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Prolonged Vehicle And Traffic Stops: Dog Sniffs – How Long Can Police Detain You In Your Vehicle?


maaaaa111Dennys Rodriguez v. United States

2015 WL 1780927

United States Supreme Court

Decided April 21, 2015

Blog by: Stephen N. Preziosi Esq., Criminal Appeals Lawyer

United States Supreme Court: A traffic stop prolonged for a dog sniff without any reasonable suspicion violates the petitioners right guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution.

Issue: Whether prolonging an otherwise-completed traffic stop for a canine sniff is violative of the petitioners right against unreasonable searches and seizures guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution or it constitutes a de minimis intrusion on petitioners personal liberty and is therefore permissible?

unnamed-3Summary: The petitioner was indicted on violation of Nebraska law [Neb. Rev. Stat. 60?6,142 (2010)] for driving on a highway shoulder, and on one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U. S. C. 841(a) (1) and (b) (1). The petitioner moved to suppress the evidence seized from his car and argued that the officer had prolonged the traffic stop without reasonable suspicion in order to conduct the dog sniff. The Magistrate Judge recommended denial of the petitioners motion. Based upon the conclusions of Magistrate Judge, the District Court denied the petitioners Motion to suppress. The petitioner entered a conditional guilty plea. The petitioner appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit from the decision of United States District Court for the District of Nebraska denying his Motion to suppress evidence. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the District Courts decision. The petitioner further appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings.

See also: ?The Physician Patient Privilege: Admissions To Treating Psychiatrist Inadmissible At Trial.

Holding: The Supreme Court of the United States held that prolonging the traffic stop without a reasonable suspicion for conducting a dog sniff violated the petitioners right against unreasonable searches and seizures guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which held that prolonging the traffic stop for the dog sniff was only a de minimis intrusion on petitioners Fourth Amendment rights and was for that reason permissible. The case was remanded for further proceedings. The Supreme Court also granted the petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals to resolve a division among lower courts on the question whether police routinely may extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct a dog sniff.

oldschoolcityFacts: On March 27, 2012, the police officer observed the petitioner was driving on the shoulder of Nebraska State Highway 275. Thereafter, the petitioner was indicted in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska on federal drug charges for driving on a highway shoulder, a violation of Nebraska law [Neb. Rev. Stat. 60?6,142 (2010)] and on one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U. S. C. 841(a) (1) and (b) (1). The petitioner moved to suppress the evidence seized from his possession and argued that the officer had prolonged the traffic stop without reasonable suspicion in order to conduct the dog sniff.

On July 10, 2012, the Magistrate Judge recommended denial of the Motion and concluded that under Eighth Circuit precedent prolonging the stop by seven to eight minutes for the dog sniff was only a de minimis intrusion on Petitioners Fourth Amendment rights and was for that reason permissible.

On August 30, 2012, the District Court adopted the Magistrate Judges factual findings and legal conclusions and denied petitioners Motion to suppress.

Thereafter, the petitioner entered a conditional guilty plea to one count of possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1) and was sentenced to five years in prison.

On January 31, 2014, the petitioner appealed from the decision of United States District Court for the District of Nebraska which denied his Motion to suppress evidence. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the District Courts decision noting that the seven or eight minute delay was an acceptable de minimis intrusion on the petitioners personal liberty. Given that ruling, the Eight Circuit Court declined to reach the question whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to continue the petitioners detention after issuing the written warning. The petitioner further appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States from the decision of the Eighth Circuit.

On October 2, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States vacated the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings.

cityscape_FZ20_Manhattan_257299_oLegal Analysis: The Supreme Court of the United States held that prolonging the traffic stop without a reasonable suspicion for conducting a dog sniff and exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the United States Constitutions shield against unreasonable search and seizures.

The United States Supreme Court had held in an earlier case that that the federal governments legitimate and weighty interest in officer safety outweighs the de minimis additional intrusion of requiring a driver, already lawfully stopped, to exit the vehicle and that an officer may need to take certain negligibly burdensome precautions in order to complete his mission safely. [Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U. S. 106 (1977)]. However, in the present case, the United States Supreme Court reasoned that lacking the close connection to roadway safety, a dog sniff is not fairly characterized as part of the officers traffic mission. [Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U. S. 32, 40?41 (2000)]. Accordingly, the United States Supreme Court held that in the present case, the alleged dog sniff does not constitute a de minimis intrusion on petitioners personal liberty and is not permissible.

In the oral arguments presented before the Honorable Supreme Court, the federal government argued that an officer may incrementally prolong a stop to conduct a dog sniff so long as the officer is reasonably diligent in pursuing the traffic-related purpose of the stop, and the overall duration of the stop remains reasonable in relation to the duration of other traffic stops involving similar circumstance. The Federal Supreme Court noted that, if an officer can complete traffic-based inquiries expeditiously, then that is the amount of time reasonably required to complete the stops mission and a traffic stop prolonged beyond that point is unlawful. The Federal Supreme Court relied on myriad of cases where it was held that a seizure that is lawful at its inception can violate the Fourth Amendment if its manner of execution unreasonably infringes interests protected by the United States Constitution. [ Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405 (U.S. 2005); Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S. 323 (U.S. 2009)].

Therefore, the Supreme Court vacated the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit based on the ground that prolonging an otherwise-completed traffic stop for conducting a dog sniff violated the petitioners Fourth Amendment Rights.

 


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