Supreme Court: Drugs Dogs Cannot Sniff without Search Warrant (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Emma Koch

March 28, 2013 Updated Mar 28, 2013 at 5:45 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.nbc33.com) –A controversial Supreme Court ruling may now limit the way investigators use police dogs.

“You'll need a search warrant for that.” That’s what Supreme Court justices say regarding police dogs sniffing around a suspect's property. The Supreme Court justices ruled five to four that law enforcement cannot bring drug-sniffing K-9's onto a suspect's property without a search warrant.

The justices say it's a violation of the Fourth Amendment, the right for people to be secure in their homes against unreasonable search and seizures.

This ruling stems from a case in Miami in 2006, where police confiscated more than $700,000 worth of marijuana plants from a man's home. Police claim they received an anonymous tip of the growing operation and sent a K-9 officer to sniff outside of the house. When the K-9 gave a positive signal, police obtained a search warrant and eventually arrested the man.

Allen County Sheriffs say fortunately, this ruling won't change much for them.

“There are other means to gain search warrants into homes other than using K-9’s. Especially if it’s a large-scale investigation, there’s going to be many steps that are going to be taken as an agency to be able to gain access to that home,” said Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel with the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. “We frequently use our K-9's to search around vehicles, however your expectation of privacy is diminished when you're in your vehicle out on a public street than when you're in your home.”

Cpl. Tinkel says the ruling won’t necessarily affect the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. He says they often use other means to obtain search warrants, but when they do it's not uncommon for them to use K-9's in their investigations after obtaining one.

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