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Any drug lawyer worthy of his/her pay understands that the Fourth Amendment is the fundamental concern in any interstate drug stop case. That means the government has to show that the evidence gained from every aspect of the traffic stop– the questioning, search, detention, or even the stop itself– have to be proper when used to prove the defendant’s guilt. Possible cause must be determined to believe that a traffic violation took place or that there was a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

Sometimes, a drug lawyer can efficiently dispute that the police officer misjudged and did not have probable reason to stop the motor vehicle, considering that the driver’s conduct did not create a traffic violation– though most of the time, the event is tape-recorded on the police officer car’s front dashboard video. It cannot be avoided that what happens after the stop may seep into more of a gray area. The individual that was stopped could have gone through pointless questioning and unnecessary and illegal detainment during a minor traffic violation.

Here are some good examples of how police officers use motorists and make use of unethical techniques to obtain information and evidence.

Baseless Consent

Many times, Arizona police officers will ask the driver for consent to search the automobile. If the cops do not get the consent they are seeking, a drug dog will often be called to sniff the air surrounding the motor vehicle so as to provide them reasonable cause to perform a search. Illegal detention happens if the police officer does not have sensible suspicion to detain the motorist until the drug canine comes.

The Unlawful Search

Despite the fact that law enforcement has enough suspicion to detain the vehicle driver, this does not mean that they have probable cause to search. The policeman may ask the driver’s companion for consent to search their bags, and when only the companion gives permission, but the police officer moves on to search the vehicle driver’s bags without having his consent.

Unlawful Detention

Police can not unreasonably detain a person at the time of a regular traffic stop, and once it is complete, the driver is allowed to leave. The only time law enforcement can detain an individual is if they have reasonable suspicion to believe that criminal activity is afoot or have plausible cause to arrest. Typically a policeman will ask many queries during the traffic stop to develop suspicion, including questioning every person in the motor vehicle what their travel itineraries are.

If police have reasonable suspicion that the driver or other passengers are involved in criminal activity, they may hold all the passengers in the car and call in a drug dog to establish probable cause to search– but the period of the detention must be reasonable. The real question becomes whether the policeman had reasonable suspicion to detain in the first place. Many times, the officer’s hunch can be challenged in court.

If a consent to search is not given or probable cause is not established, police will more than likely call the drug dog to the scene to smell the vehicle. Though trained extremely well, drug canines are not always accurate. In many cases, the evidence acquired by using a drug canine may be suppressed if the animal is found to be questionable or found to have not indicated drugs.

Drug dogs trained in Arizona are used as passive indicators, meaning that when the canine walks around the car it will look for the source of contraband. It will then show an interest in what handlers refer to as an “alert.” The dog takes a seat at the location where the odor is the strongest, as a kind of indication. It can be proven occasionally that the dog did not take a seat or was either intentionally or unintentionally cued by dog handler.

Canine Training

It must be established that the dog’s sniff is credible and that it gave probable cause to search. Often times, it is very useful for the defense to hire expert witnesses to help analyze data to provide an outside perspective. Through this method, it may be determined about whether the canine was expertly trained.

The Innate Unreliability of a Drug Dog

Drug dogs are trained to signal to the odor of narcotics, but sometimes they can incorrectly indicate an odor where no drugs are present because they are only indicating the presence of an odor. If a drug dog alerts to the odor of marijuana, it could be that a person riding in the vehicle smoked marijuana and had the scent on their clothing. On the other hand, if it has been shown through other cases that the dog was accurate in the past, the dog will likely be found credible by the court.

Other Probable Cause

Another reason for a probable cause to search is if the driver states that he only has a personal amount of marijuana. The cop then may search the entire vehicle for confessing to that personal use. In the past, Arizona law enforcement has been shown to badger drivers regarding their personal marijuana repeatedly that their Fifth Amendment rights of protection against self-incrimination were put on the line. In this case, their drug attorney can have the statement effectively thrown out as evidence.


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