State v. Farmer

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 10-02-2013
  • Case #: A146950
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Duncan, J.; and Brewer, J., pro tempore.
  • Full Text Opinion

The reliability of a drug-detection dog must be determined on a case-by-case basis, considering the dog's training, testing and the certification of the dog's handlers.

Defendant appealed his conviction for possession of methamphetamine and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Defendant was arrested after a K-9 officer circled the car with a drug-detection dog that “alerted” on the driver’s side of the car. Officers searched the car based on the dog’s reaction and recovered marijuana and methamphetamine. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the drugs recovered because the search was not supported by probable cause. Defendant asserted that the state did not establish the reliability of dog's alert, and, absent the dog’s alert, the officers lacked probable cause. The Court of Appeals held that the reliability of an alert by a drug-detection dog must be determined case-by-case, considering the specific training, testing, and certification completed by the dog’s trainers. The record in this case lacked sufficient evidence that this alert was reliable enough to conclude that probable cause existed to search Defendant's car, and, because the alert served as the basis for the officers’ perceived probable cause, the trial court did err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress. Counts 1 and 2 reversed and remanded; otherwise affirmed.

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