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Florida v. Jardines

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: March 26, 2013
Case #: 11-564
Scalia, J., delivered the Court's opinion, which Thomas, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Kagan, J., filed a concurring opinion, which Ginsburg and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Alito, J., filed a dissenting opinion, which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy and Breyer, JJ., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-564_5426.pdf

Criminal Procedure: The “use of trained police dogs to investigate [a] home and its immediate surroundings is a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”

After receiving a tip that marijuana was being grown at Respondent's residence, a K-9 officer walked his leashed dog to the home’s front door. The dog alerted to the scent of drugs. The detective prepared an affidavit detailing the tip and the drug dog’s detection of marijuana. The court issued a search warrant. During the ensuing search, police found marijuana and arrested Respondent.

The trial court granted Respondent’s motion to suppress and the court of appeals reversed, concluding that no illegal search had occurred. The Florida Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, reasoning that the analysis used in the federal “dog sniff” cases was inapplicable to a “sniff test” conducted at a private home due to the “firm line [drawn] at the entrance to the house” (quoting Kyllo v. U.S., 533 U.S. 27 (2001)).

The Supreme Court affirmed according to a "traditional property-based understanding of the Fourth Amendment" because the “use of trained police dogs to investigate the home and its immediate surroundings is a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.” The officers violated Respondent’s Fourth Amendment rights when they “physically enter[ed] and occup[ied]” Respondent’s curtilage (the front porch) for the purpose of engaging in conduct Respondent had neither implicitly nor explicitly permitted. Thus, while a police officer may, without warrant, knock on a door to talk with the occupant, the officer may not bring a trained police dog to “explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence….”