Were you charged with drug crimes after a dog sniffed your car?

Wisconsin residents, as well as those in all other states, enjoy a right to privacy. It is a right protected under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For the court to rule that police violated this right, a criminal defendant must show that he or she had the right to reasonably expect privacy in a particular situation and that said privacy was invaded. Things can get complicated regarding drug-sniffing dogs and suspected drug crimes.

If police officers enter a school building with canine units to search students’ lockers for drugs, they do not need a warrant. This is because no one has a right to expect privacy in a public school. While someone might argue this point, asserting that a student’s personal locker or contents therein are private property, federal courts have consistently upheld that random drug searches in schools do not violate personal rights.

On the other hand, if police bring a drug-sniffing dog onto a person’s porch or into a private home, they may need to have a valid search warrant. There are exceptions to the rule, such as if they can show evidence that public safety was at risk. If a person owns a vehicle, it is his or her private property and therefore, the car owner’s privacy is protected under the Fourth Amendment.

If a Wisconsin resident is charged with drug crimes under circumstances that he or she believes were in violation of his or her rights, an experienced criminal defense attorney can ask the court to dismiss the case. If the judge overseeing the case denies the request, the attorney can still challenge a portion or all evidence that was obtained in violation of the defendant’s rights. Many times, such petitions prompt the court to rule certain evidence as inadmissible for trial.