Another Important Florida Supreme Court Case: Dog Sniff = PC? Answer, No.

Gibson ES-175

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Harris v. State, 36 Fla. L. Weekly S163 (Fla. Apr 21, 2011): Defense Appeal, Conflict Resolved, Denial of MTS Quashed – LEO pulls over defendant for expired tag.  Defendant seemed nervous and open container was in plain view.  LEO gets his drug detection canine and it alerts on driver’s side door.  LEO find precursor chemicals for making meth.  Defendant files motion to suppress based on reliability of drug detection canine.  Conflict between Gibson v. State, 968 So.2d 631 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007), Matheson v. State, 870 So.2d 8 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003) and State v. Laveroni, 910 So.2d 333 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005), State v. Coleman, 911 So.2d 259 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) resolved in favor of Gibson and Matheson.  Underlying DCA opinion, Laveroni and Coleman are all quashed.

The Florida Supreme Court held that the state has the burden to establish probable cause for a warrantless search.  When probable cause is based on a drug detection canine, the reliability of the drug detection canine falls to the state.  The state may establish probable cause by demonstrating that the officer had a reasonable basis for believing the dog to be reliable based on the totality of the circumstances.  “[T]he state must present the training and certification records, an explanation of the meaning of the particular training and certification of that dog, field performance records, and evidence concerning the experience and training of the officer handling the dog, as well as any other objective evidence known to the officer about the dog’s reliability in being able to detect the presence of illegal substances within the vehicle.”

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