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The reason why the Fourth Amendment limits police investigation at all is to protect people against intrusions into their private space. Police ransacking a dwelling searching for contraband will uncover all sorts of private, potentially embarrassing, information about the target of the search: material relating to his sexual practices; what books he reads; his taste in music and art; even how tidy he is.
The state has no legitimate interest in obtaining such private information about lawful activity. Accordingly, the Constitution only allows a search that reveals such information when it is an unavoidable accompaniment or component of a search that is otherwise supported by suspicion--typically "probable cause" to believe--that the search will reveal evidence of criminal conduct.
A dog sniff, however, is different. A trained police dog either alerts in the presence of illegal drugs, or does not alert in their absence. The sniff reveals no collateral private information (except perhaps to the dog, who has the good manners not to convey it to his human partners).
Thus, Justice Stevens said, the only privacy interest implicated by a dog sniff is the interest in keeping illegal activity private--and that interest is not protected by the Fourth Amendment.
What is a "Search" and Why Doesn't a Dog Sniff Qualify?
Why not? To begin, under longstanding Supreme Court precedent, not all police investigative measures constitute "searches" implicating the Fourth Amendment.
To give an obvious example, if a cop on the beat observes an assault, clearly the mere act of viewing what is plain for everyone to see is not a "search." Or, to give an example closer to the facts of Caballes, if a police officer patrolling a public park smells marijuana coming from a group of teenagers smoking on a bench, that ordinary use of his olfactory senses is not a "search" either.
Under the relevant precedents, police activity only constitutes a Fourth Amendment "search" if it violates a "reasonable expectation of privacy." In our two hypothetical examples, it is not reasonable to expect privacy in activity conducted in public, where it can be seen or smelled by any passersby, including the police.
Of course, the state trooper who shepherded the police dog around Caballes's car was not a mere passerby. He specifically targeted Caballes for scrutiny. And the drugs in Caballes's trunk were not evident to the human eye or nose--or even to the nose of an untrained dog. So why didn't the dog sniff violate a reasonable expectation of privacy?
Because, according to the majority opinion of Justice Stevens, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in illegal activity.
Originally posted by Wyn Hawks
... i've had my vehicle searched many times... no biggie - just another brake check...
Originally posted by defcon5
If you go into a court with this story, then try and use the arguments that you have used in this thread, the judge is going to most likely go harder on you, then agree with you.
As you are showing not only lack of remorse at breaking a law, but also that you habitually do so, and find nothing wrong with it.
I will however agree with the fact that the states are all now using their law enforcement agencies as a source of income, well above and beyond anything they have done in the past. It is almost getting to the point of being out of control. However, I would not expect it to get any better, as a matter of fact, I would expect just the opposite.
The highest court in the land, charged with interpreting the constitution, has decided that something outweighs the power of the constitution. Yet it is not deemed unconstitutional?
Under the circumstances of these checkpoint stops, which do not involve searches, the Government or public interest in making such stops outweighs the constitutionally protected interest of the private citizen. Pp. 428 U. S. 560-562.
Originally posted by 27jd
And it seems SO many are willing to bend over and take it, they can do whatever they please. You almost seem resigned to it, it's sad you don't feel compelled to fight the TRUE wrongdoings in this country.