If you were pulled over, and the police requested that a K9 officer arrive and scan your car, it’s important that you call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Baltimore, Maryland right away.
Police are using K9 officers more and more as a way to get inside cars when people will not consent to a search of the vehicle. And the law regarding when something seized from a car as a result of a K9 scan is admissible is constantly changing. It is important to remember, if you consent to the search at any time, even if the police broke the rules that follow, anything found in your car may well be admitted. As a result of this, NEVER consent to a search of your vehicle (or person, for that matter). Request to speak with your criminal defense attorney in Baltimore, MD, and just say no.
By way of background, police are training dogs to help them in the investigation of crimes, as a criminal defense attorney in Baltimore, MD can attest. Dogs have been trained to sniff out people, explosives, and drugs, among other things. When a police officer wants to search a car, but the owner or driver says no, the police may call in a K9 in an attempt to find a different way inside the car. If the K9 “hits” on the car, it could give the police probable cause to enter and search the vehicle.
The law with regards to K9 scans and searches though is detailed, somewhat muddy, and constantly evolving. The police do not need any specific reason to have a K9 scan your vehicle, because it has been deemed not to be an intrusion into a person’s expectation of privacy by the courts. Because the dog is not actually getting in your car, but is just walking around it, these “scans” have been held to be constitutionally permissible, without the need for a warrant of probable cause.
In Maryland though, the timing of such a scan is of great importance. The K9 scan is permissible, as long as it does not prolong the normal course of the traffic stop. For example, if you are pulled over for speeding, it generally takes about 10-15 minutes to write a ticket for a speeding violation. If the police can get the K9 to your car within that period of time, then the police have complied with the law. But if it takes the K9 45 minutes to show up, the K9 scan is likely to be a violation of your rights. The police must not delay investigating the original purpose of the stop just to give the K9 time to arrive. The law is muddy because there are very few bright-line rules. These cases are assessed by the courts under the “totality of the circumstances,” and each case is judged on its own facts. The courts specifically look to what the officer knew at the time of the search.
Further, the law allows you to attack the credibility of the K9 and his or her controlling officer, as a criminal defense attorney in Baltimore, MD can explain. A defendant is entitled to the K9’s records with regard to both its training and its on-the-job experience. A defendant would also be entitled to the K9’s certificates showing it has been deemed reliable by the department. Having these things can give you the opportunity to attack the K9’s reliability. If the K9 is deemed to be unreliable due to its past performance, the evidence recovered as a result of a hit could be deemed inadmissible.
It is also important to get your hands on any video that may exist. Many police cars are equipped with dash cameras, and today many officers wear body cameras. The video taken by such cameras can be very helpful in attacking a K9 scan. For example, you can see whether the officer may have “cued” the K9 on where to hit. Or you can see if the “alert” may not be listed on the K9’s list of alerts. These videos can provide you the opportunity to make sure that the controlling officer followed their guidelines when using the K9 for a scan.
To conclude, the law provides plenty of ways to attack cases involving K9 officers, but you need an experienced criminal defense attorney from Baltimore, MD in your corner to help from the very beginning. Contact Greenberg Law Offices today to schedule a consultation.