Back in January, we covered the Florida v. Jardines case in the blog “Man’s Best Friend and Drug Cases.” See Mans Best Friend & Drug Cases, In this case, the police led a drug sniffing dog, “Franky,” onto Jardines’ porch and to his front door. The police did not have a warrant to be anywhere on Jardines’ property. Franky positively alerted to the scent of drugs. After obtaining a warrant, officers then discovered Jardines was growing marijuana inside.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in this case. The Court held that “The government’s use of trained police dogs to investigate the home and its immediate surroundings is a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.” Notable excerpts from the majority opinion include:
“The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home. And the officers here had all four of their feet and all four of their companion’s, planted firmly on that curtilage – the front porch is the classic example of an area intimately associated with the life of the home.”
“We think a typical person would find it ‘a cause for great alarm’ to find a stranger snooping about his front porch with or without a dog.”
The home is where a citizen can retreat with greater expectation of privacy. The Fourth Amendment protects the home from police intrusion, e.g., “A man’s home is his castle.” The Jardines case held this Fourth Amendment protection also extends to the front porch, one of the areas immediately surrounding the house.
Here, police (with Franky) didn’t have a warrant prior to stepping on Jardines’ front porch, a part of his home. Therefore, the resulting search was unlawful and any evidence discovered was not admissible in court. The Jardines case means that now officers must obtain a warrant before bringing a drug-sniffing dog onto your property.