Drug Dog Fail

A police officer was caught on video abusing his K-9 partner after the drug dog failed to give him probable cause to search the car of someone he pulled over.

In the video, an officer walks his K-9 partner around a car – which he pulled over because its windows were tinted – to sniff for drugs. The dog doesn’t alert to the presence of drugs – presumably because there were no drugs – and the officer gets really angry. He gives the leash a hard jerk, clearly causing the dog pain.

You don’t have to be a professional dog trainer to see that the officer is demanding that the dog alert him to the presence of drugs – whether there are any drugs or not.

Even children intuitively know that you can get a dog to behave in a certain way if you give them a treat every time they do what you want and punish them when they don’t…

False Positives can Result in Asset Forfeitures…

So why would an officer want his dog to alert him to drugs when there are no drugs present? It’s simple – when a police dog gives an officer the signal that drugs are present (even if they are not) the officer then has probable cause to search the vehicle. Even if they don’t find drugs, the search can still result in an arrest and the seizure of property.

Let’s say you were on your way to buy a smart TV you found on Craigslist, and you’re carrying a few hundred dollars in cash. To a lot of police officers, there is only one reason a regular civilian would carry a lot of cash – they must be a drug dealer. So, the officer will take your cash because he suspects it was obtained illegally – even if he doesn’t charge you with a crime.

This is called civil asset forfeiture, and when it happens, the values of our criminal justice system get turned upside down – the cops don’t have to prove that you came into the cash illegally; instead, you must prove that you didn’t.

You’ll have to go to court to do that, and you’ll probably need to hire an attorney, which means it will cost you time and money to recover your legally obtained property. It’s not surprising that a lot of people just don’t bother, and police departments, cities, municipalities, and states make millions of dollars every year from forfeitures.

How Can My Attorney Help?

If the police have arrested you or taken your property based on “probable cause” after a K-9 alert, call your SC attorney immediately. Here are some of the ways we can help:

  • When appropriate, we will find an expert dog trainer to review the video of your traffic stop to challenge whether the dog was properly trained and whether the officer handled the dog properly.
  • During discovery, we will request all records on the dog’s certifications, re-certifications, and vet records. We will also examine records on the officer’s certifications as a K-9 handler and find out how many false positives the dog has had over time.
  • In many cases, the officer’s actions during the traffic stop violate the Fourth Amendment – if there is no reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity or if the roadside detention was unreasonably long, any evidence seized by the officer may be suppressed and your case may be dismissed.
  • We investigate your case, get all evidence from the prosecutor that 1) they intend to use against you or 2) is helpful to your case, and help you to retain any experts needed to analyze the state’s evidence or testify at your trial.

Traffic Stop and Fourth Amendment Defense Lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC

If you have been charged with drug trafficking or drug possession after a traffic stop in the Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, or Conway areas, call criminal defense lawyer Daniel A. Selwa at (843) 492-5449 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free consultation.

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