Narcotics

Let's look at some case rulings regarding narcotics detection. Narcotics detection is an important part of a Police Service Dog (PSD). Remember gentlemen, we want to train constantly and keep records of all training.

I definately want to post the Cabbelles case, which is a great victory for Canine Handlers. I presently did not have the information I wanted, while placing this together. Hopefully I will be able to post it soon. However, I did provide a link on the Cabbelles Case.

Reliability

State v. Laveroni, 910 So.2d 333 (4th D.C.A.), decided September 14, 2005,

The court held that the state can make a prima facie showing of probable cause based on a narcotics alert, by demonstrating that the dog has been properly trained and certified

Ruling allows a handler to merely provide the graduation certificate from a recognized, experienced trainer, along with the canine’s annual independent certification from a recognized agency, to establish a dog’s reliability, in court

The handler does not have to initially provide three years worth of training records and work logs to establish reliability

But remember, according to this case, a defense attorney still can still challenge the dogs reliability. Although, as you will see down below in State v. Nguyen the courts are still unclear what is discoverable and what is not. The courts have been going back and forth, almost contridicting each other.

Dawson v. State, 238 GA.App 263, 518 S.E 2d 477(1999)

Court concluded that the evidence of certification as a narcotics detection dog constitutes prima facie evidence of reliability but that the defendant can challenge this presumption by providing proof of the dog’s failure rate or other evidence, with the ultimate determination to be made by the trial court

This means a handlers training records are still discoverable

However, the burden of proof is on the defense, to establish that a well-trained and annually certified narcotics dog is not truly reliable

State v. Coleman, 911 So.2d 259 (5th d.c.a.)

The court held that the state can make a prima facie showing of probable cause based on a narcotics dog’s alert by demonstrating that the dog has been properly trained and certified

Meaning that training records and real-world deployment logs of the narcotics canine were not required for the state to make a prima facie showing of probable cause to search based on a dog’s alert, merely proving training and yearly certification will result in the prima facie showing of probable cause to search

State v. Nguyen, 157 Ohio App. 3d 482, 811 N.E.2d 1180 (2004)

Case involved a discovery request by the defense, in which it asked the court to order the state to disclose information about PSD K-9 Ringo that included the dog’s real-world reports. The state provided the following:

1. Ringo’s training and certification records;
2. Ringo’s veterinarian records;
3. Ringo’s real-world reports that showed only instances of (a) dog alerts to the presence of the odor of drugs that he was trained to detect and searches in which those drugs were actually found and their presence confirmed; and (b) dog records where the dog did not alert to the presence of the odor of narcotics but drugs were actually found or their presence confirmed

The state refused to produce real-world records, in which Ringo alerted to odor but drugs were neither discovered nor their presence confirmed, and deployment records in which no alert was obtained and no drugs were found or presence confirmed.

The court ruled that evidence that a drug dog has been properly trained and certified to detect narcotics is sufficient to establish the canine’s reliability for the purpose of determining whether police had probable cause to search based solely on the dog’s alert

The court also maintained that the state was not required to produce the remainder of the records because the law did not require it and that the records withheld by the state were not material for the purpose of criminal discovery

Meaning the records were not discoverable by the defendant; in determining materiality, the court found that additional canine records were not discoverable because the records were not an issue if the dog was properly trained and certified

It should be noted although the ruling is a victory for handlers; it is the minority position across the country


Defining reasonable time frame

State v. Cabral, 159 Md.App. 354, 859 A.2d 285 (2004)

Maryland court found in State v. Cabral that "if a trained drug dog has the ability to detect the presence of drugs that are no longer physically present in the vehicle or container, but were present perhaps as long as seventy-two (72) hours prior to the alert, such an ability serves to strengthen the argument that the dog has a superior sense of smell on which to rely to support a finding of probable cause. The possibility that the contraband may no longer be present in the vehicle does not compel the finding that there is no probable cause; for purposes of the probable cause analysis, we are concerned with the probability, not certainty"

The case set a 72-hour window on odor

Meaning just because the drugs are no longer present, does not mean the dog was wrong to alert, which shut down a defendant tactic regarding ‘stale or residual odor’

I will be adding more and more case law. Please be patient. Also if you want me to add any case law, please assist me and prepare it as I did. I will find the links but the easier you make it for me the quicker it will be posted.

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