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Any drug lawyer worthy of his or her pay is aware that the Fourth Amendment is the principal issue in any interstate drug stop case. That means the government needs to show that the evidence obtained from every aspect of the traffic stop– the questioning, search, detention, and even the stop itself– has to be proper when used to confirm the defendant’s guilt. The potential cause should be determined to believe that a traffic violation happened or that there was a sensible suspicion of criminal activity.

In some cases, a drug lawyer can effectively dispute that the police officer misjudged and did not have potential reason to stop the motor vehicle, since the driver’s conduct did not constitute a traffic violation– however most of the time, the event is tape-recorded on the police officer car’s front dash video. What happens after the stop may seep into more of a gray area. The individual that was stopped could have gone through irrelevant questioning and unnecessary and unlawful detainment during a minor traffic violation. Here are some examples of how cops take advantage of motorists and use tacky techniques to procure information and proof.

Invalid Consent

Oftentimes, Iowa cops will ask the driver for permission to search the automobile. If the cops do not get the consent they are seeking, a drug dog will often be called to smell the air around the car so as to provide them probable cause to conduct a search. Unlawful detention occurs if the policeman does not have reasonable suspicion to detain the motorist until the drug canine comes.

The Unlawful Search

Though law enforcement has enough reasonable suspicion to detain the vehicle driver, this does not mean that they have probable cause to search. The policeman may ask the driver’s companion for permission to search their bags, and when the companion alone authorizes, but the police moves on to search the vehicle driver’s bags without his/her agreement.

Unlawful Detention

Police can not unreasonably detain a person at the time of a regular traffic stop, and once it is complete, the vehicle driver is totally free to go. The only time police can arrest a person is if they have reasonable suspicion to believe that criminal activity is afoot or have probable cause to arrest. Generally a policeman will ask many concerns during the traffic stop to develop suspicion, including questioning everybody in the vehicle what their plans are.

If police have reasonable suspicion that the driver or other passengers are involved in criminal activity, they may detain all the occupants in the car and ask for a drug dog to develop probable cause to search– but the duration of the detention must be reasonable. The real question becomes whether the policeman had reasonable suspicion to detain initially. Often times, the officer’s hunch can be contended in court.

If valid consent to search is not given or possible cause is not established, police will more than likely call the drug dog to the scene to smell the automobile. Though trained extremely well, drug canines are not always accurate. Sometimes, the proof acquired by using a drug canine may be suppressed if the animal is found being questionable or found to have not indicated drugs.

Drug dogs trained in Iowa are used as passive indicators, meaning that when the canine walks around the car it will seek the source of contraband. It will then show an interest in what handlers refer to as an “alert.” The dog takes a seat at the location where the odor is the strongest, as a form of indication. It can be proven occasionally that the dog did not take a seat or was either intentionally or unintentionally cued by the dog handler.

Dog Training

It must be established that the dog’s sniff is reliable and that it gave probable cause to search. Often times, it is very useful for the defense to hire expert witnesses to help analyze data to provide an outside perspective. Through this method, it may be determined about whether the canine was effectively trained.

The Inherent Unreliability of a Drug Dog

Drug dogs are trained to signal to the odor of narcotics, but at times they can wrongly indicate an odor where no drugs are present because they are only indicating the presence of a smell. If a drug canine alerts to the smell of marijuana, it could be that a person riding in the vehicle smoked marijuana and had the scent on their clothing. On the other hand, if it has been shown through other cases that the dog was accurate in the past, the dog will likely be found reliable by the court.

Other Probable Cause

Another reason for a possible cause to search is if the driver states that he only has a personal amount of marijuana. The cop then may search the entire vehicle for admitting to that personal use. In the past, Iowa law enforcement has been shown to badger drivers regarding their personal marijuana use so relentlessly that their Fifth Amendment rights of protection against self-incrimination were in jeopardy. In this case, their drug attorney can have the statement effectively tossed out as proof.


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