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The Supreme Court issued a ruling last month that has serious implications for due process and policy rights. And civil liberties advocates are up in arms about the ruling, which they believe could unfairly violate the privacy rights of criminal suspects.

The Court ruled that a police dogs that was trained to detect drugs may establish "probable cause" by alerting an officer to the presence of drugs. Probable cause can be used to justify a search of a person's belongings, home or vehicle.

However, the ruling ignores the reality of these dogs' reliability. In some studies, between 44 percent and 93 percent of alerts by drug dogs were false positives that did not result in a finding of contraband material. Some sources of error include distractions such as food or cues from the dogs' handlers. There are also some legal substances that smell like drugs and can trigger a false positive.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution grants every American protection from unreasonable or unwarranted search and seizure. This is meant to protect us from invasions of our privacy by law enforcement officials. Typically, officers must get a warrant from a judge to justify a search.

If you or someone you care about have been accused of or charged with a crime, it can be difficult to know where to turn. Consider speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney. He or she can work with you to understand your case, protect your rights and pursue the best possible outcome in your case.

Source:, "Where Does a Cop With an 80-Pound Dog Search? Anywhere he wants," Jacob Sullum, Feb. 27, 2013

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