The image of police using drug-sniffing dogs to search a home, car or other property is something with which many Memphis residents will be familiar. Authorities have often relied on this tactic and drug dogs have contributed to many criminal charges filed against defendants. For example, one man was recently charged in Tennessee with serious drug charges after a drug sniffing dog allegedly found marijuana in his recreational vehicle.

An officer allegedly received a complaint of possible drug activity in the parked recreational vehicle. The officer and two others then used drug dogs to search the vehicle. According to police, the drug dogs indicated that drugs were present in a lockbox inside the recreational vehicle. Police opened the box where they allegedly found a number of controlled substances. The defendant faces charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture or deliver, simple possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Drug searches using dogs have long been common procedure here in Memphis and throughout the state. Recently, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in order for a search to proceed on a suspect’s property with drug dogs, the officer must obtain a search warrant. For example, if the smell of marijuana is detected in the general vicinity of a house, an officer may not use a drug dog to investigate without a warrant. The justices mentioned that individuals have a reasonable right to an expectation of privacy in their homes. If an officer uses a drug dog to search for drugs without obtaining a warrant, any drug charges filed may be dropped due to an illegal search/seizure.

Memphis residents facing drug charges should realize that the charges are serious. Convictions can result in long prison terms, high fines and other serious consequences. Memphis residents who face drug charges should consider working with a legal professional skilled in drug crimes. Defendants should always remember that they are innocent until proven guilty and a skilled attorney can be an asset to one’s criminal case.

Source: The Paris Post-Intelligencer, “PARIS TN: Florida man arrested by Paris Police officers on drug charges,” Glenn Tanner, June 3, 2013