K-9 units have become an integral tool in many police forces throughout the US. The units vary in duty based on breed and specific skillset; however, they all rely on the dogs’ keen sense of smell detect to unique and familiar odors.
In the modern day, K-9 units can be used in a wide variety of situations. The dogs’ exceptional sense of smells makes them useful when investigating large quantities of hidden drugs or potential bomb threats. If given a specific scent they can be used to track or identify both missing persons and escaped suspects. They are also sometimes used as a deterrent in situations where large crowds are expected.
In terms of drug searches, such units are usually deployed along highways or at airports. However, they can also be used at businesses and private homes. Searches outside these areas are suspect and may be rendered invalid, so consider contacting an expert for their opinion if you believe a K-9 search was conducted unlawfully. For example, public schools are considered a legal grey area.
The dogs are trained to react to specific smells and will be walked around high traffic areas or hot spots. If the dog targets something, such as a person, bag, or car, it is considered probable cause and the police are authorized to do a search.
With the dog’s reaction as probable cause, such searches cannot be refused and can be undertaken without the subject’s permission. If illegal substances, such as drugs or weapons, are found during the search the owner can be legally charged with possession.
Be aware that the rules of probable cause can be flexible based on your location, particularly regarding searches by a police dog. Dogs can “sniff search” suspect packages without permission in public spaces such as airports, highways, and outdoor events. However, the law is required to respect your privacy when you are at home. An officer cannot bring a police dog past your front porch without either your permission or a warrant.
It should be noted that police officers cannot force you to wait for a canine unit to arrive. Since the dog’s reaction is used to provide probable cause and justify a search, if it is not present then you cannot be held for a search unless another viable reason is given.
Since the dogs are used to provide cause, there is little difference in terms of charges if drugs are found using dogs or more traditional methods. Drug charges typically go by the amount in possession, with anything over 10 grams being a felony charge. In Munich, Germany charged can be a little different so we recommend a experience criminal drug lawyer like Rechtsanwalt Marc Wederhake.
Search dogs are trained to react to suspicious smells; however, they cannot always tell the difference between legal substances and illegal ones. If a search of your vehicle yields a legal substance, for example hemp rather than marijuana, you can get the charges dropped. Obviously, it’s always best to at least consult with a lawyer or legal professional to ensure you’re going about things in the best way possible.