In Florida v. Jardines, the United States Supreme Court recently held that an investigation of a defendant’s home by a drug sniffing dog does not constitute a permissible search under the 4th Amendment. In that case, the police had received an unverified tip that marijuana was being grown at the defendant’s home. The police approached the home to investigate with a drug-sniffing dog, but without a warrant. Although the police did not enter the home itself, they allowed the dog to go to the front door where it detected drugs, permitting the police to obtain a warrant.
Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia determined that the police had performed an unconstitutional search and likened the use of the drug-sniffing dog to using binoculars to peer into a home. Justice Kagan agreed, writing in the Court’s Opinion that “A drug detection dog is a specialized device” and the “device here was aimed at a home — the most private and inviolate (or so we expect) of all the places and things the Fourth Amendment protects.” The Court concluded that the police had trespassed on the defendant’s property and had invaded the defendant’s privacy.
This case represents a victory for the accused in the war on drugs and may be a sign that the US Supreme Court is now willing to increase rights of the accused that had previously been diminished.
The Defendant Is Not Required To Testify in a Criminal Trial
In a criminal case, the prosecution has the burden to prove all of the elements of the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the prosecution is not allowed to use the testimony of the defendant to meet its burden. Moreover, the jury cannot draw any inferences based on whether or not the defendant has chosen to testify. Thus, the decision to testify is a critical consideration in preparing for trial, and a criminal trial may not be the time to tell “your side” of the story. If you are facing criminal charges, it is imperative that you know all of your rights, and your legal counsel can advise you when making the important decision of whether or not to testify at trial.