Supreme Court Of Florida Requires The Prosecution To Provide All Documents And Information Necessary
In the case of Harris v. The State of Florida|State}, in a revised ruling on rehearing denial, the supreme court ruled that the state met its burden of establishing probable cause to search a automobile by demonstrating that an officer reasonably believed a drug dog to be reliable in view of the totality of the circumstances. The Supreme Court stated that the fact that a drug-detection K-9 has been trained and certified to locate illegal drugs in and of itself, is not sufficient to demonstrate the dog's reliability. The court's ruling resolved a conflict between the 1st District in the case of Harris v. State, as well as decisions out of the Second District Court of Appeal in Gibson vs. State & Matheson vs. State of Florida.
In Harris, the state charged defendant with possession of the scheduled chemical pseudoephedrine with the intent to utilize it to make methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, in violation of Florida Statute 893.149(1)(a). Defendant made a motion to suppress the seized evidence, arguing that it was found via to an unlawful search of his vehicle which was a result from an alert on the vehicle by a drug-detection K-9. Defendant introduced evidence that dog was unreliable because the same dog had also alerted on the defendant's vehicle in an unrelated traffic stop which was for a traffic infraction, & a subsequent search revealed only an open bottle of liquor &and no illegal narcotics.
The lower court denied the motion to suppress, but made no finding as to the drug dog's reliability. On appeal, the First District Court of Appeal in Harris issued an opinion stating that the State of Florida can demonstrate probable cause for a search of a vehicle by demonstrating that a dog is properly trained and certified to detect illegal drugs. The Florida Supreme court quashed Harris and approved the decision in Matheson, ruling that if the trial court, while hearing a motion to suppress, relies on training and certification records & doesn't to consider additional factors concerning the dog's performance, then the trial court doesn't have a complete picture of the wide variety of factors that bear on the reasonableness of an officer's belief in a dog's reliability & whether an alert in a particular case provides an indication of a fair probability that there are illegal drugs present inside the vehicle. Accordingly, the prosecution must present all documents & records necessary to allow the circuit court to evaluate the dog's reliability.
Miami, FL 33131
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