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Using Drug-Sniffing Dogs Without a Warrant Is Generally Illegal, Says Oregon Appeals Court


September-October 1997

Using drug-sniffing dogs without a search warrant is generally illegal, ruled the Oregon Court of Appeals on August 21 (State v. Juarez-Godinez, Ore, No. SC S42584, Gillette, J., 942 P.2d 772, Ore. 1997). The court ruled that "detaining someone's property such as an auto without a search warrant while waiting for a search dog is an illegal seizure under the Oregon Constitution" ("Search and Seizure -- Detention of Car -- Drug Sniff," Criminal Practice Report, September 10, 1997, vol. 11, no. 19, p. 369; Associated Press, "Court curbs drug dog use," August 21, 1997).

In 1992 Rogelio Juarez-Godinez was pulled over for violating the speed limit. During the stop, an officer discovered that the car's registered owner was on probation for a drug offense. Juarez-Godinez refused to allow the car to be searched, and the officer called for a drug-sniffing dog. The dog arrived 46 minutes later while Juarez-Godinez was detained. The drug dog "alert" became the basis for a search warrant which, when executed, revealed cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, leading police to formally arrest Juarez-Godinez.