Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release

February 19, 2013
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150

The U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of the State of Florida in Case of
“Dog Sniff” Establishing Probable Cause During Traffic Stop

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The United State Supreme Court today ruled in favor of the State of Florida in Florida v. Clayton Harris, deciding that police dog Aldo’s sniff constituted probable cause for Liberty County K-9 Officer William Wheetley to search Clayton’s Harris’s vehicle for illegal drugs. The Court’s decision is important to law enforcement officers throughout the nation because it clarifies the legal standards governing their reliance on drug detection dogs, a common law enforcement practice.

“This victory is paramount to preserving our law enforcement officers’ ability to use police dog alerts to locate illegal drugs and arrest those who possess them," stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. "The Supreme Court correctly held that a police dog’s reliability is determined through a common-sense evaluation of the relevant circumstances, rather than through a rigid set of judge-created requirements."

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Florida Supreme Court’s judgment and declared, “Because training records established Aldo’s reliability in detecting drugs and Harris failed to undermine that showing, we agree with the trial court that Wheetley had probable cause to search Harris’s truck.”

To view the opinion, please follow this link:$file/HarrisOPINION.pdf