Whether the police have probable cause to detain a suspect and perform a search with a narcotics-sniffing dog is often a very fact sensitive question. However, a recent Illinois case, also based on a U.S. Supreme Court case, has shed some new light on how long the police can detain someone while awaiting the arrival of drug dog, and under what circumstances that detention can occur.
People v. Reedy
In People v. Reedy, Will County Sheriff’s Deputies, not far from Chicago, pulled over two men after they noticed the driver repeatedly drifting over the fog line. Deputies questioned the men for a few minutes and checked to see if they had warrants, as is typical in a traffic stop. The men were patted down, and deputies discovered one of the men had a large amount of cash. Less than five minutes after the stop was initiated, a narcotics officer and his drug-sniffing canine arrived. The dog indicated that drugs were present in the vehicle. The deputies conducted a search and discovered a truly massive haul of contraband, specifically 900 grams of heroin.
The suspects were taken into custody and charged with various drug crimes. Both men then filed motions to suppress the drug evidence, which were granted by the trial court after finding that the deputies lacked reasonable suspicion and probable cause to search the vehicle. The Third District Court of Appeals initially reversed the trial court, but then allowed a rehearing following a related Supreme Court decision just eleven days later, Rodriguez v. United States. That case held that “a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.”
The Court of Appeals upheld its initial ruling finding that the wait for the narcotics dog did not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of the two men, however, there is still no hard and fast rule for what amounts to a delay for police to get a drug-sniffing drug. In Reedy, the court found that asking the defendants questions for five minutes was not an unreasonable delay. However, in other cases, Illinois courts have found that a 15 minute delay was an unreasonable amount of time to detain suspects while waiting for narcotics-sniffing dog.
Ultimately, while Reedy has slightly clarified how long police have to question someone before the arrival of a drug dog, what is unreasonable is going to depend on each individual case and the actions of the officers involved, which is why knowledgeable legal representation is so important if you’ve been charged with a serious drug crime in the state of Illinois.
Need Legal Help?
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, you need an experienced criminal defense on your side who will ensure that your Constitutional rights are protected at every stage of a criminal case. For a consultation, contact Barney & Hourihane, LLP today.