No Reasonable Suspicion Needed for Canine Narcotics Sniff | Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Call Today:

No Reasonable Suspicion Needed for Canine Narcotics Sniff


In State v. Dunbar, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered the appropriate standard for police officers to conduct a canine sniff for detection of narcotics. In particular, the Court was asked to determine whether police require reasonable suspicion of a drug offense to conduct a canine sniff during a motor vehicle stop.

Defendant, a known drug dealer, was stopped for illegally parking in a handicap spot. While waiting for another officer to arrive and arrest one of defendant's passengers, a K-9 unit on the scene conducted a canine stiff. The K-9 signaled that there were narcotics in the vehicle and defendant consented to a search. Xanax, oxycodone and heroin were found in the vehicle's trunk. Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress the drugs. The trial court held that the officers did not have reasonable suspicion that defendant was engaged in a drug transaction in his vehicle at that time and, therefore, they could not perform a canine sniff. The State then moved for reconsideration in light of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Rodriguez v. United States, which provided that a seizure justified only by a traffic violation becomes unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete the stop and that reasonable suspicion of criminal activity must exist to conduct a seizure that goes beyond the time limit necessary to complete the stop. The trial court declined to follow the federal rule and denied the motion for reconsideration. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's suppression of the seized drugs.

The Supreme Court chose to adopt the federal view of canine sniffs. First, the Court endorsed the determination that a canine sniff does not transform an otherwise lawful seizure into a search that triggers constitutional protections. Second, the Court held that canine sniffs can be conducted without reasonable suspicion only if the sniff does not unreasonably prolong the traffic stop beyond normal parameters. Since the record does not provide sufficient information to determine if the stop was prolonged beyond the reasonable time necessary to conduct such a stop, the Court reversed and remanded the case.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

No Firm In Northern New Jersey Has More Experience Than We Do. Call 201-845-9600 Today To Put Our Knowledge On Your Side.

Email Us For a Response

Contact Northern New Jersey's Premiere Law Firm

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Park 80 West-Plaza One
250 Pehle Avenue
Suite 401
Saddle Brook, NJ 07663

Phone: 201-684-9695
Phone: 201-845-9600
Fax: 201-845-9423
Saddle Brook Law Office Map

Review Us