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What are your rights during a canine search?


A narcotic canine alert of a vehicle does not provide grounds to search the pockets of the vehicle’s passengers according to a recent appellate decision.

In Thomas v. State, the police stopped a van in which Thomas was a passenger for a minor traffic offense. The police had been watching the van based on an informant’s tip. A police dog alerted to the driver’s side door but the police found no drugs in the van. Thomas refused to consent to a strip search. The police took him to their station and put him in an interrogation room. When officers saw Thomas take something from his jacket and place it in his mouth, they forced his mouth open removing a plastic bag containing heroin.

The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the dog’s alert on the van did not provide probable cause for a fishing expedition into the occupant’s pockets. Detaining Thomas and transporting him to the police was unreasonable and the evidence obtained from this seizure and subsequent search must be excluded as evidence.

With over 33 years of handling thousands of criminal cases, Steven Knecht is familiar with the possible defenses to drug possession and other criminal charges. Clients come to Steven Knecht seeking his dependable legal advice and service. His commitment to his clients has solidified his reputation for superior representation in the area of criminal defense. He puts clients at ease, explains everything as thoroughly as possible, without “legalese,” and returns phone calls and e-mails.

If you find yourself having been arrested, you should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer that you can trust such as Steven Knecht to help you fight the State because you have a lot at stake on the outcome.

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