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Can a Drug Dog Provide Probable Cause in Texas?

Posted on June 6, 2023 in

Most people living or frequently traveling through Texas are familiar with the use of drug dogs at airports and border checkpoints. The use of drug dogs often comes under fire, making their service questionable in establishing probable cause. If you or someone you know has been accused of a drug crime in Texas, let a Houston drug crime lawyer work to have your case dismissed or dropped if your charges stemmed from probable cause. 

Defining Probable Cause

In Texas, to search your automobile when you are stopped for a traffic violation, law enforcement must have a verifiable suspicion that an unlawful substance is present in your vehicle or that a crime may be in process. In the case of drugs, an officer may identify drug paraphernalia or detect an odor and conclude there is probable cause to search your automobile. 

Drug Dogs and Probable Cause

When a drug dog is present during a typical traffic stop, law enforcement can walk the canine around the car’s perimeter to detect illegal cargo. A drug dog, alerting to the presence of an illegal substance during the stop, even with no verifiable suspicion of an unlawful substance, provides probable cause for your vehicle to be searched. 

This determination is particularly significant in Texas, considering it is not uncommon to drive through established Border Patrol checkpoints throughout the state. 

Probable Cause and Automobile Searches

Most drivers in Texas are unaware that unless probable cause exists, they do not have to submit to a search of their vehicle, which is considered private property. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures

Time limits have been established for detaining someone at a stop until a drug dog arrives on the scene, especially if there is no probable cause to keep them and initiate a search. Being detained outside of a standard period of time violates your rights. A Houston drug crime attorney will work to have any evidence collected during the illegal search suppressed and your case dismissed. 

Public Spaces and Probable Cause

There are other places in Texas where you may encounter drug dogs. How does the law apply to these situations?

Most police dogs you encounter at airports work to find explosives that pose a risk to travelers, but drug dogs are also utilized in these environments. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that it is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment to allow a drug dog to sniff luggage without probable cause stating this action is not considered a search.

And other places, such as public streets, may lead you to an encounter with a drug dog alerting to the presence of drugs on your person, resulting in probable cause. A search must always be properly initiated. Your best defense is to work with a drug charge attorney in Texas to ensure your rights have not been violated. 

Drug Crimes Defense Attorney in Texas

 The practice of using drug dogs and their reliability has been questioned for some time. A drug dog may provide probable cause, but every situation is unique. It cannot be stressed enough that being arrested for a drug crime in Texas does not prove guilt. 

If you are involved in a search initiated by probable cause provided by a drug dog, do not hesitate to immediately contact the Law Office of David A. Breston, Criminal Defense Attorney. Protecting your rights in Texas is the most essential part of our work.