A Florida police dog's alert at a traffic stop that led to a van driver's conviction on drug charges established probable cause for the search, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The unanimous decision, which was written by Justice Elena Kagan, overturned a Florida Supreme Court ruling that prosecutors failed to establish the reliability of Aldo, a K-9 unit that sniffed out methamphetamine ingredients in a van belonging to Clayton Harris.
Liberty County Sheriff's Deputy William Wheetley stopped Harris' van on June 24, 2006 for expired tags and observed an open beer can in the cup holder. Harris didn't consent to a search, and the deputy's German shepherd, Aldo, alerted to the driver's side door handle.
Wheetley discovered more than 200 pseudoephedrine pills in a plastic bag wrapped in a shirt. On the passenger's side, Wheetley discovered eight boxes of matches and a toolbox with muriatic acid. Harris pleaded no contest to possession with intent manufacture meth and was sentenced to two years in prison, reports Courthouse News.
In the case, Florida v. Harris, the Supreme Court ruled Harris' Fourth Amendment rights were not violated.