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Probable Cause No Longer The Standard For Canine Searches

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2018 | Uncategorized

Recently Mankey Law Office received a favorable ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals in the unpublished case of State of Minnesota v. Cabbott James Weyker, No. A18-0786. The Office of the State Public Defender requested that Mankey Law Office write the Appellate Brief and argue the case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The facts are as follows: After receiving a tip from different officer from another jurisdiction that an informant had told him that Weyker was a methamphetamine dealer without providing any basis for the information, Officer Peter Meyer brought a drug detection dog to the door of Mr. Weyker’s apartment. The dog alerted at the threshold of Mr. Weyker’s apartment door, and police used this information to obtain a search warrant to search the apartment where ammunition and methamphetamine were found. The State charged Mr. Weyker with Controlled Substance Crime in the 5th Degree and possession of ammunition by an ineligible person. The District Court dismissed the case reasoning that a warrant based on probable cause was needed before the dog sniff occurred.

Mankey Law Office was able to convince the Court of Appeals to affirm the trial court’s decision to dismiss but held that probable cause was not needed to conduct the dog sniff but only the lesser standard of a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals held that even this lesser standard had not been satisfied in this case where there were only allegations from an unknown officer that an informant had told him that Weyker had been in “possession of 8-10 pounds of methamphetamine within the past month.” The Appellate Court found the tip insufficient to satisfy the reasonable articulable suspicion standard because it lacked information relating to where the tip came from which is commonly referred to in the law as a “basis for knowledge” of the tip. In other words, the tip was just allegations not corroborated by any additional police investigation. The important holding of the case is that going forward police only need a reasonable basis to conduct the search, not probable cause. The case has now been dismissed. 

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