What to know about drug-sniffing dogs and searches in Texas

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2022 | Criminal Defense

If the police arrest and charge you with a drug crime in Texas, the prosecution may use evidence obtained by drug-sniffing dogs during a search of your person or property. But there are circumstances in which evidence obtained in that manner may be inadmissible in court.

Laws regarding drug-sniffing dogs in Texas

In general, police officers must have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed before they can conduct a search. Probable cause can be based on things like the smell of drugs or the presence of drug paraphernalia. If an officer doesn’t have probable cause, he or she may still search you or your property if you consent.

There are some limitations on how and when police can use drug-sniffing dogs. For example, the police cannot bring a drug-sniffing dog onto your property without a warrant or your consent. Additionally, they cannot use a drug-sniffing dog to conduct a search if they do not have a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying illegal drugs.

Accuracy of drug-sniffing dogs

Drug-sniffing dogs are not always right. Studies have shown that these dogs can be anywhere from 40% to 60% accurate. This means that there is a significant chance that a drug-sniffing dog may detect something that is not actually drugs.

Preventing an illegal search

When a police officer approaches you with his or her dog, you should always be polite and respectful to prevent giving him or her a reason to be suspicious. Also, you should never consent to a search without first speaking with an attorney. Finally, if the police attempt to search your property without a warrant or your consent, you should assert your rights calmly and politely.

If detained or arrested, ask for your criminal defense attorney immediately, as is your right, and remain silent. The prosecutor can, and will, use anything you say against you in Texas court.

A drug charge is a serious conviction in Texas with consequences stretching beyond a jail term and fines. Therefore, it’s always best to avoid doing things that can worsen your case, like allowing an officer to search your car without a valid reason. However, if the officer did, you should know that Texas has a Statutory Exclusionary Rule (Art. 38.23) that states that evidence obtained illegally is inadmissible in court, meaning you can have it thrown out.