St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Request to Search with Police Dogs Are Legal Under Fourth Amendment

 police dogs and 4th amendment

U.S. citizens have protections from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, but the lines are often blurred in real-world applications by police. One example is the practice of a “knock and talk” by police in early-morning hours. Even if police are armed and wearing vests while leading police dogs, Michigan courts consider their searches legal if request to enter is granted.

Appeals Court Allows Search Under SCOTUS Ruling

An experienced defense attorney in Michigan will be familiar with the techniques used by police to obtain evidence in hopes of incriminating suspects. In some cases, the bounds of the law are crossed in order to make a conviction hold up in court. Even if such a conviction is justified in the end, illegal searches are very dangerous in a free society and must be checked by courts.

In People v. Frederick (2015), the Michigan Court of Appeals examined the Supreme Court’s ruling on a previous case with respect to a “knock and talk” incident involving police and a home with occupants suspected of growing marijuana. Though officers approached the home in vests while leading a police dog — which began barking after smelling marijuana – the act of knocking on the door and requesting access constituted a legal means of search in the eyes of the court.

Distinctions in Police Methods

A defense attorney in Michigan with a track record in state courts will recognize the techniques used by police in the Frederick case. Since officers are allowed to walk up to a home and knock on the door like any other citizen, the court found they did not show intent to search prior to arrival, despite the presence of the police dog and bulletproof vests, not to mention the early-morning hour of the approach.

Should the resident reject the officers’ request to enter and search, police would be allowed to wait at the premises while the effort to obtain a warrant began. In cases where the police are granted entry with such a show of force, the searches are likely to be considered legal unless there was no attempt to engage the occupant of the home prior to the search request.

A qualified defense attorney in Michigan such as the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC can help protect anyone charged with crimes following a search of questionable legality. For further information or to schedule an appointment with one of our highly successful and sought after criminal defense attorneys please contact us at 269.982.1100 or visit

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