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Illinois v. Caballes
28 April 2008
Terry v. Ohio
Police can search persons based on reasonable suspicion, rather than probable cause
-‘Terry stops’ allow for stop and frisks of persons
-Frisking of exterior of clothing is not an unreasonable search
-A canine sniff was not an unreasonable search
-Provided probable cause
-Officers do not need reasonable suspicion to use a drug-detection dog during a traffic stop
I. Constitutional Question
Does a canine sniff during a routine traffic stop violate the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure clause which requires probable cause?
II. Statement of Facts
Roy Caballes was pulled over for speeding when Trooper Gillette alerted Trooper Graham by radio of the stop. Graham stated that he was going to come to the scene and use a drug-detection dog on his car. After checking license and registration, Trooper Gillette asked Caballes’ permission to search his car, which Caballes denied. After his refusal, Trooper Gillette asked Caballes if he had been arrested before, which Caballes denied as well. Gillette contacted the police station and learned that Caballes had actually been arrested twice for the distribution of marijuana. While Trooper Gillette was writing the warning ticket for Caballes, Trooper Graham arrived to the scene and walked around the respondent’s car with a drug-detection dog that detected the presence of drugs. Trooper Gillette then searched the car after the apparent detection of drugs and Caballes was convicted of cannabis trafficking ($250,000 of marijuana) in an Illinois district
court. Caballes asserted that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated and the policemen conducted unreasonable searches and seizures. He affirmed that the policemen did not have reasonable suspicion to use a drug-detection dog on his car in the first place and demanded that the evidence be excluded from the trial under the exclusionary rule. The Illinois appellate court ruled that the troopers’ search was reasonable and upheld Caballes’ conviction. After Caballes appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, the court concurred with Caballes’ acclamation that the police conducted an unreasonable search and seizure.
The Fourth Amendment permits “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Included in the Fourth Amendment is the exclusionary clause which states that evidence obtained illegally, by an unreasonable search for example, cannot be used to prosecute a defendant in a criminal case.
The Constitution does not explicitly define what constitutes a ‘search’ or what is ‘probable cause.’
It was apparent that Caballes was cannabis trafficking, yet he argued that the evidence should not be applicable in the case because it had been obtained illegally. The discussion of whether the use of a drug detection dog is considered an unreasonable search is controversial and complex. In the 1968 case,
Terry v. Ohio,
‘Terry stops’ were established which allows quick stop and frisks of persons if an officer has reasonable suspicion. Similarly, the policemen used drug detection dogs on the
of Caballes’ car which gave them probable cause to actual seize the drugs in his trunk. Furthermore, in
the 1993 case
United States v. Seals
, the US Supreme Court ruled that a canine sniff is not a search and officers do not need reasonable suspicion to conduct a canine sniff of the car’s exterior. If the presence of drugs is detected, this detection provides probable cause for the officers to physically search the car. It is evident that a drug detection dog is not an unreasonable search and actually provides basis for reasonable suspicion. Caballes’ Fourth Amendment rights were not violated because a canine-sniff is not an unreasonable search and Trooper Graham did not need a warrant to search Caballes’ car; moreover, the evidence obtained from Caballes’ car was legally able to be used in a trial.
Drug detection dogs are not considered unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment and policemen do not need reasonable suspicion to perform canine sniffs on a car during a traffic stop.
543 U.S. 405 (2005).”
University Law School
2008. Legal Information Institute. 5 May 2008. <
Fleck, Terry. “Vehicle Sniffs.”
January 2008. Narcotic and Contraband Canine Legal Update and Opinions. 5 May 2008. <
Madigan, Lisa and Gary Feinerman etc. “Illinois v. Caballes (2005).”
2003. Supreme Court Briefs. 4 May 2008.
“Terry v. Ohio
, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).”
4 May 2008. The Oyez Project. 4 May 2008.
“Using Drug Detection Dogs.”
2008. Highbeam Research, Inc. 3 May 2008. <
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