A police officer stops a vehicle after the driver changes lanes without signaling. While the driver and three passengers are still inside the car, a drug dog arrives on the scene and walks around the car until the dog sits down at the driver’s door. The dog has been trained to sit down if he smells drugs above his head and lay down if he smells the odor at ground level. The police then ordered the driver and passengers to get out of the car. After searching the car and finding nothing, the officers begin searching the driver and passengers one by one. After finding nothing on the driver or the first two passengers, the police search the last passenger and found two syringes in the passenger’s right front pants pocket and a bottle cap wrapped in a paper towel. The bottle cap had a burnt residue inside it that the officer suspected to be heroin. At this passenger’s trial for drug possession, his attorney argued that the evidence should be suppressed because the search violated his Fourth Amendment right “probable cause to search the occupants of the vehicle ‘without some sort of individualized probable cause’ as to each person.”
What Amendment is at issue here? [The 4th Amendment]
What does the 4th Amendment protect? [The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.]
Do you think that under the 4th amendment the evidence should be suppressed? [The Supreme Court of Virginia held that drug dog’s alert gave the officers probable cause to search the vehicle but “without something more, the positive alert did not provide probable cause sufficiently particularized as to [the passenger] to allow the search of his person.” They distinguished this case from one in which an officer found drugs in the vehicle and then searched all of the passengers. The search of all of the passengers was allowed in that case because the officer had probable cause to believe that one of them had committed the crime. See Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366 (2003).]
Based on Whitehead v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 300, 683 S.E.2d 299 (2009).