RESPONDENT: Joelis Jardines
LOCATION: A Private Residence
DOCKET NO.: 11-564
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: Florida Supreme Court
CITATION: 569 US (2013)
GRANTED: Jan 06, 2012
ARGUED: Oct 31, 2012
DECIDED: Mar 26, 2013
Gregory G. Garre - for the petitioner
Howard K. Blumberg - for the respondent
Nicole A. Saharsky - Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner
Facts of the case
On November 3, 2006, the Miami-Dade Police Department received an unverified "crime stoppers" tip that the home of Joelis Jardines was being used to grow marijuana. On December 6, 2006, two detectives, along with a trained drug detection dog, approached the residence. The dog handler accompanied the dog to the front door of the home. The dog signaled that it detected the scent of narcotics. The detective also personally smelled marijuana.
The detective prepared an affidavit and applied for a search warrant, which was issued. A search confirmed that marijuana was being grown inside the home. Jardines was arrested and charged with trafficking cannabis. Jardines moved to suppress the evidence seized at his home on the theory that the drug dog's sniff was an impermissible search under the Fourth Amendment and that all subsequent evidence was fruit of the poisonous tree.
The trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing and subsequently ruled to suppress the evidence. The state appealed the suppression ruling and the state appellate court reversed, concluding that no illegal search had occurred since the officer had the right to go up to the defendant's front door and that a warrant was not necessary for the drug dog's sniff. The Florida Supreme Court reversed the appellate court's decision and concluded that the dog's sniff was a substantial government intrusion into the sanctity of the home and constituted a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The state of Florida appealed the Florida Supreme Court's decision.
Is a dog sniff at the front door of a suspected grow house by a trained narcotics detection dog a Fourth Amendment search requiring probable cause?
Media for Florida v. JardinesAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 31, 2012 in Florida v. Jardines
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 26, 2013 in Florida v. Jardines
John G. Roberts, Jr.:
Justice Scalia has the opinion of the Court this morning in case 11-564, Florida versus Jardines.
Come out from behind these briefs here.
This case is here on writ of certiorari from the Supreme Court of Florida.
The police received a tip that the respondent Joelis Jardines was growing marijuana in his home.
A surveillance team went to the home but saw nothing.
Two officers then took a dog trained to detect the smell of illegal drugs and approached Jardines' home.
The dog and his handler walked up to the front porch.
After sniffing around and going back and forth on the porch, the dog eventually sat down in front of Jardines' front door which is what he was trained to do upon finding the odor's strongest point.
The officers then secured a search warrant using what they had learned as establishing probable cause and marijuana plants were found in the home.
At trial, Jardines moved to suppress that evidence arguing that when the officers brought the dog up to his door, they had searched his home without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The trial court agreed with him, so did the Supreme Court of Florida and so do we.
The Fourth Amendment protects the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
This case does not concern what it means for a search to be unreasonable.
Rather, the question here is more fundamental.
What actions constitute a search?
The basic rule is that a search occurs for Fourth Amendment purposes when the Government physically intrudes for investigative purposes on one of the areas that the amendment protects, that is, intrudes on to persons, houses, papers, or effects.
Our later cases have supplemented this test but the basic approach keeps easy cases easy and by those lights, this is an easy case indeed.
First, there is no doubt that the officers physically intruded into an area protected by the Fourth Amendment.
In our law of search and seizure, the home is first among equals.
At the amendment's absolute core is the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from the state's gaze.
The area immediately surrounding the home which is called the curtilage has long been regarded as part of the home itself.
The police cannot without a warrant based on probable cause hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the house.
And the officers here had all four of their feet and all four of their companions planted firmly on that curtilage.
The front porch is the classic example of an area intimately associated with the life of the house.
The only remaining question is whether Jardines had given the officers permission even implicitly to be on his porch.
He had not.
It is true that by hanging a knocker on the front door, we implicitly invite visitors including the police to approach our homes in hopes of speaking with us.
But the scope of that invitation is limited to a particular place, to a brief duration, and just as importantly to a particular purpose.
No one is invited to come up to the home simply to snoop around.
No door-to-door salesman would think himself licensed to stand on the front porch and peer into the windows.