Canada high court: Police need 'reasonable suspicion' to use drug dogs

Sept. 27, 2013 at 3:02 PM

OTTAWA, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Canadian police can use drug-sniffing dogs without a warrant if they have "reasonable" suspicion of a drug crime, the Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court upheld the convictions of two men, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Mandeep Chehil of Nova Scotia was arrested in 2005 after a dog detected cocaine in his suitcase, while in 2006 police found about 30 pounds of marijuana in Benjamin MacKenzie's car trunk in Saskatchewan after a dog alerted on it.

Both men were acquitted by lower courts that found no reasonable grounds for suspicion. But their convictions were reinstated by an appeals court and have now been confirmed.

The ruling gives further definition to what police can consider "reasonable suspicion," the CBC said.

"The deployment of a dog trained to detect illegal drugs using its sense of smell is a search that may be carried out without prior judicial authorization where the police have a reasonable suspicion based on objective, ascertainable facts that evidence of an offence will be discovered," the court said.

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