William Wheetley, a police officer, was on a routine patrol in his police car with Aldo, a German shepherd dog trained to detect certain narcotics (methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy). Wheetley stopped Clayton Harris’s truck because it had an expired license plate. On approaching the driver’s side door, Wheetley saw that Harris was visibly nervous, shaking, and breathing rapidly. Wheetley also noticed an open can of beer in the truck’s cup holder. Wheetley asked Harris for consent to search the truck, but Harris refused. Wheetley then retrieved Aldo from the patrol car and walked him around Harris’s truck. Aldo stopped and alerted at the driver’s side door, signaling that he had smelled drugs there. Wheetley concluded, based principally on Aldo’s alert, that he had probable cause to search the truck. The search revealed 200 loose pseudoephedrine pills, 8,000 matches, a bottle of hydrochloric acid, two containers of antifreeze, and a coffee filter full of iodine crystals— all ingredients for making methamphetamine. Wheetley arrested Harris, and the state of Florida charged Harris with possession of pseudoephedrine for use in manufacturing methamphetamine. At trial, Harris moved to suppress the evidence found in his truck on the grounds that Aldo’s alert had not given Wheetley probable cause for the search and therefore the evidence against Harris was inadmissible under the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The trial court permitted the evidence to be submitted at trial. Did Aldo’s alert give Wheetley probable cause to search Harris’s truck? Florida v. Harris, 133 S. Ct. 1050, 2013 U. S. Lexis 1121 (Supreme Court of the United States, 2013)
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