Jardines v. State

Decision Date14 April 2011
Docket NumberNo. SC08–2101.,SC08–2101.
Citation73 So.3d 34
PartiesJoelis JARDINES, Petitioner, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court


Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Howard K. Blumberg, Assistant Public Defender, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Miami, FL, for Petitioner.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, Richard L. Polin, Bureau Chief, and Charmaine Millsaps, Assistant Attorneys General, Miami, FL, for Respondent.

Arthur T. Daus, III, Fort Lauderdale, FL, on behalf of Police K–9 Magazine and Canine Development Group, as Amicus Curiae.PERRY, J.

We have for review State v. Jardines, 9 So.3d 1 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008), in which the district court certified conflict with State v. Rabb, 920 So.2d 1175 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. We quash the decision in Jardines and approve the result in Rabb.

Police conducted a warrantless “sniff test” by a drug detection dog at Jardines' home and discovered live marijuana plants inside. The trial court granted Jardines' motion to suppress the evidence, and the State appealed. The district court reversed, and Jardines sought review in this Court. Jardines claims that the warrantless “sniff test” violated his right against unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment. The issue presented here is twofold: (i) whether a “sniff test” by a drug detection dog conducted at the front door of a private residence is a “search” under the Fourth Amendment and, if so, (ii) whether the evidentiary showing of wrongdoing that the government must make prior to conducting such a search is probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

The Fourth Amendment provides that [t]he 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.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. The United States Supreme Court has held that [a]t the very core’ of the Fourth Amendment ‘stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.’ Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 31, 121 S.Ct. 2038, 150 L.Ed.2d 94 (2001) (quoting Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505, 511, 81 S.Ct. 679, 5 L.Ed.2d 734 (1961)). Or, more succinctly, [w]ith few exceptions, the question whether a warrantless search of a home is reasonable and hence constitutional must be answered no.” Kyllo, 533 U.S. at 31, 121 S.Ct. 2038.

First, the dog “sniff test” that was conducted in the present case was an intrusive procedure. As explained more fully below, the “sniff test” was a sophisticated undertaking that was the end result of a sustained and coordinated effort by various law enforcement agencies. On the scene, the procedure involved multiple police vehicles, multiple law enforcement personnel, including narcotics detectives and other officers, and an experienced dog handler and trained drug detection dog engaged in a vigorous search effort on the front porch of the residence. Tactical law enforcement personnel from various government agencies, both state and federal, were on the scene for surveillance and backup purposes. The entire on-the-scene government activity—i.e., the preparation for the “sniff test,” the test itself, and the aftermath, which culminated in the full-blown search of Jardines' home—lasted for hours. The “sniff test” apparently took place in plain view of the general public. There was no anonymity for the resident.

Such a public spectacle unfolding in a residential neighborhood will invariably entail a degree of public opprobrium, humiliation and embarrassment for the resident, for such dramatic government activity in the eyes of many—neighbors, passers-by, and the public at large—will be viewed as an official accusation of crime. Further, if government agents can conduct a dog “sniff test” at a private residence without any prior evidentiary showing of wrongdoing, there is nothing to prevent the agents from applying the procedure in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner, or based on whim and fancy, at the home of any citizen. Such an open-ended policy invites overbearing and harassing conduct. Accordingly, we conclude that a “sniff test,” such as the test that was conducted in the present case, is a substantial government intrusion into the sanctity of the home and constitutes a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. As such, it must be preceded by an evidentiary showing of wrongdoing.

And second, we note that the parties in the present case have failed to point to a single case in which the United States Supreme Court has indicated that a search for evidence for use in a criminal prosecution, absent special needs beyond the normal need of law enforcement, may be based on anything other than probable cause. We assume that this is because, as explained more fully below, all that Court's precedent in this area indicates just the opposite. And that precedent, we recognize, applies with extra force where the sanctity of the home is concerned. Accordingly, we conclude that probable cause, not reasonable suspicion, is the proper evidentiary showing of wrongdoing that the government must make prior to conducting a dog “sniff test” at a private residence.


On November 3, 2006, Detective Pedraja of the Miami–Dade Police Department received an unverified “crime stoppers” tip that the home of Joelis Jardines was being used to grow marijuana. One month later, on December 6, 2006, Detective Pedraja and Detective Bartlet and his drug detection dog, Franky, approached the residence. The underlying facts, which are discussed more fully below, are summarized briefly in the separate opinion of a district court judge in Jardines:

The Miami–Dade County Police Department received a Crime Stoppers tip that marijuana was being grown at the home of defendant-appellee Joelis Jardines. One month later the detective went to the home at 7 a.m. He watched the home for fifteen minutes. There were no vehicles in the driveway, the blinds were closed, and there was no observable activity.

After fifteen minutes, the dog handler arrived with the drug detection dog. The handler placed the dog on a leash and accompanied the dog up to the front door of the home. The dog alerted to the scent of contraband.

The handler told the detective that the dog had a positive alert for the odor of narcotics. The detective went up to the front door for the first time, and smelled marijuana. The detective also observed that the air conditioning unit had been running constantly for fifteen minutes or so, without ever switching off. [N. 8. According to the detective, in a hydroponics lab for growing marijuana, high intensity light bulbs are used which create heat. This causes the air conditioning unit to run continuously without cycling off.]

The detective prepared an affidavit[ 1] and applied for a search warrant, which was issued. A search was conducted, which confirmed that marijuana was being grown inside the home. The defendant was arrested.

The defendant moved to suppress the evidence seized at his home. The trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing at which the detective and the dog handler testified. The trial court suppressed the evidence on authority of State v. Rabb.Jardines, 9 So.3d at 10–11 (Cope, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (footnote omitted).

The State appealed the suppression ruling, and the district court reversed based on the following reasoning:

In sum, we reverse the order suppressing the evidence at issue. We conclude that no illegal search occurred. The officer had the right to go up to defendant's front door. Contrary to the holding in Rabb, a warrant was not necessary for the drug dog sniff, and the officer's sniff at the exterior door of defendant's home should not have been viewed as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” The trial judge should have concluded substantial evidence supported the magistrate's determination that probable cause existed. Moreover, the evidence at issue should not have been suppressed because its discovery was inevitable. To the extent our analysis conflicts with Rabb, we certify direct conflict.

Jardines, 9 So.3d at 10 (footnote omitted). Jardines sought review in this Court based on certified conflict with State v. Rabb, 920 So.2d 1175 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006),2 which we granted.3


The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution contains both the Search and Seizure Clause and the Warrant Clause and provides as follows in full:

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.

U.S. Const. amend. IV.4 With respect to the meaning of the amendment, the courts have come to accept the formulation set forth by Justice Harlan in Katz5:

As the Court's opinion states, “the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places.” The question, however, is what protection it affords to those people. Generally, as here, the answer to that question requires reference to a “place.” My understanding of the rule that has emerged from prior decisions is that there is a twofold requirement, first that a person have exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy and, second, that the expectation be one that society is prepared to recognize as “reasonable. Thus a man's home is, for most purposes, a place where he expects privacy, but objects, activities, or statements that he exposes to the “plain view” of outsiders are not “protected” because no intention to keep them to himself has been exhibited. On the other hand, conversations in the open would not be protected against being overheard, for the expectation of privacy under the...

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