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Last December, this blog discussed a story where police used a trained dog to sniff a car seeking evidence of drugs during a Novato, California traffic stop. Courts generally have held that a dog-sniff outside a car is not a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and therefore police do not need to obtain a warrant before using a dog outside a car. But the United States Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the legal analysis is different outside the front door of a home.

The issue rose to the high court on an appeal from a drug crime case out of Florida. The state high court had ruled that drugs discovered after police brought a trained drug sniffing dog to a home without a warrant were not admissible in a criminal trial against a resident of the home. Prosecutors appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the case, police say that they had received a tip that a marijuana growing operation was going on inside the home. An investigator brought his K-9 to the home and had the dog sniff the base of the front door.

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In 1981, the United States Supreme Court ruled that officers have the authority to detain people without suspicion of criminal activity during the execution of a search warrant at a residence.

The 1981 ruling was based on the concepts of officer safety and to keep a person from fleeing during a raid. However, the high court provided more clarification to the scope of the constitutional authority law enforcement has in detaining people without suspicion during a raid in a ruling handed down Tuesday.

The justices voted six to three limiting the authority of police to detain a person related to a search to the immediate vicinity of the location identified in the search warrant. Generally, law enforcement is not entitled under our Constitution to unreasonably detain a person without a basis to suspect the person of criminal activity.

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Experienced Santa Cruz marijuana cultivation attorneys know that state law allows certain individuals to grow marijuana for medical purposes. It is not uncommon for law enforcement to come to different conclusions in different cases. However, the conclusion law enforcement reaches remains merely an accusation if charges do arise.

The two raids this week in Arcata resulted in only one of the cases leading to charges. On March 14, police served a search warrant at a home and claim they discovered nearly 700 marijuana plants and over two pounds of processed marijuana. Police say they also seized marijuana cultivation equipment in the March 14 raid.

A 36-year-old Arcata man reportedly was placed under arrest and will face charges of possession of marijuana for sale, operating a house for the manufacture of drugs, cultivation of marijuana, transportation of marijuana, possession of concentrated cannabis and possession of psilocybin mushrooms.

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