MSC mini-oral argument: Is drug dog false alert sufficient for probable cause?

In People v. Robertson, No. 151342, the Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument on whether the defendant should be given leave to appeal the Court of Appeals’ decision that the police’s search of his person was supported by probable cause. The defendant was charged with one count of possession of heroin with intent to deliver under MCL 333.7401(2)(a)(iii). Police found the heroin in the defendant’s boxer shorts after a drug dog “alerted” at defendant’s luggage at a bus station, although no drugs were found in the luggage.

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress the heroin as evidence because the arresting officer did not have probable cause to search his person, and the case was dismissed. The Court of Appeals reversed and ordered that the charges be reinstated because the drug dog’s alert, along with the defendant’s evasive behavior and the fact that he was traveling with someone suspected of transporting heroin, was enough to establish probable cause to search the defendant for drugs.