Oregon Court of Appeals Rules Police Intercepting Mail for Drug Dog Test is Unlawful

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Oregon Court of Appeals Rules Police Intercepting Mail for Drug Dog Test is Unlawful

dogsniffIt’s illegal for police and U.S. postal inspectors to intercept packages and have a police dog test it simply because they believe it contains contraband, according to a new ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The ruling, which will likely put an end to a long-standing police practice of intercepting mail without first obtaining a search warrant, came forth over a case where Portland police and a U.S. postal inspector intercepted a package headed to a Southeast Portland home because they believe it contained contraband, something a drug dog later confirmed. This led to the arrest of 26 year old Max Barnthouse.

However, the U.S. postal inspector and police had no legal authority to intercept the package just because they thought it might contain contraband, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

“We conclude that, for an in-transit USPS express mail package, the police may not detain such a package without probable cause and a warrant or without the existence of one of the carefully delineated exceptions to the warrant requirement,” the appeals court ruled.

The full ruling, including details about the case, can be found by clicking here.

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