I was riding passenger in a vehicle and we were pulled over. The cops checked our I.D.'a and when everything came back clear they then asked the driver if they could search the vehicle, his company issued work truck. He said no and the cops said okay and for us to just relax for a little bit. A short time later (like 10-15 minutes) they asked us to step out of the vehicle and they had us sit on the curb while a k-9 unit walked the perimeter of the vehicle. The dog barked on the driver side and the cops searched the truck and found a baggy with something in it and placEd us both in cuffs. They then took the drivers phone and read the texts and came back and said they had texts on the phone between the 2 of us making a sale for the baggy of drugs they found and arrested us both. The driver for dangerous drug violation and the passenger for narcotic drug violation and drug paraphernalia violation.
I am not an AZ lawyer so I cannot comment on matters of AZ law or procedure. However, had you asked this question in Florida, where I have been a practicing criminal defense attorney for a quarter of a century, then I would say that you have no right to privacy in the scent that emanates from your vehicle (or the car that you are riding in) but you do in your cell phone, and, absent consent, a warrant is required to search that cell phone.
All things equal, a stop for a traffic infraction (like speeding or an equipment violation) can last only as long as is reasonably necessary for the officer to accomplish the purpose of the stop... Meaning that they can run your tag, your DL and the vehicle registration, and they can check for compliance with the requirement that you carry proof of insurance, and then they can write you a ticket, but once all of that is done the lawful detention ends, and if the cops don’t let you promptly go about your business then you may have been unlawfully detained.
But, if, during the course of the detention the officer develops a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being or is about to be committed (like if you were having a clam bake and s/he smells the odor of marijuana emanating from your car) then, you can be further detained, and in the event that the officer has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that drugs are involved then you can be detained FOR A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF TIME (caps intentional) until a K-9 arrives. (What is or is not a "reasonable amount of time" is subject to discussion, but 10-15 miniutes is almost certainly going to be found to be "reasonable".)
Still, absent reasonabel suspicion, if a cop merely has an unfounded hunch then the normal rules apply and you can’t lawfully be kept on the roadside any longer than is necessary to accomplish the purposes of the stop. If you are kept waiting on a K-9 under those circumstances then, regardless of both what they ultimately find or how long they make you wait, you have been unlawfully detained and the evidence should be suppressed.
As for seizing the phone and treading the texts, absent consent that is an unlawful search and seizure. The text messages should be suppressed even if the dope isn't.
That said, again I am not an AZ lawyer and you are best advised to find a Phoenix, AZ area criminal defense lawyer, engage in a meaningful consultation and get yourself some advise which is legally sound and has been custom tailored to meet your needs in your case.
I hope that I have been helpful in answering your question.
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The biggest hurrle will be overcoming the scent of a dog. Generally the smelling of a dog is not a 4th amendment violation but you need to speak to a local attorney to protect your rights
Was the k9 search legal? Based on your description, the search appears legal, but you should consult privately with a local criminal attorney to review all the specific details and discuss your options.
Under a 2014 US Supreme Court decision called Riley v. California, unless consent to search the phone was given, an officer has to get a search warrant to look through a phone that has been seized.
The search may be legal, but the time you had to wait may not be. New case law says you can't be held up for no reason. More info would be needed.
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