Does your package fit the drug package profile? If so, there may be reasonable, articulable suspicion for the police to conduct a narcotics dog sniff. If the dog alerts to your package, probable cause will be established for the issuance of a search warrant.

The United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution protect all citizens with the fundamental right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Minn. Const. art. I, § 10. This right extends to packages shipped by air or ground delivery. Random drug sniffs of packages are never justified. So what factors would fit the drug package profile and justify a dog sniff? A combination of the following factors may create reasonable suspicion to believe a package contains contraband: (1) the size and shape of the package; (2) tape used to seal or close off all openings; (3) handwritten verses printed labels; (4) any unusual return name or address; (5) unusual odors coming from the package; (6) the use of a fictitious return address; (7) the package destination; (8) a source city and state for narcotics; (9) a heavily taped package (10) packages sent by costly next day air mail instead of ground delivery; (11) person to person delivery instead of business to business; and of course (12) evidence of a cash payment for the delivery.

Remember, criminal conduct must be distinguishable from the innocent conduct of a multitude of people in order to create the reasonable suspicion needed to justify a sniff by a narcotics detection dog. The fact that you chose to handwrite the shipping label or use next day air mail delivery is still innocent conduct done by the great majority of people who ship packages. A hunch by a police officer that the package contains narcotics is never enough. Protect your rights and consult with an experienced Minnesota drug defense attorney. The dog sniff may have been illegal.