Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Important Massachusetts K9 Laws You Should Understand

Two men in September 2021 were arrested in Tewksbury on charges of drug trafficking as well as various other offenses related to fentanyl and crack cocaine that were found in their motor vehicle. Law enforcement responded to reports of a suspicious motor vehicle parked in the Walmart parking lot and commented that both driver and passenger appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Law enforcement also reports that items appearing to be drug paraphernalia were in plain sight. 

While investigating the incident, law enforcement states that one of the men tried to run away but that he later ended up in custody. A K9 unit then performed a search, which led to the discovery of 14 grams of fentanyl and the arrest of the second individual. Both men who were charged with offenses were later due in District Court for drug tracking offenses involving over 10 grams as well as possession of crack cocaine and possession of counterfeit notes. One of the suspects also faces an additional charge for operating under the influence of drugs. 

Law enforcement has utilized K9 forces for several years in detecting the presence of drugs. Our lawyers understand the complex law related to drug searches, including those involving K9 forces.

Carey v. Commissioner of Corrections

This case involved the department of correction’s decision to implement a policy that subjected visitors to correctional facilities who are not lawyers due to searches by K9 forces. The court in this case found that this policy was not inconsistent with the department's regulations but that the department failed to adhere to Administrative Procedure Act requirements. The case was then remanded to Massachusetts Superior Court for entry of a judgment declaring that the department was required to (although it had not) meet the requirements of the Act when it adopted the regulation. The court found that the Act did not conflict with existing department regulations. 

Lesson learned: The police can conduct K9 searches of people who visit Massachusetts correctional facilities.

Commonwealth v. Lawson

A defendant’s motion to suppress marijuana that was found in his vehicle lies at the heart of this case. Massachusetts lower court found that there was no justification for a search for narcotics or to search a vehicle with a K9 force. The Massachusetts Appellate Court disagreed with this decision, though. The Appellate Court found that where the defendant was unable to show a valid driver’s license as well as demonstrated nervous behavior, had a prior drug distribution record, had a vehicle equipped with multiple air fresheners, and possessed a large amount of cash, sufficient reasons existed to search the vehicle with or without a K9 force. 

Lessons: Where sufficient reason exists, law enforcement can decide to use a K9 force to inspect your vehicle. 

Contact a Drug Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is faced with a drug-related criminal offense, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.