Do I have a legitimate complaint to make?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have a legitimate complaint to make?

I was stopped for having a taillight out, the officer asked if I consented to a search to which I replied no. He then had me step out and brought a dog to check and the dog apparently smelled something. In the end there wasn’t anything in the vehicle, as I departed with only the taillight citation and no apology. I feel like my rights have been violated. Do I have a legitimate legal grievance?

Asked on May 22, 2019 under Criminal Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Depending on the exact circumstances (did the dog enter the car without your consent, which would be illegal? or did the dog smell something from outside the car, where the dog could legally be?) you may have a legal claim in theory. In practice, you do not have one, since the compensation you could receive were you to sue is related to the harm or damage you suffered, and since you were not cited for drugs and were allowed to depart, you suffered no harm or damage. Hence, there is nothing to compensate you for.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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