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Law change affects possession of drug paraphernalia

Senate Bill 337 goes into effect Sept. 28, 2012. Among other things, SB 337 makes possession of drug paraphernalia for the purpose of using marijuana a minor misdemeanor.


United States v. Lyons — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky)

Question: Can peace officers rely on probable cause based on information from Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents if their own pretextual reason to stop falls through?

Quick Answer: Yes, officers may rely on probable cause based on information obtained by fellow officers or DEA agents in order to conduct a stop even if the officers’ pretextual reason to make the stop falls through.


United States v. Sharp — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky)

Question: If a narcotics detection dog jumps through an open window and sniffs the inside of a car, does that amount to a search that would violate the Fourth Amendment?

Quick Answer: No, if a trained canine instinctively jumps into a car without officers’ encouragement or facilitation and sniffs the inside of the car, there is no Fourth Amendment violation.


United States v. Voustianiouk — Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Connecticut, New York, Vermont)

Question: When a magistrate judge grants a search warrant of a specific apartment, can officers expand that search to other nearby apartments?

Quick Answer: No, when officers enter an apartment not specified in a search warrant without additional probable cause, it is an unconstitutional search because they knowingly stepped beyond the bounds of the search they were authorized to conduct.


State v. Wilcox — Second District Court of Appeals (Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, and Montgomery counties)

Question: May peace officers detain any passenger of a car while they write a citation for the driver?
Quick Answer: No, officers can’t detain passengers at a traffic stop unless they have some reasonable, articulable basis for doing so.


State v. Hammen — Fifth District Court of Appeals

Question: Is “pacing” a car an acceptable manner for determining speed?

Quick Answer: Yes, pacing is an acceptable manner for determining speed when a peace officer can base a car’s speed on his own perception and on years of experience and training in checking speed and pacing.


State v. Walker — Eleventh District Court of Appeals (Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage, and Trumbull counties), July 23, 2012

Question: If an officer stops a car for failing to properly display a license plate, does his justification for the stop end once he gets close enough to the car to decipher the numbers on a temporary license tag hanging in the window?

Quick Answer: No, officers may detain the occupants for a period of time sufficient to run a computer check on the driver’s license, registration, and vehicle plates and to issue the driver a warning or citation.


In re J.S. — Twelfth District Court of Appeals (Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble, and Warren counties), Aug. 6, 2012

Question: Are juveniles treated the same as adults when determining custody under Miranda?

Quick Answer: No. There is a heightened sensitivity to questioning juveniles, so you should be more careful about giving Miranda warnings sooner.


State v. Elliott — Seventh District Court of Appeals (Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Jefferson, Mahoning, Monroe, and Noble counties), July 11, 2012

Question: May a peace officer prolong the length of the traffic stop beyond the time necessary to issue a citation for a broken headlight in order to wait for the K-9 unit to arrive?

Quick Answer: No, an officer may only extend a traffic stop if there is reasonable suspicion. Otherwise, the officer must conduct a K-9 sniff of the vehicle during the time required to effectuate the original purpose of the stop.


Law Enforcement Conference offers great training, networking opportunities

Registration is under way for the Ohio Attorney General’s 2012 Law Enforcement Conference, set for Oct. 25–26 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. The annual event provides law enforcement and others with excellent training and networking opportunities.