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Posts tagged "United States Supreme Court"

Mandatory DUI Blood Tests Unconstitutional

Many states, including Ohio, criminalize the refusal to submit to alcohol testing after being arrested for DUI.  The United States Supreme Court, in ruling mandatory DUI blood tests unconstitutional, imposed severe limits on such state laws. 

 

Individual Rights And Liberties Are More Important Than Getting Tough On Crime

This case sends a message to get tough on crime advocates:  citizens' personal liberty cannot be infringed in the name of enforcing criminal laws.  The United States was formed on the notion of individual rights and freedoms.  The U.S. Supreme Court reminded us of this fact in its decision.

 

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Ohio Courts And The People Who Work There

Identifying courts and court personnel in Ohio courts requires the right resources. There are trial courts, courts of appeals, supreme courts, and the people who work at these courts.  This article is a guide for the some of the most common Ohio courts the people who work there. (more…)

Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal?

Can police use sobriety checkpoints to stop and check to see if the drivers may be driving under the influence of alcohol? In other words, are sobriety checkpoints legal?   The United States Supreme Court held that sobriety checkpoints are valid. In their decision, the Court found that the intrusion and inconvenience to individuals who are stopped is outweighed by the government’s interest in restricting drunk driving. Ohio courts determined that there are four factors to determining the legality of a sobriety checkpoint: (1) a checkpoint location must be selected for its safety and visibility to oncoming motorists; (2) adequate advance warning signs illuminated at night, must timely inform approaching motorists of the nature of the impending intrusion; (3) uniformed officers and official vehicles must be in sufficient quantity and visibility to show the police power of the community; and (4) policy-making administrative officers must make a pre-determination of the roadblock location, time, and procedures to be employed, according to carefully formulated standards and neutral criteria.   (more…)

Police Can Make A Warrantless Stop To Give Emergency Aid

The Ohio Supreme Court, in State v. Dunn, ruled that the police can make a warrantless stop to give emergency aid. In this case, the officer received a radio dispatch that there was a suicidal male driving a tow truck who was planning to kill himself. Although the officer did not observe any traffic violations, the vehicle stop was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Ohio Supreme Court said that the stop was justified under a community caretaking or emergency aid exception to the Fourth Amendment’s restrictions for warrantless searches and seizures. Because police have a duty “to provide emergency services to those who are in danger of physical harm” such stops will often be held to be valid. This exception eliminates the need to show a reasonable basis to rely on the accuracy of a tip, as that standard only applies to investigating suspected criminal activity.   (more…)

Prosecutorial Misconduct

What is prosecutorial misconduct?  Improper remarks during trial, failure to disclose exculpatory evidence and knowing use of perjured testimony are just a few examples.  Sometimes, a prosecutor’s misconduct amounts to grounds for reversible error under Ohio Revised Code 2945.79 (R.C. 2945.79).   What comments can give rise to prosecutorial misconduct?  The following examples are remarks that can deprive the defendant of a fair trial:  
  1. Adversely commenting on a defendant’s failure to testify at trial.
  2. Use of a defendant’s silence before or after arrest as substantive evidence of guilt.
  3. Unfair or derogatory personal references to defense counsel during trial.
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Can A Person Waive The Right To Remain Silent?

Can a person waive the right to remain silent?  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to remain silent, often referred to as “pleading the fifth.”  Ohio also guarantees this right in Article 1, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution.   In the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the court said that the following warnings must be given prior to a custodial interrogation:   (more…)

Police Took The Suspect Into Custody

What does it mean when someone says that the police took the suspect into custody?  There are a number of factors that courts use to determine whether a person is in custody.  Why is this important?  Miranda warnings must be given if a suspect is questioned while in custody.  If the warnings are not given, the suspect’s answers cannot be used at trial.   The factors as set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291 (1980), are as follows:
  1. Did the person feel free to leave at that location (home vs. police station);
  2. Was the person a suspect at the time the questioning began;
  3. Was the person’s freedom to leave restricted in any way;
  4. Was the person handcuffed or told he or she was under arrest;
  5. Were threats made during the questioning;
  6. Was the person physically intimidated during the questioning;
  7. Did the police verbally dominate the questioning;
  8. What was the person’s purpose for being at the place the questioning took place;
  9. Were neutral parties present at any point during the questioning;
  10. Did the police try to overpower, trick or coerce the person into making a statement.
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Traffic Stops Cannot Be Extended For A Drug Dog Sniff

Traffic stops cannot be extended for a drug dog sniff.  On April 21, 2015, the United States Supreme Court, in Dennys Rodriguez v. United States, held that police may not keep the motorist waiting after the ticket is written they have no reasonable suspicion justifying the extra time.  Essentially, police may not turn routine traffic stops into drug searches using trained dogs.  Police officers who stop a car for a traffic violation are justified in “checking the driver’s license, determining whether there are outstanding warrants against the driver, and inspecting the automobile’s registration and proof of insurance.”  “These checks serve the same objective as enforcement of the traffic code: ensuring that vehicles on the road are operated safely and responsibly.”  A dog sniff is “not an ordinary incident of a traffic stop,” but is instead, “a measure aimed at detecting evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” (more…)

Ohio Has A Unique Restriction On Traffic Stops

Ohio has a unique restriction on traffic stops.  The Ohio Supreme Court, in its Robinette decision, said that police officers may not request consent for a search of a vehicle, once the purpose of the initial traffic stop is completed and there is no evidence of any wrongdoing beyond the reason for the traffic stop.  The Supreme Court of Ohio said that the courts have an obligation to protect the ordinary law-abiding citizen from intrusive, illegal and overbearing government action.  This protection is necessary because most people are not aware of their right to refuse consent to a search of their vehicle. The United States Supreme Court, in its review of this decision, declined to adopt this rule for the entire nation.  In doing so, the rule was left intact in Ohio.  This was an unfortunate decision, as the Ohio Supreme Court got it right in this instance.  Authorities should not be allowed to further detain people and request consent after they have already issued a citation, and checked for license, registration and insurance.  This person should be free to drive off without being subjected to a fishing expedition. (more…)