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Search Of Abandoned Property Admissible

In State v. Gould, the Ohio Supreme Court held a search of abandoned property admissible when it held that the police can search an abandoned hard drive. The suspect in this case had left a hard drive behind in his apartment in August 2006. When he left the apartment, he stole a truck belonging to his brother, who was also his roommate. He also concealed himself until he was arrested in Michigan in June 2007. The suspect never asked about the hard drive and never tried to get it back. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that these actions amounted to abandonment of the hard drive. Because the property was abandoned, the police were free to search the hard drive when the suspect’s mother turned it over to them.


A lot was riding on this analysis, as the defendant was convicted of rape, gross sexual imposition, and child pornography (pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance). The trial court subsequently sentenced the suspect to two concurrent life sentences for the rape convictions.


The Ohio Supreme Court cited the well-known principle that “the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches does not apply to property that has been voluntarily abandoned, because society does not recognize an expectation of privacy in abandoned property as being objectively reasonable.” This follows a line of decisions that held that one does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their garbage.


To learn more, read my other posts related to this topic. I wrote about other exceptions to the warrant requirement, including the emergency aid exception, good faith exception, and hot pursuit. I also wrote about instances where the courts did not extend the exception to the warrant requirement, such as the limitation on the use of drug dogs and Ohio’s limits on traffic stops.


Attorney Gigiano is a Wadsworth criminal law lawyer in Medina County. His dedication to his client’s interests has earned high ratings of Daniel Gigiano in numerous websites. His willingness to take on tough cases and work hard has also resulted in articles and links to his work. If you have been accused of a crime and have questions you need answered by an experienced Wooster criminal law lawyer near Orrville, Massillon criminal law lawyer near Doylestown, Ohio, or an Akron criminal law lawyer near Barberton, please call Attorney Daniel F. Gigiano at 330-336-3330.