About Search And Seizure Law
Both the United States and Ohio Constitutions protect against unreasonable search and seizure. In criminal law, the general rule is that a warrant is required to validate a search; however, many exceptions apply. Search and seizure law is extremely fact-specific and no two cases are the same.
Below, we have assembled some information regarding Ohio drug searches. Understand that Ohio search and seizure law is extremely complicated; our goal is to provide you with a basic understanding of this area, but if you have been arrested, it is crucial to contact an experienced Ohio drug charge defense attorney.
The criminal defense lawyers at Rittgers & Rittgers are experienced in contesting warrantless or illegal searches and seizures. Here are samples of the criminal cases we have handled. For a consultation, call 513-932-2115 or email us.
Did an Illegal Drug Search Occur?
When Ohio law enforcement officers or federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents conduct a search or seizure without a warrant, it does not necessarily mean they acted unreasonably, violating your Fourth Amendment rights. Here is a list of exceptions to the warrant requirement for search and seizure:
- Consent to search
- Searches incident to a valid arrest
- Entry of premises while in “hot pursuit” of a dangerous suspect
- Entry of premises or search for the protection of law enforcement personnel
- Where exigent circumstances require action before evidence is destroyed
- Inventory searches for the belongings of a person or property taken into custody
- Border searches
- Seizure of items in “plain view” so no search is necessary
- Police make a limited search of the suspect or surroundings if they have articulable objective grounds for reasonable suspicion that it is necessary for their self-protection
- Government regulators inspecting within an industry, as defined by statute
To determine whether a search was legal, it is also important to know that, generally, there is no constitutional infirmity to a search if the person complaining had no reasonable expectation of privacy. If you work for a private, nongovernment employer, then a search is probably valid under the Constitution.
The Police Searched My Car
Automobile searches have their own unique considerations involving the Fourth Amendment. Unfortunately, the law does not protect a person’s privacy rights in his or her automobile as much as in the home. The automobile exception permits warrantless searches of a vehicle if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to justify the search.
Drug-related charges stemming from the search of an automobile often require a thorough search and seizure analysis, starting with the traffic stop. Police will typically claim they had probable cause to search after the traffic stop. Probable cause searches often involve unique fact patterns — no two cases are exactly alike — so there may be an opportunity to argue that there was an illegal search and seizure depending on the facts of the case.
The stakes are high in drug smuggling cases involving automobiles.
There is a high likelihood that the government will attempt to take your vehicle through a forfeiture action. If you were arrested transporting a large amount of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or another controlled substance, your future may depend largely on drug search warrant issues.
Ohio’s Drug-Sniffing Police Dogs
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has had a great deal of success using police dogs to detect drugs during routine traffic stops of tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles. People accused of drug smuggling often want to know if use of the dogs ever constitutes an illegal search.
Each case has unique circumstances, but typically hinge on the length of the detention prior to the canine unit arriving on the scene. If you have been arrested after a dog detected drugs during a traffic stop, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced Ohio drug charge defense lawyer as quickly as possible.
Consultation With an Experienced Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing drug possession, trafficking or smuggling charges, you have a lot at stake. Choosing your criminal defense attorney may be a decision that impacts the rest of your life and those close to you.
At Rittgers & Rittgers, we provide initial consultations to people charged with drug crimes in Ohio. We serve the Greater Cincinnati area from our Cincinnati, Lebanon and Oxford offices, including Warren, Hamilton and Butler counties. Call or contact us to confidentially discuss your situation with a skilled lawyer.