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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > January 2014 > Search of Property (Warrant Particularity Requirement): State of Ohio v. Baro

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Search of Property (Warrant Particularity Requirement): State of Ohio v. Baro

Question: If you want to search multiple open booths in a flea market, how many warrants do you need?
Quick Answer: One warrant is needed if all of the booths are contained in a single-use, single-story building.

State of Ohio v. Baro, Tenth Appellate District, Franklin County, Nov. 21, 2013
Facts: The Franklin County Sheriff's Office was informed that counterfeit merchandise was being sold at a flea market. Detective Joe Schuler conducted a plain-clothes canvass of flea market for the counterfeit merchandise with an expert, who noted counterfeit merchandise was being sold at all but two of the booths in operation on the day of the canvass. Schuler applied for and executed a single warrant for the flea market. At the time of the search, Siradjou Baro was in control of four booths at the flea market. Investigators seized items including merchandise offered for sale and merchandise tags containing company trademarks. Baro filed a motion to suppress the evidence of counterfeit merchandise because the warrant did not particularly describe the place to be searched.
Importance: The Fourth Amendment requires a search warrant to state with particularity the places and items authorized to be searched. Baro argued that because each booth was owned by a separate person, separate warrants should have been issued. The court determined that because the flea market was a single-use structure containing open displays and booths, one warrant was sufficient.
Keep in Mind: The rule of particularity was not violated in this case because of the type of building in which the flea market was housed. If the building had multiple floors with multiple uses, the warrant would need to state with particularity the purpose and location of the search.
More on Property Searches
What other evidence could you possibility need? You receive a confidential tip from a reliable informant that crack is being sold out of a duplex. After checking the police department hotline to see if any complaints have been received on this address, you find one open complaint and decide to conduct surveillance. People come and go at the location, consistent with drug activity. Using the informant, you also conduct two successful controlled buys. These two buys were made at the other address associated with the duplex, and not the address where you watched the previous activity. With this evidence, you request a search warrant on both sides of the duplex, on one side finding a hand gun, digital scale with residue, and measuring cup with residue and on the other side finding numerous bags of crack and a digital scale. Did you have probable cause to obtain the warrant? The court in Curry says absolutely, finding the warrant was based on more than the informant’s word, but independent observation and investigation by the detectives. State of Ohio v. Curry, Second Appellate District, Montgomery County, Dec. 13, 2013
Nosey Neighbors. After notification of possible drug activity in a neighborhood, you interview one of the witnesses. That individual is a neighbor who has watched the activity for a month and a half. She has documented when people come and go and has descriptions of the individuals and the types of vehicles driven. One is a maroon GMC pickup truck with a male driver and female passenger who go into the house and return to the car minutes later. Later, on patrol, you see a maroon GMC pickup truck with a male driver and female passenger. You follow the car and initiate a traffic stop for a marked lane violation. After obtaining verbal consent to search the vehicle, you find cocaine. Based on this traffic stop and the information provided by the neighbor, you request a search warrant for the possible drug house. Do you get the affidavit? The court in Garza says yes. Based on the personal observations of the witnesses, even though presented as hearsay from an unnamed source, coupled with the search of the vehicle matching the description of the informant, justified an assumption that illegal activity was probable on the property. State of Ohio v. Garza, Third Appellate District, Henry County, Dec. 16, 2013.
Ben Franklins for everyone! Through information from a cooperating source, you learn that counterfeit $100 bills are being passed around the local high school. The source tells you that the owner of the local ice cream shop, where the source is employed, is responsible for the counterfeiting. He also tells you the suspect always has large amount of marijuana at his residence and regularly has local high school students over to smoke and engage in sexual activity with him. The source also reveals the residence has security monitoring and tells you the location of the cameras. Based on this information, can you obtain a search warrant? The court in Rapp says yes. It found the information was from a reliable source and established a substantial basis to conclude the existence of marijuana, counterfeit money, and other items to indicate criminal activity. Although the source was unnamed, the detective vouched for his credibility and all information came from personal observations. State of Ohio v. Rapp, Seventh Appellate District, Mahoning County, Dec. 6, 2013