Law Enforcement Bulletin

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > July 2015 > Search and Seizure (Traffic Stops and Statutory Jurisdiction): State v. Brown

Law Enforcement Bulletin RSS feeds

Search and Seizure (Traffic Stops and Statutory Jurisdiction): State v. Brown

Question: Can officers make stops for minor misdemeanor traffic offenses outside of their statutory jurisdiction or authority?

Quick Answer: No. It is an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Ohio Constitution. 

State v. Brown, Ohio Supreme Court, June 23, 2015

Facts: A township police officer stopped a vehicle for a marked-lanes violation on an interstate highway. The officer’s drug-sniffing dog alerted to drugs in the vehicle and the officer conducted a search. The officer found 120 oxycodone pills and marijuana inside the vehicle. Both parties agreed that the township police officer did not have law enforcement powers to stop the defendant for a minor misdemeanor traffic offense on an interstate highway.
Importance: The evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful search and seizure was suppressed. 

Keep in Mind: In determining whether a search or seizure is reasonable, the courts will balance the extent of the intrusion on an individual’s privacy interests against the governmental interest in effective law enforcement. In this case, the court found that law enforcement’s interest in allowing officers to make minor misdemeanor traffic stops outside their jurisdiction is minimal and outweighed by the intrusion on the individual’s liberty.