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Knowing How to Investigate Common Scams May Reveal Actual Crimes

With the holidays approaching, ‘tis the season for shopping, celebrating, and . . . scamming? Unfortunately, some consumers will fall victim to scammers at this time of year. However, some scams are actually thefts, so it’s important for law enforcement to investigate them as potential crimes.


Consider a Crime Scene Investigation Refresher Course

Crime scene investigation is one of law enforcement’s most prominent responsibilities. And while many of the skills required for successful investigations are taught in basic training, it’s wise to consider an occasional refresher course given today’s constantly evolving technology and investigation procedures.


BCI can reimburse costs related to sex offender extradition

The Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) makes available grant funding to reimburse sheriffs or prosecutors for the costs associated with the extradition of absconded sex offenders wanted in Ohio. 


State v. Browning — Ninth District Court of Appeals, (Lorain, Medina, Summit, and Wayne), Sept. 5, 2012

If a peace officer observes a car with an out-of-state license plate proceeding down a private drive, does he have reasonable suspicion that the occupant is engaged in criminal activity?


State v. Bonham — Fifth District Court of Appeals, Aug. 28, 2012

Does the odor of marijuana and observation of marijuana “shake” inside a car give peace officers probable cause for a warrantless search of the trunk?


State v. Jackson — Ninth District Court of Appeals, (Lorain, Medina, Summit, and Wayne), Aug. 22, 2012

When a polygraph examiner encourages a suspect to tell the truth and explain himself during a polygraph examination, are the suspect’s subsequent statements coerced?


U.S. v. Duenas — Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington), Aug. 16, 2012

Are members of the media permitted to enter a home, curtilage, or place where private owners have a reasonable expectation of privacy while officers are executing a search warrant?


U.S. v. Harrison — Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania), August 7, 2012

If officers reasonably believe that a house is abandoned, is their warrantless entry justified even when the house is not actually abandoned?


U.S. v. Scott — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky), Sept. 10, 2012

Does a suspect invoke his right to counsel when he writes “no” in response to the written question, “Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?”


Hagans v. Franklin County Sheriff’s Office — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky), Aug. 23, 2012

Is it excessive force for an officer to repeatedly deploy his taser against a suspect who actively resists arrest?


Law change affects possession of drug paraphernalia

Senate Bill 337 goes into effect Sept. 28, 2012. Among other things, SB 337 makes possession of drug paraphernalia for the purpose of using marijuana a minor misdemeanor.


United States v. Lyons — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky)

Question: Can peace officers rely on probable cause based on information from Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents if their own pretextual reason to stop falls through?

Quick Answer: Yes, officers may rely on probable cause based on information obtained by fellow officers or DEA agents in order to conduct a stop even if the officers’ pretextual reason to make the stop falls through.


United States v. Sharp — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky)

Question: If a narcotics detection dog jumps through an open window and sniffs the inside of a car, does that amount to a search that would violate the Fourth Amendment?

Quick Answer: No, if a trained canine instinctively jumps into a car without officers’ encouragement or facilitation and sniffs the inside of the car, there is no Fourth Amendment violation.


United States v. Voustianiouk — Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Connecticut, New York, Vermont)

Question: When a magistrate judge grants a search warrant of a specific apartment, can officers expand that search to other nearby apartments?

Quick Answer: No, when officers enter an apartment not specified in a search warrant without additional probable cause, it is an unconstitutional search because they knowingly stepped beyond the bounds of the search they were authorized to conduct.


State v. Wilcox — Second District Court of Appeals (Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, and Montgomery counties)

Question: May peace officers detain any passenger of a car while they write a citation for the driver?
Quick Answer: No, officers can’t detain passengers at a traffic stop unless they have some reasonable, articulable basis for doing so.


State v. Hammen — Fifth District Court of Appeals

Question: Is “pacing” a car an acceptable manner for determining speed?

Quick Answer: Yes, pacing is an acceptable manner for determining speed when a peace officer can base a car’s speed on his own perception and on years of experience and training in checking speed and pacing.


State v. Walker — Eleventh District Court of Appeals (Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage, and Trumbull counties), July 23, 2012

Question: If an officer stops a car for failing to properly display a license plate, does his justification for the stop end once he gets close enough to the car to decipher the numbers on a temporary license tag hanging in the window?

Quick Answer: No, officers may detain the occupants for a period of time sufficient to run a computer check on the driver’s license, registration, and vehicle plates and to issue the driver a warning or citation.


In re J.S. — Twelfth District Court of Appeals (Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble, and Warren counties), Aug. 6, 2012

Question: Are juveniles treated the same as adults when determining custody under Miranda?

Quick Answer: No. There is a heightened sensitivity to questioning juveniles, so you should be more careful about giving Miranda warnings sooner.


State v. Elliott — Seventh District Court of Appeals (Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Jefferson, Mahoning, Monroe, and Noble counties), July 11, 2012

Question: May a peace officer prolong the length of the traffic stop beyond the time necessary to issue a citation for a broken headlight in order to wait for the K-9 unit to arrive?

Quick Answer: No, an officer may only extend a traffic stop if there is reasonable suspicion. Otherwise, the officer must conduct a K-9 sniff of the vehicle during the time required to effectuate the original purpose of the stop.


Law Enforcement Conference offers great training, networking opportunities

Registration is under way for the Ohio Attorney General’s 2012 Law Enforcement Conference, set for Oct. 25–26 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. The annual event provides law enforcement and others with excellent training and networking opportunities.


State v. Quinn — Twelfth District Court of Appeals (Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble, and Warren counties), July 9, 2012

Questions: (1) Does a peace officer need to get a warrant to search a suspect’s garbage left in an alley for collection? (2) Can an officer establish probable cause for a warrant from complaints about drug activity and the contents found during a trash-pull? (3) Is a “search all persons on the premises” clause in a warrant invalid?

Quick answers: (1) No, garbage that is voluntarily left in a public area for collection is not protected under U.S. or Ohio search and seizure laws. (2) Yes, probable cause could be based independently on the contents found during a trash-pull, but it could not be based solely on uncorroborated complaints about drug activity. (3) It depends. If there is probable cause to support a search of every person on the premises, then the clause isn’t invalid.


State v. Sweeney — Eighth District Court of Appeals (Cuyahoga County), July 12, 2012

Question: Once the premises are secure, can a peace officer further detain an individual because he is a patron at a bar known for gun violence and drug activity?
Quick answer: No, not without any particularized suspicion that the individual was engaged in criminal activity.


State v. Butler, State v. Pickens — Fifth District Court of Appeals

Question: Can a peace officer stop a vehicle based on a police dispatch that is later is shown to be a mistake-of-fact in identity?
Quick answer: Yes, because information received from a police broadcast is an official communication that’s considered trustworthy.


U.S. v. Whitley — Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming), June 1, 2012

Question: Can a peace officer stop a vehicle when there has been no traffic violation and the officer is relying solely on another peace officer’s finding of suspicion?
Quick answer:  Yes, under the collective knowledge doctrine, an officer can stop a vehicle so long as another officer requesting the stop has at least reasonable suspicion that the suspect is involved in criminal activity.


U.S. v. Robbins — Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota), June 29, 2012

Question: If an officer enters the fenced-in, intimate area of a home to perform a public safety check and instead uncovers drug activity, will the drug evidence be suppressed?

Quick answer: No, as long as the intrusion onto the property is limited, is done for a legitimate purpose, and isn’t done with the intent of uncovering criminal activity.

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