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Ohio drug charges: New law focuses on hidden compartments

A new Ohio law related to the drug and gun trade was recently used for the first time since it was passed last year. A driver was pulled over for following too closely and speeding. By the time the traffic stop was over, the man was arrested. Authorities wanted to arrest him on drug charges, but the only charge they could use was the fact that a hidden compartment was allegedly in the vehicle he was driving, which is illegal under this new law.

When the driver was pulled over, Ohio State troopers claim they detected an order they identified as being raw marijuana. They apparently used this smell as the probable cause for searching the vehicle. Reportedly, it was then they found some wiring they considered suspicious.

Further investigation is said to have revealed an empty hidden compartment behind the back seats. Troopers apparently believed they had stopped the man after delivering drugs stashed in the compartment or before he made his way to a location to get the drugs. Troopers claim they found evidence that drugs had been transported in the vehicle before, but they were not able to identify what kind of drugs may have been carried in the compartment, if any. Reports failed to indicate whether authorities have evidence the driver owns the vehicle or knew about the hidden compartment.

Since this is the first time the law has been used in lieu of drug charges, a number of facts will need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt before the driver can be convicted of this so-called "hidden compartment" crime. Fortunately, the accused individual presumed innocent until and unless proved guilty. A thorough review of this new law and the procedures employed by the troopers in conducting their search could prove useful in preparing a defense.

Source: news-herald.com, First hidden compartment arrest made in Northeast Ohio, Jon Behm, Nov. 22, 2013

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