When a traffic stop is initiated in Ohio or anywhere else in the country, a search of the driver’s vehicle is not automatic. Law enforcement officials must follow certain rules since protection from unlawful searches and seizures is a right guaranteed in the United States Constitution. If it is discovered that a search was not executed properly, any items discovered during that search may not be admissible in court. A District Court of Appeals in Ohio recently reiterated this constitutional protection by overturning a possession of prescription narcotics conviction.
The conviction was overturned because the officer that initiated the traffic stop was determined to be outside her jurisdiction at the time. Therefore, the officer violated Ohio law when she made the stop. As such, the oxycodone seized during a subsequent search of the man’s vehicle was not admissible in court under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. This legal theory is based upon the concept that any evidence gathered as the result of a violation of law by a law enforcement official is inadmissible in court.
The conviction was overturned despite the fact that the driver pleaded no contest to the possession charge and received a three-year prison sentence. That was in 2011. He has already served a significant portion of his sentence, but that does not diminish the importance of the appeals court ruling.
The reversal of this man’s possession of prescription narcotics conviction illustrates the importance of reviewing every aspect of something as simple as a traffic stop. If proper procedures were not followed or an officer was outside his or her jurisdiction, anything found in a search of a driver’s vehicle may be ruled inadmissible in court. Courts take violations of a person’s constitutional rights seriously, as they should, and anyone accused of a crime in Ohio has every right to ensure their rights are fully protected at every stage of a criminal proceeding.
Source: beaumontenterprise.com, Ohio court reverses traffic-stop drug conviction, No author, Dec. 10, 2013