In a decision today, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of a man whose constitutional rights were violated in a warrantless search of a car. They decided that an arrest of an occupant of a legally parked vehicle does not provide sufficient and justified merit to impound the vehicle and allow for a warrantless search. It is in violation of the man’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Justice William M. O’Neill authored the opinion stating that the warrantless search of the defendant’s vehicle was unlawful. The decision also included the lack of authority from police to impound the vehicle lawfully, thus making the subsequent inventory search unlawful.
The case involving Quayshaun Leak went to the Fifth District Court of Appeals first where the search was found reasonable. The final ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court, however, reverses that decision, as well as grants the defendant’s motion to suppress the gun as evidence and vacates his weapons convictions.
In order for a search incident to an arrest to be lawful, the officer must search the vehicle when the occupant has been arrested and if unsecured within reaching distance of the vehicle. The search may also take place should the officer have reasonable belief that the vehicle contains evidence of the crime. In Leak’s case, the judge found that the arresting officer did not obtain the warrant and had no idea of the involvement of the vehicle in the charges leading to the arrest.
At Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, we firmly believe that everyone’s constitutional rights should be upheld. If your rights have been violated, our Columbus criminal defense attorneys may be able to help you. Our goal is to guide our clients through the process so we can defend their rights at every step of the process. Call today and learn how our firm can help defend you from the charges you face.