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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    4

    Default If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: OHIO

    My car was left overnight because I had got it stuck in a ditch. The next morning the alarm was going off. The officer was going thru my vehicle to determine the owner and to do an inventory of the vehicle before they had it towed. After I showed up and claimed the vehicle he continued to search and found a bowl in my console, I was charged with failure to maintain control and with possession of Paraphernalia. I was read my rights, handcuffed and the officer searched me and found a bowl on my person. My question is because I identified the vehicle was mine, there was no further reason to examine/inventory my car. I don't know how to proceed as I see this as an unlawful search.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Tacoma, WA
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    1,534

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    You may have a case or you may not. You say that you “claimed the vehicle” and identified yourself as the owner. However, the vehicle was still stuck along a public roadway. When you returned, did you have the means to remove the vehicle? If not, the police officer is still going to have to get a tow to remove the vehicle…and an inventory search is still warranted. Also, since the officer had already entered the car, perhaps he also already developed probable cause to search for contraband. Weed pipes stink, cars in which people who have smoked weed stink…and weed stink is distinctive and easily recognizable.

    You will really need to consult with an attorney who has the ability to fully examine the details of your case to get any worthwhile advice regarding challenging the search on constitutionality issues.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    It appears the officer was investigating the accident. It appears he discovered you were high and wrecked your car. Sucks to be you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    The officer informed me that had I not shown up, he would have the vehicle towed. I told him I would arrange for it. It was after this point that he continued the inventory and found the bowl. He NEVER said anything about smelling any aromas. It was also Legal Potpourri.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    98,846

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    You mean, K2? A similar synthetic?

    Your lawyer can review the police report to try to determine if the inventory search should have been terminated or if there was probable cause. You have told us that you showed up at the scene of your single vehicle accident and have implied that you told the officer "I'll have the car towed, myself," and "You can stop the search now," but you have not told us how the officer responded to your assertions. The police report will also indicate the extent to which, upon entering the vehicle to perform the inventory search, the police officer may have developed probable cause based upon the odor of the vehicle, the context (you losing control and crashing), items he had already found in the vehicle, resolving concern about possible presence of weapons before returning the vehicle to you, etc., that might have allowed him to continue even if he agreed to release the vehicle to you. The facts and the officer's interpretation of the facts are relevant to the determination of whether or not the search was proper.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    The officer told me I would need to have the vehicle towed or they would have it towed and impounded. After booking he actually drove me back to where I was staying (1 street away). The vehicle passengers side was in the ditch. I had it towed out and returned to where I was staying. I am in the process of getting the officer's sworn complaint. It is not K2, there was none in the vehicle or on my person. Does this mean that if I smoke tobacco from a pipe I can be arrested for paraphernalia, just curious.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    You are free to argue that the pipe is not drug paraphernalia. If you have ever used it to smoke illegal substances, you better hope they do not test the bowl.

    You are also lucky they had not happened upon it when you put it in the ditch because, I'm gonna go out on a limb here, I suspect you were driving while impaired the night before when you dumped it in a ditch and left it there.

    I hope that you change your habits before you kill someone!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    You are free to go to jail over K2 as it is a controlled substance in Ohio. Sorry bout yer luck.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    98,846

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    Quote Quoting Ed169
    View Post
    It is not K2, there was none in the vehicle or on my person.
    So that is "yes" to "A similar synthetic".
    Quote Quoting Ed169
    Does this mean that if I smoke tobacco from a pipe I can be arrested for paraphernalia, just curious.
    You want to smoke tobacco? Assuming you're old enough to buy it and aren't exposing them to smoke, nobody will care. Except maybe your mom, because she loves you and doesn't want you to get cancer. You want to stop by a craft center, buy actual potpourri and smoke it, nobody will care. Except maybe you - you'll probably get a horrible headache. You want to buy synthetic drugs and smoke them while you're driving such that you lose control of your car and crash? You're going to attract police attention.

    You have the right to defend against the paraphernalia charge by claiming that your synthetic drugs did not technically qualify as controlled substances, such that you were not in violation of ORC 2925.14 (assuming that's the statute you're charged with violating). The prosecutor is likely going to want to see what the crime lab finds on your paraphernalia before deciding whether to proceed.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: If a Vehicle Owner Shows Up Do the Police Have to Stop Their Inventory Search

    Thank you for the reply. I was NOT smoking anything that evening. I was in an unfamiliar rural area, my gps gave me wrong directions and when I turned around to reverse my course, I stayed to the right, unfortunately it was soft clay and the van essentially slid in the ditch (right side). There was no damage to the van.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thank you for the reply. The potpourri I had purchased is sold in multiple chains in OHIO. I had not been smoking. The packaging also listed it as being compliant with current laws.

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