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Cleveland Criminal Law Blog

When can law enforcement legally enter your home?

Many people are under the impression that law enforcement can only enter their home with a properly executed search warrant. In reality, however, there are many situations in which law enforcement can enter your home without a warrant.

The most common means of entry into a residence is typically an invitation. The cops show up knocking on your door, needing to ask you a few questions. You, assuming the best about other people, decide to let them inside. Unfortunately, when that happens, they can generally look around and try to find a reason to continue searching your home for evidence.

How is possession of drug paraphernalia determined?

Ohioans who are arrested for drug offenses do not necessarily have to have the actual drug on them to face charges. They can also face legal issues because of the possession of drug paraphernalia. Many of the items that are used in conjunction with drugs are of the basic household variety for which there is a perfectly rational explanation for having them. Understanding how law enforcement and the courts can determine whether an item is classified as drug paraphernalia can be the key to a case and lodging a successful defense when placed under arrest.

The officer or the court will assess any statement that was made by an owner or anyone who was in control of the material, equipment or product as to how it is used. The location of the items or that act that was linked to it and whether that was a violation of the drug laws will be considered. The proximity of the item to the controlled substance will play a role. The equipment will be tested to see if there is residue of a controlled substance and a determination can be made based on that.

Cosby jury unable to reach unanimous verdict, mistrial declared

The jury trying megastar Bill Cosby on three counts of aggravated indecent assault has been unable to reach a verdict after six days of deliberations. A unanimous verdict is required in felony criminal cases.

After urging the jury on Thursday to continue deliberating after they had reached a deadlock, the judge seemed resigned on Saturday when the jury announced it was unable to continue. He declared a mistrial. The district attorney who brought the case immediately announced he plans to retry it.

Man charged with drunk driving after hit-and-run of bicyclists

Being arrested and charged with any drunk driving charges in Cleveland can lead to significant penalties. This is true even if the driver was not in an accident and found himself or herself confronted with other allegations along with drunk driving. If there is a crash, people might be hurt. It is possible that the driver will try to flee the scene. These acts can raise the charges from a DUI offense to much more. Regardless, whether it is a DUI stop and arrest or something worse, it is essential to have legal assistance to plan for a defense.

An overnight accident injured five bicyclists and the driver of the car that hit them fled the scene. The accident occurred at around 2:30 a.m. The five people were riding bicycles when a Chevrolet Impala being driven by a 27-year-old man hit them. They were knocked off their bicycles and ended up in the street. Another vehicle being driven by a female whose identity is currently unknown hit one of the bicyclists who was in the street. That driver also fled the scene.

'Circleville femme fatale' murder-for-hire conviction overturned

The conviction of the so-called "Circleville femme fatale' has been overturned by the Fourth District Court of Appeals. A Pickaway County jury convicted her last year of attempting to hire a hit man to murder the mother of her husband's children. She was sentenced to seven years in prison at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. She may be released as soon as this week.

The 34-year-old former model, now divorced, seemingly tried to hire the hit man in connection with a custody dispute. She was initially charged with trying to have both her stepchildren's mother and their stepfather killed, but was acquitted in regards to the stepfather.

Geek Squad turns gynecologic oncologist's image over to the FBI

"Geek Squad does not work for the FBI and never has," said a spokesperson for Best Buy, which owns the Geek Squad. Instead, the company says, it only turns over materials to the FBI when a crime is inadvertently discovered.

It seems the Geek Squad may not be the best resource for determining what is criminal, as one man found out when he was accused of possessing child pornography. All he had done was take his computer in for service and he found himself charged with a serious crime.

Am I guilty of federal drug possession?

If federal authorities have charged you with drug possession, it means that they suspect that you were in willful possession of a controlled illegal substance like meth, pot, cocaine, LSD, heroin or another drug.

However, just because you're facing these charges does not mean that you'll be found guilty. Your guilt will depend on the quality of evidence federal prosecutors have gathered against you, and whether prosecutors can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense.

Liberals, Tea Party: Ohio's Internet harassment law unconstitutional

A law meant to prevent online harassment and stalking may be struck down as overly broad, if a bipartisan group of political commentators has its way. The law was passed last year in response to a family's complaint that a neighbor had set up a website intentionally meant to harass, stalk and threaten them. They were told by police that nothing could be done.

The law, which went into effect last August, reads as follows:

Ohio Supreme Court: Warrantless backpack search was acceptable

The question of whether law enforcement has the right to search through people's belongings without their permission is at the core of our Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. The baseline position is that, in order for a search to be reasonable, police need a search warrant, the person's consent, or another reason that furthers a compelling government interest without being unduly burdensome to the individual.

The trouble is, situations may vary. Courts have carved out a lot of individualized rules for common situations. Without the ability to search legal cases, it can be very difficult to tell if a search of your belongings is reasonable.

Court: Cleveland's gun laws fail due to conflict with state law

The Ohio Court of Appeals has just ruled that Cleveland's 2015 ordinances meant to restrict gun violence are unconstitutional. The reason is that the Ohio Constitution, like that of the United States, holds that state laws are superior to local ones. Local laws may only augment the protections of state law and the state constitution, but local laws cannot be opposite to state laws.

When Cleveland passed the ordinances it was seeking to "increase regulations that limit discharge of weapons, increase awareness regarding the presence of weapons in school zones, promote law enforcement officer safety and most importantly...keep weapons out of the hands of children," according to court records.

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Edward R. La Rue
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