Welcome to The Briefcase

Commentary and analysis of Ohio criminal law and whatever else comes to mind, served with a dash of snark.  Continue Reading »

×

Standing in search & seizure

The police see a bunch of guys engaged in activities consistent with selling drugs, round them up, and find a set of car keys on the ground.  They ask who the keys belong to; nobody fesses up.  They use them to open a nearby car, and find drugs and a number of personal items belonging to one of the suspects.  Can the suspect argue that the search was illegal?

Nope, says the 8th District last week in State v. Middleton.  Whether the search was proper under the 4th Amendment is actually immaterial, because the defendant, by denying that the property was his, lacked standing to assert the search's illegality.  Actually, there's a long line of decisions which support that result, and there's a good review of them in this 2004 11th District decision.  The general rule is that one who denies possession of property has, in essence, abandoned it, and lacks the possessory interest sufficient to invoke 4th Amendment protection.

There's one notable exception to that:  where the denial is basically compelled by the officer's prior search of the item.  It's difficult to expect a person to admit to ownership of property that's going to wind up getting him arrested.  This US 10th Circuit decision is a good one to have on that score. 

By the way, in light of my comment on Monday on your suggestions about this site, if one of them was "have shorter posts," you'll get your wish this week.  I've got a lot of stuff going on, and so it'll be short and sweet.  Well, sweet we're not sure, but short, definitely.

Search

Recent Entries

  • June 28, 2017
    Plea Bargaining -- The defendant's view
    A look at the Supreme Court's decision last week in Lee v. United States
  • June 27, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    A worrisome decision on expert funding, and, mirabile dictu, a court's dismissal of a case for a discovery violation is upheld
  • June 23, 2017
    Crime and the First Amendment
    Facebook and sex offenders, and encouraging someone to kill himself
  • June 20, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    I come a cropper, plus inventory searches and mandatory probation
  • June 19, 2017
    Case Update - SCOTUS
    What's coming up in the US Supreme Court in the next two weeks
  • June 12, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    After weeks in the desert, we come upon an oasis of defense wins
  • June 7, 2017
    A switch in time
    Why what the Supreme Court did in Aalim II and Gonzales II is a bad thing
  • June 6, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    A turnabout on prior calculation and design, and harmless error in all its manifestations
  • June 5, 2017
    Case Update
    A death penalty case, fourteen years after the crime, and we're just getting started. And two appellate decisions on search and seizure.
  • May 31, 2017
    What's Up in the 8th
    "What's a law enforcement accountability activist?" asked someone never, but the answer is here. Plus, cell phone experts, joinder, and the fading glory that was State v. Hand.