Minor Misdemeanors


Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook

Reproduced with permission from:
Timothy E. Pierce and the Franklin County Public Defender Office
State v. Waters, 181 Ohio App. 3d 424, 2009-Ohio-1338 – Police responding to the report of an engine being revved found four drunks in a garage on private property. While all were voluntarily intoxicated, they did not pose a sufficient to themselves or others. Dissent as to the individual who vomited in the presence of the officers, but was taken to the jail, not the hospital. Defendants pled no contest to disorderly conduct and other charges after motion to suppress was overruled. Issue was presented both in terms of probable cause for arrest and sufficiency.
State v. Graves, 173 Ohio App. 3d 526, 2007-Ohio-4904 – Informant reported someone matching the defendant‘s description had a large bag of marijuana. Officers approached the defendant, who was standing outside the informant‘s apartment. He was highly intoxicated and placed under arrest for disorderly conduct. The marijuana was found in the search incident to arrest. Motion to suppress should have been granted. The focus of the disorderly ordinance is not intoxication but the subject‘s conduct while intoxicated. Here the defendant was not a nuisance and had not placed himself at risk.
State v. Jones (2000), 88 Ohio St. 3d 430 -- Unlawful arrest for a minor misdemeanor is both a statutory and constitutional violation. Syllabus: "Absent one or more of the exceptions specified in R.C. 2935.26, a full custodial arrest for a minor misdemeanor offense violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 14, Article I of the Ohio Constitution, and evidence obtained incident to such an arrest is subject to suppression in accordance with the exclusionary rule." Also see State v. Slatter (1981), 66 Ohio St. 2d 452. Compare Atwater v. City of Lago Vista (2001), 121 S.Ct. 1536; State v. Wilkenson 118 Ohio Misc. 2d 10, 2001-Ohio-4354.
State v. Brown, 99 Ohio St. 3d 323, 2003-Ohio-3931 -- Syllabus: "Section 14, Article I of the Ohio Constitution provides greater protection than the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution against warrantless arrests for minor misdemeanors. (State v. Jones [2000], 88 Ohio St. 3d 430, 727 N.E. 2d 886, followed in part and modified in part.)"
State v. Dubose, 164 Ohio App. 3d 698, 2005-Ohio-6602 -- Defendant handed a Scotchguard can to his girlfriend whom he had asked to bring proof of insurance to the location where he had been stopped for having a cracked windshield. Officer took the can, unscrewed the base, and found an F-1 quantity of heroin. The minor misdemeanor unsafe vehicle charge would not have warranted an arrest, so the search cannot be validated as incident to arrest. Nor did the defendant abandon the property by handing it over.
State v. Satterwhite (1997), 123 Ohio App. 3d 322 -- Defendant was arrested for the citable minor misdemeanor of jaywalking, because he had no ID. Drugs in his possession and his subsequent statement were properly suppressed. Officer should have used the computer in her car to check name and SSN, as she did after the arrest. Officer could also have questioned defendant's companion about his identity.
Blanchester v. Hester (1992), 81 Ohio App. 3d 815 -- Minor traffic offense did not left warrantless entrance to defendant's home. Resulting disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges dismissed as fruit of the poisonous tree. However, the traffic charges should not have been dismissed.
State v. Price (1999), 134 Ohio App. 3d 464 -- Loud music amounting to a minor misdemeanor under a municipal ordinance did not amount to exigent circumstances justifying warrantless entry of appellant's residence.
State v. Robinson (1995), 103 Ohio App. 3d 490 -- When apartment door was opened, police smelled burning marijuana. As they were forcing their way in, the defendant called for another occupant to "get rid of the shit." Court finds search of premises not justified as incident to arrest. (1) Burning marijuana gave probable cause only for issuance of citation for minor misdemeanor drug abuse. If there is no arrest, there may not be a search incident to arrest. (2) As to possible obstructing official business charge, unlawful entry meant officers were not acting "in the performance of their lawful duties."
State v. Kesler (1996), 111 Ohio App. 3d 98 -- Officers responding to a disturbance call looked into apartment through screen door and saw the defendant holding a plate containing what one officer thought might be marijuana. At p. 103: "...(T)here was no compelling reason to left the failure of law enforcement officers to place the matter before a detached and neutral judicial officer who could properly assess whether the officers had probable cause to obtain a valid warrant prior to entering appellant's home and searching and arresting him for what amounted to a minor misdemeanor offense."
State v. Thompson (1996), 116 Ohio App. 3d 740 -- Defendant may have had an open container, a minor misdemeanor, but refused officers' demand he go with them to their cruiser to be checked on the computer. Being placed in the cruiser amounted to arrest. Minor misdemeanors are not arrestable offenses if suspect offers adequate evidence of identity. Arrest was not lawful. Resisting conviction reversed.
State v. Peay (1991), 62 Ohio Misc. 2d 92 -- Though deputy had information that the defendant sold drugs and owned a gun, the reason for stopping his truck was two minor misdemeanor citations. Since the defendant had a right not to be arrested, the search of his vehicle was illegal.
State v. Harkness (1991), 75 Ohio App. 3d 7 -- Bond set in an amount in excess of the maximum fine for disorderly conduct, as a minor misdemeanor, is unlawful.
State v. Ellison, 148 Ohio App. 3d 270, 2002-Ohio-2919 -- Arrest for a minor misdemeanor not justified by failure to provide satisfactory identification. Subject did not have ID, but provided an address, Social Security number, date of birth and information about prior contacts with the police, most of which were verified. Officer's suspicion about identity were not objectively reasonable.
State v. Gasnik (1998), 132 Ohio App. 3d 612 -- Charge was amended from an M-4 to a minor misdemeanor carrying a lower time limit within which trial must commence. Time limit becomes the earlier date between the time limit applicable to the original charge, or the time limit for the reduced charge, running from the date of amendment.
State v. King (1996), 114 Ohio App. 3d 669 -- Sua sponte continuance of the trial of a minor misdemeanor at 4:55 on a Friday found reasonable.
University Heights v. Dachman (1984), 20 Ohio App. 3d 26 -- Time tolled for period needed to rule on jury demand in minor misdemeanor dog feces case.
State v. Hammer (1992), 82 Ohio App. 3d 663, 666 -- Trial court did not err in having minor misdemeanor traffic charges tried to the same jury hearing a related vehicular homicide charge.
State v. Coyle (1984), 14 Ohio App. 3d 185 -- Though a minor misdemeanor had been set for jury trial along with a more serious offense, once the more serious charge was dropped, any right to jury trial on the minor misdemeanor was extinguished.
State v. Cordle (January 8, 1985), Franklin Co. App. No. 84AP-484, unreported (1985 Opinions 29) -- When a minor misdemeanor is tried to the bench at the same time more serious charges are tried to the jury, the doctrine of res judicata bars the judge from convicting the defendant when acquittal by the jury means a common element has been resolved in the defendant's favor. Also see State v. Armstrong (July 16, 1991), Franklin Co. App. No. 90AP-690 (1991 Opinions 3262); State v. Capaniro (March 21, 1995), Franklin Co. App. No. 94APC09-1377, unreported (1995 Opinions 1129); Beacon Theaters v. Westover (1959), 359 U.S. 500.
State v. Powers (1996), 117 Ohio App. 3d 124 -- Costs may be imposed as a part of sentence only if the state is successful. Where the jury acquitted the defendant of assault and menacing, but the court found him guilty of a minor misdemeanor traffic charge, costs could not include jury fees or other costs incurred as a result of the jury trial.
Eastlake v. Kosec (1985), 29 Ohio App. 3d 259 -- Where the defendant was convicted of only a minor misdemeanor, court lacked authority to order restitution and/or invoke probation in order to force payment to Humane Society.
State v. Brown, 163 Ohio App. 3d 222, 2005-Ohio-4590 -- Defendant charged with a minor misdemeanor traffic offense appeared on the date of trial and asked for a continuance so retained counsel could appear. This was denied, based on concern the state's witnesses might not return. Time was allowed for counsel and defense witnesses to appear at a later date. Reversed. The right to counsel is more important than efficient administration of criminal justice.
Cleveland Heights v. Wood (1995), 107 Ohio App. 3d 616 -- Municipal ordinance elevating minor misdemeanor speeding under the Revised Code to a fourth degree misdemeanor held to be within the municipality's home rule authority and not in conflict with general laws under Article XVIII, Section 3 of the Ohio Constitution.
State v. Jones (1993), 90 Ohio App. 3d 456 -- Defendant was convicted of possession of an open container of beer, a minor misdemeanor, and his $10,000 pickup was ordered forfeited. Forfeiture under a bootlegging statute, R.C. 4301.45 was precluded as a minor misdemeanor is not an arrestable offense. Forfeiture under R.C. 2933.41(C) was not possible as the defendant's possession of the truck was lawful.
State v. Weitbrecht (1999), 86 Ohio St. 3d 368 -- Syllabus: "R.C. 2903.04(B) [involuntary manslaughter], as applied to a minor misdemeanor traffic offense which results in a vehicular homicide, does not violate the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 9, Article I of the Ohio Constitution." Also see State v. Manhart (1999), 135 Ohio App. 3d 499, which also rejects an equal protection claim. Compare State v. Campbell (1997), 117 Ohio App. 3d 762.

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Published by Timothy E. Pierce
Copyright © Franklin County Public Defender and Timothy E. Pierce, 2015
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