Ohio Constitution Affords Citizens Greater Protection Against Unreasonable Search and Seizure Than Fourth Amendment

By HSK, June 23, 2015

Historically the Ohio Constitution has been interpreted as affording Ohio citizens protection against infringement of their rights in a manner equivalent to that afforded by the U.S. Constitution. But in State v. Brown, 2015-Ohio-2438, decided June 23, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court held that Art. I, Sec. 14 of the Ohio Constitution affords greater protection against unreasonable search and seizure than the Fourth Amendment.


The case centered around the authority of a township police officer in a township with a population of less than 50,000 to stop a driver on an interstate highway for a marked lanes violation. The authority of township officers is specifically limited by the Ohio Revised Code and, pertinent to the case, it does not give an officer authority to enforce such offenses as speeding, marked lane violations, and use of turn signals on an interstate highway. The wrinkle in the case is that the Fourth Amendment has been held to not be violated when an officer acts outside of their statutory jurisdiction as long as the person was stopped pursuant to probable cause that an offense was committed.


The Ohio Supreme Court held the Ohio Constitution goes farther than the Fourth Amendment and is violated when a traffic stop is made by an officer outside of the limits of their statutory jurisdiction and authority. The Court’s decision is specific to minor misdemeanor traffic offenses and not instances where a more serious crime may have been committed. But it appears to be a decision that will cause future debate as the parameters of the Court’s decision regarding Art. I, Sec. 14 are tested.

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