Minor Misdemeanor Arrest Ohio
In State v. Jones, supra, the Ohio Supreme Court held that an arrest for a minor misdemeanor that was not made pursuant to R.C. 2935.26 was an unreasonable seizure under both the United States Constitution and the Ohio Constitution.
The Ohio Supreme Court concluded that, after balancing the interests of the state and the interests of minor misdemeanor defendants, an arrest for a minor misdemeanor that did not comply with R.C. 2935.26 was an unreasonable search and seizure.
If Jones was the last word on the subject, the decision by this court would be simple. This year, however, the United States Supreme Court decided Atwater v. Lago Vista, supra.
In Atwater the United States Supreme Court undertook the same balancing test as the Ohio Supreme Court did in Jones but reached a different conclusion. It concluded that an arrest for a minor misdemeanor did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The defendant argues that Atwater is limited to cases in which there is a state statute expressly allowing an arrest for a minor misdemeanor. Although this court understands the defendant's argument, it does not agree that Atwater is so limited.
In Atwater Justice Souter analyzed the historical basis of Mr. and Mrs. Atwater's claim that her arrest violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He concluded that historically it is unclear that the common law at the time of the adoption of the United States Constitution did not allow for warrantless arrests of what we now call minor misdemeanors.
After reaching that conclusion, he then undertook the balancing test referred to above and concluded that the interests of minor misdemeanor defendants who are arrested do not outweigh the interests of state and local governments in arresting them.
He also pointed out that it is not easy to fashion an understandable rule that would allow minor misdemeanor arrests in some situations but not others. Finally, he concluded that arrests for minor offenses are constitutional.
Indeed the opinion's holding is found in the following sentence: "If an officer has probable cause to believe that an individual has committed even a very minor criminal offense in his presence, he may, without violating the Fourth Amendment, arrest the offender." 532 U.S. at 354, 121 S. Ct. at 1557, 149 L. Ed. 2d at 577.
Nowhere did he limit the above holding to cases in which a state statute specifically allows a warrantless arrest, for a minor misdemeanor.
Since the United States Supreme Court did not so limit its holding, this court believes that it does not have the power to put such a gloss on the Atwater opinion.
Although Atwater arose under Section 1983, Title 42, U.S.Code, and Jones arose as a criminal case, this court believes that. that is a distinction without a difference.
This court believes that Atwater overrules Jones and that the defendant's arrest was not unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.