What Are the Consequences of a Mistake of Law by a Police Officer ?

In State v. Silcott, 1999 Ohio App (Nov. 5, 1999), Montgomery App. 17679, unreported, 1999 WL 1000072, the Second Appellate District also addressed this issue. In that case a delinquent traffic fine was paid, and the warrant for defendant's arrest was withdrawn and removed from the court's records. However, that employee failed to remove the arrest warrant from the records of the police department. The court of appeals found that the arrest was not unreasonable and that the officer had reasonably relied on the information. The Second Appellate District addressed the issue of a mistake by a police officer in State v. Greer (1996), 114 Ohio App. 3d 299, 683 N.E.2d 82. The Greer case involved a mistake in law by the police officer. Defendant Greer was stopped and charged with a DUI. The underlying conduct of the defendant that was the basis for the original stop was found not to be a violation of law by the trial court and the court of appeals. Although the court indicated that a mistake of law by an officer must be closely scrutinized, the court found that a narrow exception existed to exclusion when the mistake of law was reasonable. The court also noted that an investigative stop was involved and an investigative stop represents significantly less intrusion upon the individual's liberty. Id. at 304, 683 N.E.2d at 86, citing Terry v. Ohio (1968), 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889. See, also, State v. Brandenburg (1987), 41 Ohio App. 3d 109, 534 N.E.2d 906.