On November 4, 2014 considering an illegal arrest warrant in State v. Hoffman, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Toledo Municipal Court used an illegal process for issuing arrest warrants, justified by an older ruling from the Tenth district court of appeals (Franklin County). For 17 years, the Toledo municipal court defied the U.S. and Ohio constitutions by issuing warrants without finding probable cause. The same procedure has been used in the Franklin County Municipal Court until this week.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that no warrants shall be issued only upon probable cause. A similar provision is found in Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution. Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure state that only a judge, magistrate, clerk of court, or court officer may issue arrest warrants.
Justice Lanzinger stated “In addition, police officers, peace officers, sheriffs, and all those in law enforcement can no longer rely in good faith on any warrant issued by the Toledo Municipal Court without a neutral and detached magistrate making an independent determination of probable cause. Today’s decision should be a catalyst for that court to seek new, constitutionally conforming warrants and will provide notice that any warrants that are similarly constitutionally defective can no longer be relied on or acted upon.” The same ruling will be applicable to a Franklin County Municipal Court Illegal Arrest Warrant.
“Members of law enforcement cannot in good faith rely on any warrant issued by the Toledo Municipal Court absent an independent determination of probable cause from a neutral and detached magistrate,” wrote Justice O'Donnell. “New and constitutionally conforming warrants must be obtained in order to conform with the Fourth Amendment, and the outstanding defective warrants can no longer be relied on or acted upon.”
"The police did not have reason to think that the requests for warrants included a basis for finding probable cause, so they could not in good faith believe the warrants were valid," Justice Pfeifer stated in dissent. Justice Pfeifer would have ruled the evidence in this case should be excluded.
“Toledo police have been relying on this flagrantly unconstitutional procedure for years now,” he said. “A forceful message needs to be sent to deter similar misconduct, and suppression in this case would send that message.”
For the foregoing reasons, many or all arrest warrants issued by the Franklin County Municipal Court may be illegal and now subject to constitutional challenge, enabling you to fight an illegal arrest.
If you want to challenge your illegal arrest warrant issued by the Franklin County Municipal Court, please give us a call immediately at 614-263-5297 (LAWS).