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State v. Young

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

January 18, 2018


         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-609189-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Allison S. Breneman

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Kelly N. Mason Assistant County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Stewart, P.J., Boyle, J., and Laster Mays, J.



         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Clinton M. Young, III appeals the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress a firearm and several baggies of marijuana and pills police discovered after placing him under arrest. Upon review, we overrule his sole assigned error and affirm.

         {¶2} The record developed at the suppression hearing reveals that one evening, a Parma Heights resident called 911 to report two males breaking glass in an intersection. The caller stated that the suspects were heading south on Edgehill Drive towards the intersection where Edgehill merges into Pearl Road, and that one of them was on a bicycle. Two police officers, in separate patrol cars, responded to the scene.

         {¶3} The officers arrived to the vicinity within minutes of being dispatched. The first officer came upon Young, who was riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, heading south on Pearl Road near Edgehill Drive. He relayed this information to the second officer and continued to search for additional suspects. The second officer saw Young on his bicycle, immediately turned his cruiser around, and activated his lights. Young stopped. The other officer arrived shortly thereafter and they questioned Young about what he was doing and if he knew about the broken glass. They asked Young if they could see his identification and Young complied. The officers ran Young's information through dispatch and were alerted to the fact that Young had an active warrant. After arresting Young, police discovered the firearm and contraband. Young moved to suppress the items arguing that the police did not have a right to stop him. The trial court denied his motion.

         {¶4} "Appellate review of a motion to suppress presents a mixed question of law and fact." State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d 71, ¶ 8. Because the trial court is in the best position to resolve issues of fact, we defer to its findings, so long as they are supported by competent, credible evidence. Id. Accepting those facts as true, and without deference to the trial court, we independently determine whether those facts satisfy the applicable legal standard. Id

         {¶5} The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits warrantless searches and seizures as per se unreasonable, subject to a few exceptions. Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967). Any evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment may not then be used by the state against an accused at trial. Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 655, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081 (1961). An investigatory stop is considered a "seizure" within the context of the Fourth Amendment when a person is detained, to the extent that a reasonable person would not feel free to leave. State v. Raine, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 90681, 2008-Ohio-5993, ¶ 18, citing United States v. Montgomery, 377 F.3d 582, 587-588 (6th Cir.2004).

         {¶6} An investigative or "Terry" stop, where an officer briefly detains a person based on a reasonable suspicion that the person may be involved in criminal activity, is one exception to the general prohibition to warrantless searches and seizures. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). Such stops, when predicated on reasonable suspicion and conducted for investigative purposes, do not run afoul of the Constitution. Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court, 542 U.S. 177, 185, 124 S.Ct. 2451, 159 L.Ed.2d 292 (2004). Reasonable suspicion may be based on information that is less reliable than what is required to establish probable cause. Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990). However, it requires "at least a minimal level of objective justification." Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 121, 120 S.Ct. 673, 145 L.Ed.2d 570 (2000).

         {¶7} A Terry stop is valid where the officer's reasonable suspicion is based on specific and articulable facts that the individual in question is, was, or soon will be engaged in criminal activity. State v. Arafat, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 102662, 2016-Ohio-385, ¶ 20. During the stop, police "may ask the detainee a moderate number of questions to determine his identity * * *." Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 439, 104 S.Ct. 3138, 82 L.Ed.2d 317 (1984). The detainee, however, is under no obligation to respond. Id. And if the detainee's answers do not give the officer probable cause to arrest him, then the police must release him. Id. at 439-440.

         {¶8} Consensual encounters with the police are not subject to Fourth Amendment protections. State v. White, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 92229, 2009-Ohio-5557, ¶ 9. During a consensual encounter, police officers need not articulate any reasonable suspicion. Id. They may engage in conversation, ask questions, and check identification. Id. "'A person is seized within the contemplation of the Fourth Amendment only if, in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave.'" State v. Miller, 148 Ohio App.3d 103, 2002-Ohio-2389, 772 N.E.2d 175, ¶ 18 (8th Dist), quoting State v. Bussey, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 75301, 1999 Ohio App. LEXIS 5707, 4 (Dec. 2, 1999). Where a person does not attempt to leave, a seizure may still be implicated by the presence of multiple officers, drawn weapons, physical touching, or language and tone indicating that compliance is required. See United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554, 100 S.Ct. 1870, 64 L.Ed.2d 497 (1980).

         {¶9} Young argues that the officers' request for his identification was unnecessary to their investigation of the broken glass and was only done as a means of checking for warrants. He argues that he could not, and did not, voluntarily provide his identification to the police because at the point the officers ...

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