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In re A.T.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

July 25, 2018

IN RE: A.T.

          Appeals From: Hamilton County Juvenile Court TRIAL NOS. 15-007432Z, 15-007433Z, 15-007434Z

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Alex Scott Havlin, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee,

          Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and Julie Kahrs Nessler, Assistant Public Defender, for Appellant.

          OPINION

          MILLER, JUDGE

         {¶1} Following a bench trial before a magistrate, A.T. was adjudicated delinquent for committing acts that, had he been an adult, would have constituted misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and felonious possession of heroin. A.T. claims that the juvenile court's delinquency findings were in error. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} On October 5, 2015, Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Bradley Hess stopped a car traveling 62 m.p.h. where the posted speed limit was 35 m.p.h. While informing the driver that he would receive a speeding ticket, Trooper Hess detected the odor of raw marijuana in the car. He returned to his patrol car to radio for backup so that he could safely remove the driver and two passengers to search the vehicle. A.T. was the front-seat passenger.

         {¶3} Approximately 20 minutes after the initial stop, two additional troopers arrived. Trooper Hess ordered the driver out of the car, searched him and placed him in his patrol car. Upon questioning, the driver reluctantly admitted that there was a marijuana cigar in the car. Next, Trooper Hess searched A.T., emptying AT.'s pockets and discovering both a digital scale and an envelope containing a heroin gravel. AT. was informed he was under arrest and was placed in Hess's patrol car. After the second passenger was also placed in the patrol car, the other troopers searched the vehicle. A marijuana cigar was found under the front-passenger seat, where AT. had been seated.

         {¶4} AT. filed a motion to suppress the evidence discovered in the search of his person. The magistrate denied the motion and proceeded to a bench trial, where AT. was adjudicated delinquent. Over AT.'s objections, the juvenile court adopted the magistrate's decisions on the motion to suppress and the adjudication. A.T. now appeals.

         Analysis

         {¶5} In two assignments of error, A.T. claims that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. In his first assignment of error, A.T. claims that the search of his person was unlawful. He argues that because there was no testimony at the suppression hearing that Trooper Hess was qualified to recognize the odor of marijuana, Trooper Hess could not have had probable cause to search the vehicle. A.T. also asserts that even if Trooper Hess was qualified to recognize the odor of marijuana and had probable cause to search the vehicle, there was no testimony that the odor emanated from AT., so AT. should not have been searched.

         {¶6} In his second assignment of error, AT. claims that the duration of the traffic stop exceeded constitutional limits. AT. argues that Trooper Hess violated his Fourth Amendment rights when he prolonged the stop beyond the time necessary to issue the speeding ticket. Thus, any evidence obtained as a result of the stop should have been suppressed.

         Standard of Review

         {¶7} Appellate review of a motion to suppress presents a mixed question of law and fact. An appellate court must accept the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by competent, credible evidence. State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d 71, ΒΆ 8. Accepting these facts as true, the appellate court ...


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