Proposed Rules Would Establish Limits on Tracking Device Warrants
By Stephanie Beougher - February 7, 2014
The Ohio Supreme Court is proposing amendments to the Rules of Practice and Procedure to specifically address search warrants for tracking devices.
The current Criminal Rule 41 does not make a distinction between searching property and installing a tracking device, and the new rules would establish important limits in this area.
Delaware Municipal Court Judge David Gormley heard a concern from law enforcement about the rule's three-day limit to install the tracking device.
"You have just three days to execute a search warrant, and typically that works fine for your standard search warrant - going in to a house looking for drugs or whatever the cops might think is there. On these tracking devices, usually it's something they're attaching to the bottom of the vehicle and they aren't always able to get that attached," Judge Gormley said.
Under the proposed rule amendments, law enforcement would be given 10 days to install the tracking devices - which Judge Gormley added would bring Ohio's rule in line with a similar federal rule that has been in place since 2006.
Property search warrants would stay at the three day time limit.
The rule would also establish a new requirement that law enforcement notify the subject of the warrant within 10 days after the surveillance is complete.
"It's not lessening the standard that the law enforcement officer has to meet; it's not changing what the judge is looking for in making his or her decision about whether or not to allow this tracking device to be attached," Judge Gormley said. "It's just giving that law enforcement officer an extra few days to get the tracking device attached so that they can do it at a time and place when they feel it's safe for them to do so."
Public comment on the proposed amendments will be accepted until March 5. The Supreme Court can revise and file the amendments with the General Assembly before May 1.