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Driver Arrested In Ohio For Secret Car Compartment Full of Nothing 670

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the compartment-actually-intended-for-dead-bodies dept.
schwit1 writes about the hazards of driving through Ohio in a car with a secret compartment in the trunk. From the article: "Norman Gurley, 30, is facing drug-related charges in Lorain County, Ohio, despite the fact that state troopers did not actually find any drugs in his possession. Ohio passed a law in 2012 making it a felony to alter a vehicle to add a secret compartment with the 'intent' of using it to conceal drugs for trafficking." This is the first person arrested under the strange law.
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Driver Arrested In Ohio For Secret Car Compartment Full of Nothing

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  • by EvilSS (557649) on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:13PM (#45521429)
    I know Florida has had a law on the books like this for a while and I'm sure other states do as well. I get why they think they need it but it's a serious abuse of our individual rights as it essentially makes it so you are assumed guilty.
  • by shaitand (626655) on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:14PM (#45521445) Journal
    Or is this another one of those BS laws where they bypass due process by stating in the law that "such and such" conditions are sufficient to establish it?
  • by hurwak-feg (2955853) on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:16PM (#45521463)
    How do the LEOs know what someone's intention is? I could argue it is to store sensitive work material or items sought after by thieves. What is wrong with putting drugs in there? I have a prescription for Oxycodone before. There are plenty of junkies that would love to get their hands on that. So does this mean police can arrest someone because they think they might have intentions of doing something illegal? Are they going to compensate people for their time and legal fees for arrest based on nothing more than speculation? This is insane. I will admit I didn't RTFA.
  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:18PM (#45521491)

    If it keeps us safe from terrorists, drugs, child molesters, or other Bad Things, anything is okay. Sacrifice all of your freedoms to stop the Bad Things and just be thankful you're living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  • Encryption is next (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nytes (231372) on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:25PM (#45521569) Homepage

    So, next up: A law that makes it a felony for using encryption to conceal evidence of terrorism.

    Now they can nail you just for using encryption with your email.

  • by weilawei (897823) on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:27PM (#45521593) Homepage

    "We apparently caught them between runs, so to speak, so this takes away one tool they have in their illegal trade. The law does help us and is on our side," says Combs.

    Apparently? So, you own a house, and your wife was away for a week. I'm going to slander and libel you for being an adulterer, even if I verified that you didn't have anyone in the house for a week, because you were apparently between mistresses. What a cock-up and an abuse of the legal system.

    The law says it’s only a crime if the hidden compartment is added with the “intent” to conceal drugs, but it also outlaws anybody who has been convicted of felony aggravated drug trafficking laws from operating any vehicle with hidden compartments.

    Can anyone find the arrest record/docket and figure out exactly how they alleged intent, or that he was formerly convicted of felony aggravated drug trafficking laws? Otherwise, this looks like a money grab to me.

    As for the car itself, the Institute for Justice’s 2010 “Policing for Profit” report calculated that law enforcement officials in the state have collected more than $80 million in shared proceeds from asset forfeiture funds. Oh, and the hidden compartment law exempts vehicles being operated by law enforcement officers, so if state troopers can come up with an excuse to use the ride they just grabbed, they may be able to keep it for themselves.

  • by Eggplant62 (120514) on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:31PM (#45521629)

    I don't see how they prove intent here. Empty container -- I could store guns, money, drugs, or *any other valuable item* I don't want exposed and out there for someone to heist by smashing the glass in the vehicle. I don't suppose I have a right to secure my property in any way I see fit? Intent is missing here and the prosecutor is going to have to stretch the truth quite a bit to prove his case.

  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:45PM (#45521759) Homepage

    The summary is somewhat misleading. Per the linked law:

    To enact section 2923.241 of the Revised Code to prohibit designing, building, constructing, fabricating, modifying, or altering a vehicle to create or add a hidden compartment with the intent to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance, prohibit operating, possessing, or using a vehicle with a hidden compartment with knowledge that the hidden compartment is used or intended to be used to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance, and prohibit a person who has committed a first or second degree felony violation of aggravated trafficking in drugs from operating, possessing, or using a vehicle with a hidden compartment.

    His intent is irrelevant due to his prior felony conviction. That is what has him in trouble. I imagine the 'intent' clause is mostly for people found with actual drugs or weapons stored in the compartment, in which case their intent is obvious.

  • by ewieling (90662) <(user) (at) (devnull.net)> on Monday November 25, 2013 @08:55PM (#45521847)
    Nobody buys in bulk for a discount anymore?
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:00PM (#45521889) Journal

    and prohibit a person who has committed a first or second degree felony violation of aggravated trafficking in drugs from operating, possessing, or using a vehicle with a hidden compartment.

    So the jury get to hear about prior convictions before deciding on the accused person's guilt. Neat!

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:01PM (#45521897)
    So did he. It was full of nothing.
  • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:01PM (#45521903)

    No, this is an example of a bad Slashdot summary filled with hyperbole. Intent is only mentioned in the law where it relates to building or installing the compartment. These aren't simple boxes hidden under a panel. They're complicated electronic and/or hydrolic devices that require multiple steps to open (turn the wheel all the way to the left, unlock the right side door, recline the seat back and then turn the wipers on once, all in proper sequence). That part of the law was meant to go after the people behind the devices.

    This guy would have been picked up based on the sections that forbid him as a prior felon (not clear if he is or not) or if they detected drug residue in the compartment (which the law specifically mentions as a condition for violation). So if he has a clean drug record, no link to building or installing the compartment, and there was no drug residue in the hidden compartment, then his lawyer should have a pretty easy case for defense.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:10PM (#45521975)

    then his lawyer should have a pretty easy case for defense

    A few years wondering whether you're going up the river (when did the right to a speedy trial become a joke?), the choice between rolling the dice on a trial and accepting a plea bargain even if you did nothing, a few tens of thousands in legal fees, and you're off Scot free. What a reasonable application of an utterly absurd law.

  • by slick7 (1703596) on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:53PM (#45522279)

    I know Florida has had a law on the books like this for a while and I'm sure other states do as well. I get why they think they need it but it's a serious abuse of our individual rights as it essentially makes it so you are assumed guilty.

    According to the government, you are guilty, you just do not know it yet. The NDAA, the PATRIOT ACT, the changes to the Miranda laws etc, proves you are guilty even before you are arrested, tried and found guilty. The paranoia of a corrupt government justifies any and all actions the Constitution prohibits. The law makers are above the law, the law enforcers are above the law and the law deciders are above the law, therefore you are guilty.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:21PM (#45522481)

    Ask the little old lady in Florida who lost her life savings years ago because the thieving government passed a law that says if you have over x amount of cash then you must be a drug dealer. Her family had lost everything during the famous bank collapse and she of course didn't trust banks. They let her out of jail acknowledging she wasn't a drug dealer but AFAIK she never got her money back. She was far from being the only one robbed by the USA Protection Racket.

  • by Dereck1701 (1922824) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:25PM (#45522497)

    And how do we know the officers smelled anything? A five minute internet search can come up with case after case where officers claimed one thing (including writing it up in police reports, testifying in court, etc) and later video evidence proved they were telling bold faced lies (Hollywood Florida Framing, BART shooting, OWS protests, Michael Dehererra Beating, Rodney King, Danziger Bridge shootings, etc), oh I'm sorry they "misremembered" the incident. When an independent lab confirms traces of drugs I'll believe it, Until then I personally don't consider an officers statements to carry any more weight than the suspects.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:29PM (#45522527) Homepage

    The driver has only been arrested and charged, not convicted.

    Too bad the driver still has to pay a lawyer and fight the charge. His arrest record has now been sent out to a 100 background check databases and that he'll have to go through, one at a time, to get it cleared off if he wins. He probably had to post a bond to get out of jail.

    Whew, lucky him they haven't proven intent.

  • by Demonantis (1340557) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:47PM (#45522645)
    It would not. The compartment is not being used for drugs. That seems to be what everyone is glazing over. Where I live it is perfectly legal to enter someones home unless you intend to commit a crime so you can save someone shouting for help. You can own lock picks unless you intend to use them to commit a crime. Same thing with masks. You are allowed to have a compartment unless you plan to use it for drugs.
  • by Behrooz (302401) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:05PM (#45522757)

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

    No, legal fees are not 'taken care of if you win'. The system doesn't care if you are innocent, the system cares about the system, and obviously anyone who ends up in court has to be a scumbag, right?

      For criminal defense cases, you may choose to be represented without charge by an overworked, underfunded public defender who has every interest in resolving your case as quickly as possible via plea-bargaining... regardless of guilt or innocence.

    Or you may hire an attorney who is actually being paid to represent your interests, where the cheapest option available is typically in excess of a thousand dollars, substantially more for serious charges or if the case actually goes to a jury trial.

    The vast majority of defendants in the American legal system do not have the financial resources to hire an attorney, which is why the vast majority of all criminal charges are settled by plea bargain. Prosecutors have every incentive to pile on the threat of every imaginable charge and use the uncertainty of the outcome of a trial as leverage to coerce a plea bargain, guilty or not, because it works, and because they are almost never held responsible for their unethical conduct even when they commit egregious acts like concealing evidence that would exonerate the accused. [yalelawjournal.org]

    Add in unconscionable levels of police malfeasance and corruption on nearly every level, and the result is a criminal justice system that is anything but just. Unless you've got plenty of money. Which is kind of the point.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:47PM (#45522957) Homepage Journal

    Or do you believe that all slates are cleaned after jail time is finished?

    Only in civilized countries.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @01:32AM (#45523545) Journal

    > It would not. The compartment is not being used for drugs. That seems to be what everyone is glazing over.

    As someone else pointed out, the law reads in part ""No person shall knowingly operate, possess, or use a vehicle with a hidden compartment with knowledge that the hidden compartment is used or intended to be used to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance." (Emphasis mine.) How does one gauge the intention of such a compartment?

  • by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @05:26AM (#45524473) Homepage
    Depends where you are I suppose. Are you black and look like you have too much money for someone of 'your kind'? Then you're probably concealing drugs. An upstanding white congressman *cough* *cough*? Carry on about your day sir, sorry to inconvenience you.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @08:06AM (#45525189)
    That's not good either. Just because you don't like someone's perfectly legal job is no excuse to make them an outlaw that the State can just steal from without consequence. A government agency should have to show beyond reasonable doubt that money is proceeds of crime before taking it away like that.

It's a naive, domestic operating system without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

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