A seemingly innocent post can result in criminal charges.

A seemingly innocent post can result in criminal charges.

If you’ve spent any time on social media, it’s likely that you read abusive and oftentimes offensive statements posted or left as comments. Most people are under the assumption the things said online are without repercussions. However, that may not be the case.

Perhaps you remember hearing about Justin Olsen, an 18-year-old Ohio man who was arrested last year on federal charges after investigators claimed that he made multiple entries online posting his support of mass shootings, and cited a target of Planned Parenthood.

Regardless of Olsen telling the FBI that his posts were “only a joke”, he was booked on state charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, and the federal charge of threatening a federal law enforcement officer.

Although Olsen’s charges are considered to be severe for online behavior, a malicious or threatening post may qualify as defamation. Defamation is the publication of a statement about someone that hurts their reputation in the eyes of members of society.

Online actions can have severe consequences.

You may remember a case where social media played a major part in a case against two football players who were eventually found guilty of raping an intoxicated 16-year-old girl.

The victim says she doesn’t remember much of what happened the night when Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, assaulted her at a friend’s party, and that she only became aware of it after a video surfaced on social media. A key piece of evidence was an Instagram photo of the boys carrying the girl out of the house by her arms and legs.

That being said, photos and videos, whether posted publicly or obtained by police, have to meet certain criteria:

  • They must be authenticated, meaning the prosecutors have to prove the images are what they seem and have not been altered or staged;
  • they can not be shown out of context

Additional charges were later brought against two teenage girls in the same case after police were shown twitter posts threatening the physical harm to the victim if she didn’t drop the charges.

Can I be arrested for posting a video?

Richard Godbehere uploaded a 5-minute video of himself driving, cracking open a beer, then proceeding to take a drink. He then stated “We all know drinking and driving is against the law. You’re not supposed to do that. But they didn’t say anything about driving and then drinking.”

A joke, maybe. Against the law, definitely. He was surprised when the police showed up at his house prepared to arrest him on charges of consuming alcohol while operating a vehicle.

He stated the video was meant as a parody and claimed there wasn’t actually beer in the bottle, to which Police Chief Darryl Perry stated: “Our traffic laws are in place for a reason, and Mr. Godbehere’s blatant disregard for those laws is the type of behavior that won’t be tolerated.”

The moral of the story, be careful what you say online. It can, and will be used against you in a court of law.

If you or someone you love is in need of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, call Nathan Akamine.

Should Vehicle Searches Based on Odor Be Allowed?

Should Vehicle Searches Based on Odor Be Allowed?

We all had a scratch and sniff book growing up. We would marvel at how accurately the artificial scent matched the real thing. But there are legal consequences to an officer detecting an odor of marijuana. If an officer smells cannabis coming from your car, everything and everyone in your vehicle can be searched.

This is because the odor of cannabis supposedly provides an officer probable cause that there is illegal marijuana in the car. Probable cause tends to be a touchy subject. When the law says that a police officer has “probable cause,” what it means is that the officer has reason to believe there is “a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.”

But, times are changing. There’s legal marijuana now, hemp, CBD infused everything.

Well, legal hemp and legal marijuana smell exactly like illegal marijuana. So, should the odor of cannabis still provide “probable cause” to search a vehicle? It seems that this position needs to give a little.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a hypothetical. Let’s say you’re stopped for not having your headlights on. When the officer comes to your window, he claims that he smells the odor of cannabis. Based on this, he searches both you and the car. Nothing is found on you, but inside your car, he finds a bag of weed and a pill bottle with some other illegal drug. You end up facing drug charges, or even marijuana dui charges.

Related article: Can someone get a DUI for using CBD oil?

In theory, we could file a Motion to Suppress all the evidence found in the car, arguing that the officer didn’t have probable cause to search because the scent of marijuana could have been from a perfectly legal substance.

Effective July 30, 2019, Senate Bill 1020 (the “Hemp” Bill) makes the cannabis plant legal in the State of Ohio. This creates a problem for law enforcement because the plant is exactly the same as a marijuana plant, however, it is used for the THC content only. So not only does it smell like fresh illegal cannabis, it looks exactly like illegal marijuana. In fact, it takes a lab test to sort out the difference.

So the question remains, is there still “a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found?”

Most states have made medical marijuana legal, but still permit a search of a vehicle based upon the odor of cannabis, but I’m not convinced that the odor of cannabis will always provide probable cause for a search.

For another hypothetical, let’s say you have a bunch of cars parked outside of a legal medical marijuana dispensary. Let’s say law enforcement waits until a patient pulls out of the dispensary parking lot, then pulls the car over. The officer searches the car based upon the odor of fresh cannabis. Does this still qualify a legal search?

A change in the probable cause policy is sure to be re-evaluated in the future, but till then, if you’ve been charged with possession of illegal drugs, I’m here to help.

Call Nathan Akamine.

Can someone get a DUI for using CBD oil?

Can someone get a DUI for using CBD oil?

Although CBD products are advertised as being very low in THC (the compound in marijuana that gets you high), when it comes to regulation things get complicated. That means the CBD oil you bought could contain more THC than you expect. In fact, it may be enough to be detectable in a blood test, urine test, or enough to impair you.

In Ohio, you can be convicted of operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) for having any detectable amount of THC in your system. The State doesn’t have to prove that you were actually impaired by the drug, only that you had a prohibited amount in your system while driving.

That means it’s extremely important to choose CBD products that contain very little THC. Unfortunately, that is a difficult task.

CBD products vary greatly in potency.

A 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that over two-thirds of CBD products tested were mislabeled. Many contained a different amount of CBD than was listed on the label, and some, none at all. In fact, 18 of 84 samples tested had a great deal more THC than the federal limit of 0.3%. Others contained contaminants ranging from synthetic marijuana, cough medicine, and dangerous synthetics.

The FDA has sent warning letters to companies whose CBD products were found to contain different levels than claimed. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission has been sanctioning companies for making unproven health claims about CBD, but other than that, there is not much in the way of regulation.

Quest Diagnostics is the U.S.’s largest administrator of drug tests. According to the Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest, most drug tests are not designed to catch CBD users. Instead, the tests are looking for a compound that the body produces when metabolizing THC.

However, the problem may be bigger than mislabeling. Even if you’re using CBD products that do fall under the 0.3% THC limit, metabolites can gradually build up in your body until it becomes detectable via a drug test.

This is why it’s important to only buy CBD products from manufacturers who can provide a certificate of analysis (COA) for their products. The COA should list results of a company test for THC, CBD, and contaminants.

What can you do if you are charged with an OVI?

If you’re arrested for OVI due to CBD use, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. At Akamine Law, we will fight to protect the rights of people who are facing OVI charges.

Contact our Columbus office now to schedule your free consultation.