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Court: Police Get More Time to Plant Tracking Devices

The Ohio Supreme Court is giving law enforcement extra time to install tracking devices after obtaining a search warrant.

A rule change announced yesterday by the court, effective next Tuesday, will give prosecutors and law enforcement up to 10 days, instead of the current three, to safely install an electronic device to track a person or property. The device may remain in place no longer than 45 days.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien was among those who asked the court to modify the rule, which previously did not distinguish the timing of executing a regular search warrant from a warrant for a tracking device. Three days were allowed for both. However, O'Brien and Fairfield County Prosecutor Gregg Marx argued that it sometimes takes more than three days to safely and secretly install a tracking device.

O'Brien said the three-day rule has been in effect for about 40 years, starting well before the development of sophisticated electronic devices to track either a package or a vehicle.

"On occasion, once you develop a case, a car goes missing and you can't find it within three days," O'Brien said. "Then we would have to go get a new warrant."

The rule also requires that suspects whose vehicles are tracked be given a copy of the search warrant within 10 days after the tracker is removed, unless police can show that a longer delay is warranted.

The Ohio Constitution requires that "Rules of Practice and Procedure" for state courts must be filed with the General Assembly. They will become effective on July 1 unless the General Assembly -- which is not expected to return to session until this fall -- specifically objects to the changes.

Copyright 2014 - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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