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The Law Office of Stephen W. Wolf, LLC

26777 Lorain Road Suite 709

North Olmsted, Ohio  44070


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1 in 7 Drivers Convicted of Driving Impaired

The Akron Beacon Journal published an article which reports that one out of every seven Ohio drivers have been convicted of driving while impaired.

If you've been charged with OVI, you are not alone.  In 2010 there were 58,279 arrests.

The Akron article can be found here A PDF of the article was saved here.

Thanks the Akron Beacon Journal for bringing this to light.

Trooper fails, client wins OVI dismissal

My client was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.  The trooper's video showed the only weaving was when the aggressive trooper weaved his cruiser into the lane being used by my client, forcing my client off the side of the road.  The trooper's instructions to my client were garbled.  All of the required field tests were done wrong.  On the day of the suppression hearing I was able to demonstrate first to the prosecutor and then to the magistrate that the stop was unconstitutional, the tests were not admissible and all evidence should be suppressed.  We didn't even need a suppression hearing.  They dropped the OVI.  My client was valid that same day.

OVI:  Second offense driving while intoxicated reduced

After a prior arrest for driving while intoxicated, my client pled guilty at his arraignment and did all that the first court asked.  When arrested again the client came to me.  He faced the longer second-offense mandatory jail time.  Here he would have been required to serve ten consecutive days.  I was able to show that there was no evidence that during the first sentencing his rights were properly explained to him.  This led to a reduction of his charge back to a first offense and my client escaped jail time.  He instead attended the standard 72 hour class for first offenders.

Cleveland Click-It-Or-Ticket OVI dismissed

My client was stopped at a sobriety check point.  Having an attorney that understands the workings of these check points is vitally important.  In this case, my client was cited for having a blood alcohol reading of 0.48 grams per 210 liters of breath.  You are normally dead if your BAC hits 0.35.  You're in a coma long before that.  Never mind, the operator of the testing device had to operate the machine while talking on a cell phone.  That's a big problem as their machines cannot have radio frequency interference in the area.  Never mind the one officer was going to release my client but was countermanded by his sergeant.  The list of errors went on and on.  In the end, my client plead to a no-point seat belt violation, paid his $170.00 and went home.  He really wasn't wearing his seat belt.

If you have a "Click it or Ticket" OVI, make sure you get an attorney.  My experience, both as a defense attorney and through my thirty-two years as a police officer, is that these are assembly line operations that greatly increase the chance of error.  Also, if they aren't getting enough tickets to pay for the cost of the check point, it appears they lower their standards and start arresting borderline cases.  In the above case, my client's actual BAC was 0.048, not 0.480.  A reading of 0.048 proves his blood alcohol is well under the legal limit of 0.08.

Change in medications = dismissal

A pharmaceutical company stopped making a drug which had been prescribed to my client.  His doctor ordered another drug in its place.  An unforeseen interaction resulted in my client being found sleeping in his car in a gas station parking lot.  He was charged with physical control.  I was able to show evidence that it was not physical control but a medical emergency that caused my client to appear drunk.  The case was dismissed.


Finding a lost animal or

adopting a rescue pet

Is it mine "furever"???


This is not about adopting a wild animal.  You cannot do that; you can't take in a raccoon, wild rabbit, squirrel, etc.  The state will issue you a criminal citation and you most likely will lose in court.  This is about rescuing a dog or cat.

You are adopting a rescue pet or you find a domestic pet, a dog or cat or pet bunny or the like, and you want to keep it.

Once in a very very long while, once in a tremendous amount of pet adoptions, a person shows up who alleges that the rescue pet is theirs.  What to do?

What kind of property is my dog or cat?

You animal is tangible property.  It has the same status as your purse, wallet, a chair you own or your car.

In Ohio, what happens when property is abandoned?

Intangible property, like money and stocks, have a great deal of law covering what happens.  Tangible property, like pets, have virtually no law at all.

Here is a rule or sorts:  The property is abandoned when the owner abandons it.

Let's do a little chart of what-if situations and work through the arguments:

  • The pet was gone two days and no attempts to find the owner have been made:

    • Here you don't have much of an argument that the pet was abandoned.

  • The owner of the pet said he or she was abandoning the animal and two days have elapsed:

    • Still weak.  If the owner has a change of heart, you might to lose the animal.

  • A long time has elapsed, weeks or years, and the original owner never tried to find the animal:

    • Your arguments are getting better!  See the next line.

  • A long time has elapsed, weeks or years, and the original owner never tried to find the animal.  You tried and tried, with newspaper ads, fliers, asking through the neighborhood and other means.  You adopted the pet from a rescue who had it advertised on a popular site:

    • Now you are getting to a good argument that the owner abandoned the animal.

The Ohio Revised Code on lost pets

The Ohio Revised Code really does not talk about a rescue pet.  It does contains a section of law that allows both government and private people recover the cost of collecting up a wayward animal.  It isn't really for rescue groups.  It isn't really for a person who decides to adopt a dog or cat they found.  But should a dispute over ownership later ensue, this section of law will almost certainly be used against the finder or new owner.

The law

Here is the section of law as it is written:

951.11 Estrays -- A person finding an animal at large in violation of section 951.02 of the Revised Code, may, and a law enforcement officer of a county, township, city, or village, on view or information, shall, take and confine that animal, promptly giving notice of the taking and confining of the animal to the owner or keeper, if known, and, if not known, by publishing a notice describing the animal once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county, township, city, or village where the animal was found. If the owner or keeper does not appear and claim the animal and pay the compensation prescribed in section 951.13 of the Revised Code for so taking, advertising, and keeping it within ten days from the date of the notice, that person or the county shall have a lien for that compensation, and the animal may be sold at public auction as provided in section 1311.49 of the Revised Code . The residue of the proceeds of sale shall be paid and deposited by the treasurer in the general fund of the county.

A person wanting to recover a dog or cat they had lost will say that notice of EVERY animal found must publish in a newspaper of general circulation and then may sell the animal at a public auction. A newspaper of general circulation would be the Plain Dealer or the Legal Times.

Do rescues follow this law? Of course not.  It would be sad to impose another expense on lost animals.

Let's take that one step farther:  Does any of the city, county or state shelters do this.  Not with pets!

So the law doesn't apply, right?  Not so fast!

There is precious little case law on this section. In what case law is there, it is applied most when an animal hurts someone.

If the worst happens, if an alleged owner gets you into court, this law will be front and center and an attempt will be made to use the law against you.

So what should I do?

If you expect you might someday have trouble with your legitimately rescued pet or if you are that consummate worrier, do this:

1.  Put a one-time ad in a paper of general circulation.  I would suggest the Daily Legal News.  Put something like this in the ad:

Pursuant to RC 951.11, this is notice that a twenty-five pound dog about sixteen inches at the withers and about thirty inches long has been found.  Colors are white and brown. Contact the Law Office of Stephen W. Wolf, 26777 Lorain Road Suite 709, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070.

2.  Wait ten days.

After that, you can claim you fully complied with Ohio Revised Code 951.11.  Should you end up in court, the judge may or may not agree with you.  But at least you have taken the air out of the alleged original owner's arguments that you ignored 951.11.

Does that mean the animal is mine?

Nope.  The police will attempt to charge you with a crime.

The alleged original owner will go to the police and file a police report.  The police will contact you.  If the police believe that the alleged original owner has enough evidence to show the animal is his or hers, the police will threaten you with some criminal charge, probably either Theft or Receiving Stolen Property.

 Here is the theft code:

2913.02 Theft -- (A) No person, with purpose to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or exert control over either the property or services in any of the following ways: (1) Without the consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent; (2) Beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent; (3) By deception; (4) By threat; (5) By intimidation.

If you are charged with theft, they think you purposefully stole the pet.  You need to call me, NOW!  You need an attorney.  The people involved get all fired up and sometimes act irrationally when a pet is involved.  In most cases the police cannot prove that you personally stole the animal.  So they have to go to a derivative, saying that know that you know the dog belongs to someone else, you refuse to turn it over to the police to be returned to the alleged original owner.

Here is receiving stolen property, which doesn't work either, because the pet must have been stolen:

2913.51 Receiving stolen property -- (A) No person shall receive, retain, or dispose of property of another knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the property has been obtained through commission of a theft offense.  (B) It is not a defense to a charge of receiving stolen property in violation of this section that the property was obtained by means other than through the commission of a theft offense if the property was explicitly represented to the accused person as being obtained through the commission of a theft offense.

Again, if the dog was lost it wasn't stolen, so this doesn't apply.

There are also companion animal statutes but those do not apply.

Once I hire you and assuming we beat the criminal violations, what then?

Then the alleged original owner sues you in civil court for a multitude of alleged common law offenses.  It is here you have to decide how much money you are going to pay to keep the pet.  The costs will be large, exceedingly large.  These cases often revolve around who wants to spend more; who will drop out first.