Yes, a Man in Ohio Is Facing Prison Time Entirely for Having a Secret Car Compartment

Nobody whose logo looks like this should be accusing anybody else of drug-related offensesNorman Gurley, whom I noted
last week
was arrested
in northern Ohio for violating the state’s new
statute prohibiting secret compartments in cars (if authorities
determine they’re being used for transporting drugs) faces a
preliminary hearing tomorrow at Oberlin Municipal Court. According
to court
, Ohio Highway Patrol officers weren’t kidding when
they said they’d have nothing on Gurley if they hadn’t found the
compartment. The one count of violating Ohio’s hidden compartment
law is the only charge levied against Gurley.

Even though Gurley’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for
tomorrow, Oberlin’s site does not list an attorney for the man to
try to contact. Several commenters (and e-mailers) are curious as
to how the troopers justified the search. You can probably guess,
but if not, The Morning Journal of … somewhere
(dear small media outlets: Please indicate where the
hell you are on your websites and not assume that visitors already
got some comments
from Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Michael

“The troopers noticed a smell of raw marijuana, which led them
to perform a search of the car,” Combs said. “While searching, they
saw some indicators that led them to believe a secret compartment
may have been added to the car.”

So the officers were able to smell raw marijuana while standing
outside the vehicle, but they weren’t able to find any during their
search. Those are some strong noses. I bet they don’t even need
police dogs up there in Ohio. Combs added that they found evidence
that the car was being used to transport drugs, but the evidence is
not detailed.

Violating Ohio’s hidden compartment law is a fourth degree felony,
meaning a judge could sentence Gurley to up to 18 months in prison
if convicted. If the defendant had been previously convicted
(apparently not the case with Gurley) the crime becomes a
third-degree felony, leading to a sentence of up to three years. If
it turns out there are drugs in the hidden compartment, the crime
becomes a second degree felony with a potential sentence of up to
five years in prison.

Once Reason passed along the story on Thursday it spread fast
and quickly on the Internet through social media. I’ll do my best
to try to keep an eye on the case (from all the way out here in
California), and when Gurley gets an attorney, I’ll see if he or
she is willing to comment.

from Hit & Run

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