Accordingly, no Fourth Amendment violation occurred in this case when the deputy approached the door of the pole barn and knocked in an attempt to speak with Tim Barlow.
State v. Barlow
2021 – Ohio – 2191
Fifth District Appellate Court
Holmes County, Ohio
June 29, 2021
On Sunday January 13, 2019, Holmes County, Ohio Sheriff’s Sergeant Christopher Schonauer was investigating an incident were several mailboxes had been run over by a vehicle which left the scene. A neighbor informed Sgt. Schonauer that they saw a black pickup truck hit the mailboxes and believed the black truck might have belonged to the Barlow family.
Sgt. Schonauer proceeded to the Barlow residence and turned into the driveway. The Barlow residence is located at the end of a driveway that is approximately 700 feet long. Approximately 200 feet up the driveway on the right-hand side was a pole barn. The residence was farther up the driveway by an additional 500 feet. An aerial photo of the Barlow property was admitted into evidence at the suppression hearing. The pole barn had a large garage door opening on both ends, one of which faced the roadway and was visible from the road. To the left of that doorway was a smaller door, which would be classified as a people door or a normal exterior door on a house.
Sgt. Schonauer observed both large garage doors open at the time he pulled in and the people door was also partially opened. The deputy observed numerous vehicles parked around the pole barn and individuals inside. It was dark outside, but the lights were on inside the pole barn. The people and activities going on inside were clearly visible to the deputy through the large open door as he approached the pole barn.
There was loud music playing in the barn. As Sgt. Schonauer approached the building, he stated that he was looking for Tim Barlow. Nobody appeared to hear him or respond to him as he stepped up to the people doorway and pushed the door open. Sgt. Schonauer then noticed what appeared to him to be a game of beer pong and bottles of alcoholic beverages. The competitors had both focus and ineibriation which delayed the acknowledgement of Sgt. Schonauer. The majority of the people inside the pole barn did not appear to be old enough to legally consume alcohol. At this point, several people inside the building noticed the deputy. Mr. Barlow, who was sitting in a vehicle parked inside the building, turned the radio off and stepped out of the vehicle, set a bottle of alcohol on the ground, and approached Sgt. Schonauer.
On July 16, 2019, Mr. Barlow was charged in the Holmes County Municipal Court with the Offenses Involving Underage Persons in violation of R.C. 4301.69(E)(1), a misdemeanor of the first degree.
On October 23, 2019, Mr. Barlow, through counsel, filed a Motion to Suppress based on the entry into the pole barn. The trial court denied the Motion to Suppress. A trial was held, and Mr. Barlow was found guilty, sentenced to fifteen days in jail, which was suspended and six months of probation. Mr. Barlow filed an appeal to the Fifth District Appellate Court which held “Accordingly, no Fourth Amendment violation occurred in this case when the deputy approached the door of the pole barn and knocked in an attempt to speak with Tim Barlow.”.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Barlow, 2021 – Ohio – 2191.
This case was issued by the Fifth District Appellate Court and is binding in Ashland, Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Guernsey, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Richland, Stark and Tuscarawas Counties.
- Barlow appeal was based on unlawful entry into the pole barn. The Fifth District Appellate Court began to analyze the entry based on several factors.
- Pole barn was not a residence.
- The Barlow family did not demonstrate an expectation of privacy with the pole barn because it was not shielded in any way. The barn doors were open, lights were on, cars were parked in close proximity to it, music was blaring, and the entire barn could be seen from the roadway despite it being five hundred feet from the residence.
- Upon Sgt. Schonauer’s approach he could see people inside who did not acknowledge his presence. He called out and received no response, so he entered to contact Mr. Tim Barlow as part of his mailbox destruction investigation. The court specifically addressed this entry “As the deputy approached the building, he stated that he was looking for Tim Barlow. Nobody appeared to hear him or respond to him as he stepped up to the people doorway and pushed the door open.”.
- At the moment of entry, “Sergeant Schonauer then noticed what appeared to him to be a game of Beer Pong and bottles of alcoholic beverages. The majority of the people inside the pole barn did not appear to be old enough to legally consume alcohol. At this point, several people inside the building noticed the officer.”.
- Based on the aforementioned factors the Fifth District Appellate Court held “It is beyond dispute that the deputy could lawfully walk upon walkways, driveways, or access routes and porches leading to the residence and pole barn in an attempt to speak with Tim Barlow concerning the damaged mailboxes, just as any other member of the public would or could do.”. Because the pole barn was not a residence, the Barlow family provided no barriers such as closing the barn doors, the pole barn did not have the same Fourth Amendment protections of a residence. Consequently, the Barlow family did not have an expectation of privacy for beer pong on this night at this location. Perhaps the contestants of this beer pong game will hold future competitions behind closed doors.
- For more information on crossing the threshold of a residential doorway see: Can the Community Caretaking Doctrine Permit Law Enforcement to Cross the Threshold of a Residence?, Did Cambridge Police Enter the Home under Exigent Circumstance or Consent?, Does Nate’s Mom Still Know Where He is Staying?, Walter Not Only Knew His Fourth Amendment Rights … He Created a New Fourth Amendment Right!, Sometimes Husbands and Wives disagree … But What is an Officer to Do?, A Consensual Entry That Wasn’t. The Officers Were Wrong … But Were They Reasonable? and Did Partiers at Peaches’ Party Create Probable Cause or Create Plaintiffs?.
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