OH6: Home surveillance DVR not within “computer hardware and software” in home SW

A home surveillance DVR was not reasonably included within the search warrant for drug transction records or “computer [or] related computer hardware and software.” State v. Williamson, 2019-Ohio-241, 2019 Ohio App. LEXIS 245 (6th Dist. Jan. 25, 2019)

[*P23] Here, we agree with appellees that to characterize the DVR system as a “drug transaction record,” “computer [or] related computer hardware and software,” “video tape,” or “instrument, equipment, or paraphernalia * * * used to store * * * drugs” would require us to shoehorn the evidence into one of these general, ill-fitting categories. The DVR system simply does not fit naturally into any of the general categories specified in the warrant.

[*P24] Additionally, we find that the detective’s testimony was insufficient to establish that the DVR system was “derived from or instrumental to” drug trafficking, as specified by the warrant. See State v. Bangera, 2016-Ohio-4596, 70 N.E.3d 75, ¶ 50 (11th Dist.). First, we note that there were multiple cameras positioned around the perimeter of the property—not just focused on the drugs. The detective acknowledged that people use security systems to secure their property from break-ins, and he agreed that people do not normally have security cameras to record their criminal activity.

[*P25] Moreover, when asked how he knew that the DVR system was recording for the cameras located outside the home, the detective provided no specific information other than saying that it was the only DVR that was brought to his attention. He was unable to say that the DVR system, which was found in a bedroom, was connected to the exterior camera that was pointed at the drugs, and he did not know whether the DVR system had recorded anything at all—let alone that it was “instrumental” to drug trafficking. For this same reason, we find the state’s reliance upon Kobi, 122 Ohio App.3d 160 at 171, 701 N.E.2d 420, misplaced. The detective’s testimony was insufficient to establish any relationship—let alone a close relationship—between the DVR system and the crime being investigated.

[*P26] Accordingly, we conclude that officers exceeded the scope of the warrant when they seized the DVR system. We find the state’s first assignment of error not well taken.

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