June 7, 2023 | Ohio Law
Understandably, many people find it essential to stay informed about what’s happening in their local communities. One tool that some people use to keep up with emergency services and law enforcement activities is a police scanner. However, the legality of these devices in Ohio raises some questions.
What is a Police Scanner?
A police scanner is a device that lets people tune into different emergency service channels, including those used by the police, fire department, and EMS. These devices are often used by news reporters, emergency personnel, and even some curious citizens to stay informed about accidents, crimes, and other events happening in their local areas.
Are Police Scanners Legal in Ohio?
Although there isn’t a statewide law in Ohio against using police scanners, some local areas within the state have established their own regulations.
For example, in Newark, Ohio, city ordinances specifically state that no person is permitted to install frequency modulation radio receiving equipment in a business or vehicle unless it’s an emergency vehicle or government agency. A violation of this ordinance is a misdemeanor under Section 698.02.
The absence of a statewide law does not mean that possessing or using a police scanner in Ohio is always free from consequences.
As per Ohio state law Section 2923.24(A), no person is allowed to possess or control a device or instrument with the intent to use it criminally.
This means that if you possess and intend to use a police scanner (or any other item) for criminal purposes, you could be in violation of Ohio law and face criminal charges.
Tips for Using Police Scanners Legally in Ohio
Confirm local rules and regulations: Before purchasing or using a police scanner in your area, check if any specific rules or ordinances govern their use in your municipality. Verify this information with your local law enforcement agency, by searching online on your local government website, or by speaking with a lawyer.
Consider the intended purpose: When using a police scanner, be aware of your intentions. If you plan to utilize the device for criminal purposes, you could face charges under state law. As such, ensure that your use of your police scanner is strictly for legal and responsible reasons, such as staying informed about local emergencies or events.
Stay discreet: While it’s legal to own and use a police scanner in most places in Ohio, public opinion on this topic may vary, and drawing attention to your scanner use may be viewed with suspicion by others. Consider keeping a low profile when using your police scanner to avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings.
Avoid using a police scanner while driving: If you need to use a scanner to listen to emergency transmissions while on the road, consider pulling over to a safe location before doing so. Distracted driving can cause serious accidents.
Remember the potential consequences: Even if your area does not have specific rules about police scanners, be aware of the potential consequences of their misuse. Possessing a police scanner with the intent to use it criminally could result in misdemeanor charges, fines, and other potential penalties.
Contact a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorney If You Have Questions or Were Charged with Misusing a Police Scanner
If you have any questions or concerns about the legality of using a police scanner in Ohio, or if you find yourself facing criminal charges related to the misuse of a police scanner, contacting a lawyer should be your top priority.
An experienced Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer will understand the intricacies of Ohio law and can offer advice on using a police scanner safely and within legal boundaries. They can also help defend your rights in court if necessary.
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202