Community Caretaking Function

The Fourth Amendment established that warrantless searches of private property are illegal, but there are some exceptions for this, one of them being community caretaking.

The idea behind the community caretaking function is that law enforcement does not always act as officials eradicating communities from wrongdoing, but often time act as caretakers of the community who prevent harm in emergency situations. But sometimes they can overstep their boundaries when it comes to community caretaking functions.

Attorney for Community Caretaking Function in Cincinnati, OH

If you believe an officer improperly used community caretaking as a reason for arresting you, it would be in your best interest to contact Joslyn Law Firm today. Our attorneys will fight to protect your rights and prove law enforcement violated the Fourth Amendment. 

We assist clients in communities that include Cincinnati, Hamilton, Middletown, Lebanon, Sharonville, Blue Ash, Fairfield, Mason, Oxford and many others in central Ohio. Call us today at (513) 339-6289 or submit your information in our online form and one of our attorneys will review your case for free.


Overview of Community Caretaking Function in Cincinnati, OH


Back to Top

What is Community Caretaking?

There is little mention of community caretaking in Ohio law, but it is referred to as the belief a law enforcement officer may enter private property without a warrant if he or she believes the individual(s) inside are injured, ill, or the victim of a crime and in need of assistance. 

Two of the most common types of community caretaking are as follows:

  • Emergency Aid: If an officer has reason to believe a person is in need of emergency assistance, they may stop the individual so they can provide aid. This usually occurs when a driver experiences medical problems while driving.
  • Public Servant: This involves help that is not an emergency. For instance, you are pulled over on the side of the road with a flat tire, so an officer pulls over to help you change the tire. The problem arises when the officer restrains a person of their freedom to move around and go about their business.

Back to Top

When does Community Caretaking Cross the Line?

The community caretaking function is designed to help citizens, but there are times when it is considered unlawful. In many cases involving OVI/DUI, an individual will be asleep or unconscious in their parked vehicle, and without probable cause, a crime is being committed, an officer will bang on the window to wake the person up.

The court will pay close attention to the number of officers involved if their vehicles used emergency equipment to cause the stop, if the officers blocked the suspect’s vehicle, if they opened the door and if there was any assertion of authority used by the officer to gain compliance.

There are three basic requirements that need to be met in order for community caretaking to have taken place. They are as follows:

  1. Law enforcement must reasonably believe their assistance is warranted immediately in order to protect human life or property interest. The courts consider this an objective test and is based on the totality of the circumstances
  1. Law enforcement’s actions are based on the belief that property or human life is threatened. This means the officer must believe their actions are required to protect the property or person
  1. Law enforcement responds to the perceived need. For instance, you call 911 and say you have fallen in your kitchen. Officers should not be searching the garage after finding the injured person in the kitchen unless there was additional evidence discovered at the scene that makes the garage search relevant.

Community caretaking function is also a legal duty under constitutional law. An officer who fails to perform the function when needed could face civil liability consequences. If you believe an officer crossed the line under community caretaking function or refused to help you when you needed it, call Joslyn Law Firm as soon as possible.


Back to Top

Additional Community Caretaking Function Resources

Fourth Amendment of the U.S Constitution – Read the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution on the Cornell Law School website. The amendment covers unreasonable searches and seizures. The Cornell Law School website features free law materials for all to use.

Law Enforcement Cannot Conduct Unjustified Searches- The University of Cincinnati Law Review published an article on how law enforcement cannot search vehicles subsequent to a recent occupant’s arrest. The University of Cincinnati Law Review publishes articles and sponsors symposiums focused on current legal topics.


Back to Top

Lawyer for Community Caretaking Function in Cincinnati, OH

If you were arrested for OVI/DUI in the Cincinnati area, and believe your stop and arrest was illegal, then contact Joslyn Law Firm today. Our attorneys are experienced with DUI cases and they will fight to make sure your rights are protected. 

We proudly assist clients in central Ohio that include Cincinnati, Hamilton, Middletown, Lebanon, Sharonville, Blue Ash, Fairfield, Mason, Oxford and many others. Call us today at (513) 339-6289 or submit your information in our online form and one of our attorneys will review your case for free.


Back to Top

Proudly Recognized by Respected Legal Organizations

NACDA Top Ten Selection for Criminal Defense in Ohio NACDA Top Ten Selection for Criminal Defense in Ohio National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100 National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100 Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Better Business Bureau Accredited Business Better Business Bureau Accredited Business Nationally Ranked Superior DUI Attorney by the NAFDD Nationally Ranked Superior DUI Attorney by the NAFDD Member of the National College for DUI Defense Member of the National College for DUI Defense Member of the Federal Bar Association Member of the Federal Bar Association Superb Rating for Criminal Defense on Avvo Superb Rating for Criminal Defense on Avvo
Member of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Member of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Member of the American Bar Association Member of the American Bar Association Member of the National Police Accountability Project Member of the National Police Accountability Project Member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Member of the DUI Defense Lawyers Association Member of the DUI Defense Lawyers Association Member of the American Association for Justice Member of the American Association for Justice