Annual Permits for Hotels and Motels Proposed to Deter Prostitution and Solicitation Crimes in Columbus

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Columbus officials are working to implement a new plan that would create stronger regulations on hotels and motels in the city in an attempt to curb solicitation and prostitution crimes occurring at the businesses, according to a recent article in the Columbus Dispatch.

The Columbus City Council plans to hold a hearing on the proposed law on July 30, 2015, after more than one year of planning and drafting. According to the article, the law would require annual permits for hotel and motel operators. If the business has a high crime rate, the permit to operate could be denied.

Officials who drafted the law studied a similar one that was adopted in Chula Vista, California, in 2006. The city, located near San Diego, can deny annual hotel and motel permits if officials decide the businesses had too many arrests related to drugs and prostitution. This regulation would be the first of its kind in Ohio.

Several Columbus area hotel and motel businesses have been involved in controversial crime stories in recent years. Three motels near the Interstate 71 and Route 161 interchange that were widely known as a site for drug and prostitution crimes have been closed by court order.

Law enforcement officers with the Columbus Ohio Division of Police typically use these locations for undercover sting operations. An undercover office may pose as a prostitute near the motel and another officer would arrest those who solicit him or her for sexual acts.

In many of these cases, an entrapment defense comes into play because the undercover police officers posing as prostitutes tend to use aggressive techniques to pursue the unsuspecting man to engage in conduct that could be considered soliciting a prostitute.

Ohio law states soliciting a prostitute is a third-degree misdemeanor for a first offense. This could be punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. In these cases, the person does not have to be an actual prostitute for it to qualify as an offense.

For instance, if a person solicits an undercover police officer to engage in sexual activity in exchange for compensation, he or she still could face solicitation charges. Additionally, the compensation does not have to be money. It could be any type of good, service or object, including narcotics.

Ohio law also outlines loitering in an attempt to solicit a prostitute a criminal offense. According to state law, a person who is attempting to solicit another to engage in sexual activity for hire while in or near a public place cannot do any of the following:

  • Beckon to, stop or attempt to stop another person;
  • Engage or attempt to engage another in conversation;
  • Stop or attempt to stop a vehicle operator; or
  • Interfere with the passage of another.

A public place, according to the law, could mean a street, road, highway, bikeway, walkway, bridge, alley, plaza, park, driveway and a parking lot. Loitering near a hotel or motel with the intent to solicit a person for sexual activity could result in an arrest.

Although being accused of a solicitation or prostitution crime could feel like the end of the world, there are options for building a strong defense. Weakening the prosecution’s case before it even goes to trial could help to ensure your life remains on track. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.

Contact Columbus solicitation attorney Brian Joslyn of Joslyn Law Firm. Brian Joslyn has years of experience fighting for the rights of those accused of solicitation. He understands the sensitivity of your charges, and he will work with you discretely to solve your issues. Your future and reputation are important, and Brian can help you protect both. Call (614) 444-1900 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Columbus solicitation defense attorney.

Handling Arrests and Weapons Charges After Red, White & Boom! Festival

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Each summer thousands of people gather in downtown Columbus for the Red, White & Boom! festival, an annual Independence Day event that includes the largest Fourth of July firework display in Ohio.

The festival features a variety of activities each year, including the Independence Parade that kicks off on the corner of Main Street and Second Street with more than 70 participants. The event also has a plethora of food and entertainment options before the firework finale.

With so many people in a condensed area, law enforcement officers will be plentiful. According to the Columbus Dispatch, police will be monitoring the event with cameras set up throughout the downtown area. Officers also will be present on foot, horseback, motorcycles and bicycles.

Sgt. Gregory DeRosier of the Columbus Division of Police said officers will be targeting people who are in possession of alcohol outside of the permitted areas, have laser pointers pointed at aircraft or have drones flying too close to restricted airspace near the fireworks launch point, according to the article.

Additionally, law enforcement officers will target any festival attendees who are in possession of firearms and weapons. Under Ohio law, firearms and weapons could include various types of deadly weapons, handguns and dangerous ordnances.

Ohio Revised Code § 2923.11 defines a dangerous ordnance as any automatic or sawed-off firearm, zip-gun, ballistic knife, explosive device, incendiary device, explosive chemicals, high explosive compositions, blasting agents, military weapons and any other explosive substance.

If a person knowingly carries or conceals any of these weapons or firearms on their body or within their control, such as in a purse or backpack, he or she could face charges for carrying a concealed weapon. According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.12, this could be a minor misdemeanor, misdemeanor of the first degree and felony of the fourth or third degree.

Columbus Deputy Police Chief Ken Kuebler said the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve are popular holidays for celebratory gunfire, according to the Columbus Dispatch. However, this is considered a criminal offense, punishable by a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

A person could be charged with improper discharge of a firearm if he or she discharges it at or into an occupied habitation of an individual, in or into a school safety zone, at a cemetery, on a lawn or ground of an inhabited building and on or over a public road or highway.

Shooting a firearm within 1,000 feet of any school building or school premises, such as Columbus Downtown High School, with the intent to cause physical harm, panic or fear of physical harm to someone also could result in the charge.

These offenses are punishable as a misdemeanor of the fourth or first degree, or a felony of the third degree, second or first degree. However, if the firearm discharge causes an injury to someone, the charges could be much more severe.

No matter the charge, firearm and weapon crimes should be taken seriously. If you are arrested this weekend at the Red, White & Boom! festival in downtown Columbus for a firearm offense, contact criminal defense attorney Brian Joslyn of Joslyn Law Firm. As a member of the American Gun Owners Alliance, Brian is educated about gun laws, and he is skilled in defending people facing firearm charges. Call (614) 444-1900 to schedule a free consultation.

Ohio Police Using Backpage and Craigslist for Solicitation and Prostitution Arrests

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Law enforcement agencies throughout Franklin County and the surrounding areas in Ohio are cracking down on online advertising for erotic services and changing the way solicitation arrests are made.

Within recent years, websites like Backpage and Craigslist have been used to promote erotic services. Men and women are labeled “companions” in the ads, or they advertise massage services. However, these businesses typically are frauds and are used to advertise illegal prostitution.

Police departments are aware of the tactics used to promote prostitution. The departments often use sting operations to make prostitution and solicitation arrests. In some cases, undercover officers may contact the number in the ad, using that to make prostitution or trafficking arrests.

Other times, departments can run ads on the websites and arrange meetings with those seeking the services at local Columbus hotels and motels. This often is done at businesses near the Interstate 71 and Route 161 interchange, such as Days Inn Columbus North and Doubletree Hotel.

When meeting the “johns,” undercover officers pose as prostitutes and make arrests once the person solicits the officer or exchanges money with the officer for sexual services.

According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2907.241, solicitation is defined as knowingly and intentionally attempting to persuade, compel, induce or encourage  someone to participate in sexual activity in order to receive some form of compensation. A sexual act does not have to be committed for the charge to apply.

For example, if an undercover officer is posing as a prostitute, other officers can make a solicitation arrest once the john suggests he or she will pay for some sort of sexual act to be performed. The act does not have to happen to warrant the charge.

Solicitation of a prostitute is considered a third-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. However, one of the biggest consequences associated with a solicitation charge is the possibility of a criminal record.

Once a person is convicted of solicitation, the information becomes public record. Future employers, family members, neighbors and spouses can see the criminal history. A conviction could have a long-lasting effect on the social and personal aspects of a person’s life.

Some offenders could be eligible for a diversion program, sometimes referred to as a “John School.” During this program, participants are educated on the dangers of soliciting a prostitute and the health risks associated with participating in sexual activity with a prostitute.

If the program is successfully completed, the offender could have the charges dropped. This could mean avoiding time behind bars and not having a criminal record. However, being accepted into the diversion program can be difficult. The programs often are full and finding space for an offender can be tricky.

If you have been accused of soliciting a prostitute, contact Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900. Our experienced attorneys can help you discretely fight the charges and work to get a favorable outcome. Your reputation is important. Call today.

Ohio House Bill to Change Police Requirements and Increase Training

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The Ohio House approved a bill this week that would change the requirements to become a law enforcement officer in the state and increase the number of training hours applicants must complete.

The bill, introduced by Republican representatives Tim Derickson of Oxford and Nathan Manning of North Ridgeville, was aimed at improving relationships between local police and their communities, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The nation has seen increased coverage of controversial fatal police shootings, including the shooting of John Crawford, a 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed last August in a Dayton-area Walmart while holding an air rifle.

Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black child, was fatally shot in November in a Cleveland park while holding a BB gun. The deaths of these two Ohio residents sparked protests and concern regarding police actions. Some state officials have been examining law enforcement practices.

The new measures in the bill are a result of recommendations for upgrading police training and standards by committees convened by Attorney General Mike DeWine and Gov. John Kasich. The committees were established in response to the protests.

Ohio is one of only three states that does not require law enforcement officers to have a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalence before becoming an officer. However, House Bill 204 would make having one mandatory.

If a person has been appointed a police officer before the bill is passed, he or she would not have to meet the requirement. This means the person still could be an officer, if hired for the job before the date of the bill, without a diploma or GED.

The bill also would lift the current training cap of 650 hours, adding the attorney general will not restrict the state police training commission from establishing a higher amount if deemed necessary. This could allow increased training beyond the 650, although it would not be mandatory.

Proper police training is critical in ensuring a person’s rights are not violated during an arrest. Violations often include interrogation without Miranda warnings or in violation of an individual’s Fifth Amendment rights, conducting a search and seizure without probable cause or a warrant and unlawful execution of a search and seizure warrant.

If the person’s rights were violated, this could be a criminal defense to the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge the admissibility of evidence or file a motion to suppress evidence. This could be the difference between a conviction and having the charges dismissed.

If you are arrested for a criminal offense in Ohio, contacting an experienced defense attorney is important. Contact Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 to schedule a free initial consultation and learn more about how to protect yourself after criminal charges.

Solicitation Stings Changing in Ohio, but Alleged Offenders Still Have Options for Defenses

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Law enforcement officers and agencies throughout the country are changing the way in which they target those suspected of prostitution and solicitation. In some instances, agencies even have utilized online solicitation websites to garner arrests and more information into the local prostitution business.

In Ohio, some law enforcement agencies have used the adult entertainment classified site backpage.com to make prostitution-related arrests. According to WHIO, Dayton police officers arrested a man for solicitation after he responded to an advertisement on the website placed by the department’s Vice Crimes Unit.

Police departments long have used sting operations to make prostitution and solicitation arrests. Many times, undercover officers would pose as prostitutes and officers would arrest those who solicit the officer. Now, as technology changes, departments are utilizing the Internet for these decoy solicitation operations.

According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2907.241, solicitation is defined as knowingly and intentionally attempting to persuade, compel, induce or encourage  someone to participate in sexual activity in order to receive some form of compensation. In these instances, the act does not necessarily have to be committed for the charge to apply.

For instance, if a person is accused of soliciting an undercover officer and suggesting he or she will pay for some sort of sexual act, other officers likely would make the arrest and the act would not occur. Simply offering or attempting to persuade someone is enough for the arrest.

Additionally, the compensation offered does not have to be monetary. For example, a person could be arrested and charged with solicitation if he offers an undercover officer some other type of benefit in exchange for sex. This benefit could be goods, drugs, transportation or any other object.

Solicitation of a prostitute generally is considered a third-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. However, the biggest consequence associated with a charge for solicitation is the possibility of a criminal record.

Once a person is convicted of solicitation, the information becomes public record. This means future employers, family members and even spouses can see your criminal history. Although the court-issued punishments may seem minor, a conviction could have a long lasting effect on the social and personal aspects of a person’s life.

Some offenders could be eligible for a diversion program, often called a “John School.” During this program, participants are educated on the risks and dangers of soliciting a prostitute and the health risks associated with participating in sexual activity with a prostitute.

Additionally, participants in the program also will hear from former sex workers who have since stopped working as a prostitute. They explain what their lives were like and how they were affected by their former professions. The goal of the program is to decrease the likeliness of the person to re-offend.

If the program is successfully completed, the offender could have the charges against him or her dropped. This could mean avoiding time behind bars and not having a criminal record. However, being accepted into the diversion program can be difficult. The programs often are full and finding space for an offender can be tricky.

A skilled criminal defense attorney can make the difference in your case. Whether it is getting the charges dropped or getting an offender enrolled in a John School, the attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm can help you avoid a damning criminal record. Our law firm is honest with our clients and discrete with their information. No matter your situation, we can help you quietly solve your criminal charges.

If you have been accused of soliciting a prostitute, contact Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900. Our experienced attorneys can help you move on with your life after the allegations. You future is important, and so is protecting your reputation. Call today to schedule a free consultation about your unique case.