Supreme Court Rules Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence Cannot Own a Gun

Supreme Court Rules Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence Prohibited From Gun Ownership

Supreme Court Rules Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence Cannot Own a Gun

Today, in Voisine v. United States,  the Supreme Court ruled that individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence are prohibited from owning a gun under U.S.C. §922(g)(9). In another Supreme Court case, United States v. Castleman, the Court established that an individual loses his or her gun rights after being convicted of intentional domestic assault; however, there was still a question of whether an individual could be prohibited from owing a gun when the domestic violence conduct was reckless and not intentional.

Short Answer: Yes, an individual convicted of reckless domestic assault or battery is prohibited from owning a gun under federal law.

Can reckless conduct cause a person to lose his or her gun rights?

The two petitioners in Voisine were both convicted of domestic violence under the Maine Criminal Code § 207. Maine Criminal Code § 207 defines assault as “… intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury or offensive physical contact to another person”.

The petitioners argued that the conduct which led to the criminal conviction was not intentional, but reckless and should not be considered a violation of U.S.C. §922(g)(9) or result in the loss of gun ownership rights.

The Supreme Court reasoned that Congress intended for individuals convicted of intentional assault and reckless assault to be barred from owning a firearm. In the 12 page opinion, the Court explained Congress’s definition of a “misdemeanor crime of violence” contains no exclusion for convictions based on reckless behavior and that “a person who assaults another recklessly uses force, no less than one who carries out that same action knowingly or intentionally”. The Court further asserted that “[f]irearms and domestic strife are a potentially deadly combination.

Can a person convicted of domestic violence in Ohio lose his or her gun rights?

34 states, including Ohio, have statutes which criminalize intentional and reckless harm against a family or household member. Under Ohio Revised Code § 2919.25 an individual may be convicted of domestic violence if he or she does the following:

  1. Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a family or household member;
  2. Recklessly causes serious physical harm to a family or household member; or
  3. By threat or force, knowingly causes a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.

If an individual is convicted of domestic violence under Ohio Revised Code § 2919.25 he or she is prohibited from owning a gun under the federal statute U.S.C. §922(g)(9) regardless of whether the conduct was intentional or reckless.

Hire an attorney to increase likelihood of retaining gun ownership rights

Immediately after being accused or charged with domestic violence, it is important to consult an experienced domestic violence defense attorney. Individuals who represent themselves or hire a less experienced attorney are often scared into taking a plea deal in domestic violence cases. While a plea deal may result in little or no jail time, a domestic violence conviction will cause the individual to lose gun ownership rights.

Brian Joslyn of Joslyn Law Firm is an experienced domestic violence defense attorney. He has years of experience defending individuals accused and charged with domestic violence, domestic assault, aggravated assault, sexual battery, and rape. He is widely respected by the special domestic violence prosecutors and criminal court judges.

From the initial consultation, the team of attorneys will begin developing the strongest defense strategies to obtain the best possible results in your case. The Joslyn Law Firm aggressively defends individuals throughout Franklin County, including Columbus, Sunbury, Dublin, Reynoldsburg, Worthington, Groveport, Plain City, Heath, Granville, Baltimore, Bremen, South Bloomfield, New Holland, Commercial Point, and surrounding areas.

Contact the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 or (888) USA-RIGHTS for a free evaluation of your domestic violence case.

References: Voisine v. United States

 

Second Amendment and Gun Rights of Ohio Residents

Ohio Lawmakers Amend Gun Crime LawsThe Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which grants Americans the right to keep and bear arms, has been a constant topic of debate since it’s ratification in 1791.

Originally, construed to allow individuals the right to keep and bear arms connected to necessary militia service, the United States Supreme Court held in 2008 that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms unconnected with service in a militia. Further, the Supreme Court held that an individual may use arms for traditionally, lawful purposes, such as self-defense within a home.

Despite the Supreme Court’s relatively recent clarification of the Second Amendment, there continues to be much debate regarding gun ownership, including whether a person should have an individual right to own a firearm, whether individual firearm ownership contributes to gun violence, and whether additional restrictions should be placed on individuals to prevent mass shootings and other catastrophic events.

Why is there a debate in the first place?

There involves considerable debate regarding the Second Amendment for multiple reasons. First, the Second Amendment was drafted over 225 years ago. The United States was an entirely different place in 1791. The American Revolutionary War, during which the United States ceded from Great Britain, ended only eight years prior. The United States had been involved in a domestic war called the Northwest Indian War against numerous Native American tribes for five years. Also, the United States only consisted of fourteen states.

Regular, non-military Americans, living in this new country with wild and unchartered terrain, were often the only line of defense in their town or village during times of war. This historical context has caused many persons to believe the drafters of the Second Amendment intended for individuals to keep and bear arms connected to a militia only.

Advocates of gun restrictions and limitations often assert contemporary Americans are no longer responsible for the defense of their towns and villages. Americans have law enforcement and military personnel to respond to emergency situations and threats to security.

Pro-gun advocates (persons who support the individual right to bear arms) assert the nature of threats have changed since 1791. While an individual is not responsible for the protection of an entire village or town, he or she is responsible for self-defense and the defense of their home.

Gun Rights in Ohio

The state of Ohio would be considered a “Pro-Gun” state. There are few restrictions and prohibitions regarding gun ownership in the state of Ohio.  The Ohio State Constitution provides:

The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.

An individual age 21 or older may purchase handgun without a permit in the state of Ohio. Without a license the individual may only carry the weapon at his or her home. To carry or possess the weapon outside of the home, the individual must obtain a permit. Ohio is considered a “traditional open carry state”, which means with valid permit a gun owner may openly carry a firearm in public or engage in concealed carry, where the firearm is not visible to the casual observer.

To qualify for a permit, an individual must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Must be at least 21 years of age
  2. Must be an Ohio resident for 45 days
  3. Must be a resident in home county for 30 days
  4. Must complete required education course and obtain a certificate
  5. Pass a criminal background check
  6. Pass a mental competency check

Common Firearm Related Charges

Despite the pro-gun laws in Ohio, there are several criminal charges that may result from unlawful possession of a firearm, including:

  • Improper Discharge of a Firearm: While Ohio does have relatively relaxed gun laws, there are several places an individual may not fire or discharge a firearm, including the occupied habitation of another, a school zone, within 1,000 feet of a school building (with intent to cause physical harm, panic, or fear), over a cemetery, and a public road or highway.
  • Using Firearms While Intoxicated: An individual may not possess or use a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is not required that the individual be intoxicated or have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08.
  • Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon: Generally, an individual convicted of violent felony or any drug-related offense or under the indictment of a violent felony or any drug related offense may not possess a firearm

Other Persons Not Permitted to Possess a Firearm

There are also specific classes of persons who may not possess a firearm. Should the following classes of persons be found in possession of a firearm, he or she will be subject to criminal charges:

  • Drug dependent person
  • Chronic Alcoholic
  • Person who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent
  • Any person who has been committed to a mental institution
  • A fugitive from justice

Conclusion

The debate regarding gun rights and the limitations with undoubtedly continue. To avoid criminal charges, it is important to be knowledge about the constant legislative changes.

Brian Joslyn of Joslyn Law Firm is an experience criminal defense attorney and member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He proudly represents clients facing all types of firearm offenses, including carry a concealed weapon, improper discharge of a weapon, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Brian Joslyn and the attorneys of the Joslyn Law Firm represent individuals facing firearms charges throughout Ohio, including Franklin County, Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County.

If you are facing any firearms charges, contact the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a confidential review of your case.

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.

Pro-Marijuana Committee Collecting Signatures to Change Expungement Law

A pro-marijuana organization in Ohio plans to begin collecting signatures for a proposed law that would allow certain cannabis crimes to be expunged once the controlled substance becomes legal in The Buckeye State.

ResponsibleOhio, a political action committee trying to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in Ohio, has drafted what is referred to as the Fresh Start Act. This would allow those convicted of certain marijuana offenses to have those records expunged or destroyed, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The Ohio Ballot Board voted 3-2 Wednesday to give ResponsibleOhio permission to begin collecting the necessary 91,677 signatures of Ohio voters to move forward in the statute process. If approved, the expungement language would be separate from its original proposal to legalize marijuana.

The initial amendment would create the Ohio Marijuana Control Commission to regulate the acquisition, growth, cultivation, extraction, production, processing, manufacture, testing, distribution, retail sales, licensing and taxation of the substance and related products.

It also would legalize the use of medical marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions if a medical marijuana certification has been provided by the patient’s treating physician. Other states have included conditions such as cancer, AIDS and glaucoma.

Additionally, it would allow marijuana and marijuana-infused products for personal use in amounts of one ounce or less by people 21 years of age or older. It also would make it legal for those 21 years old or older to purchase, possess, transport, use and share one ounce or less with another person 21 years old or older.

Under the Fresh Start Act, those who have been convicted of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana could fight to have the record of the offense sealed. Currently, according to Ohio Revised Code § 2925.11, possession of less than 100 grams is a minor misdemeanor possession offense.

This minor misdemeanor currently is punishable by a fine up to $150. A first offense likely would not result in a jail sentence. Although it is a misdemeanor, a conviction could have serious consequences on a person’s future, and expunging the record could be beneficial.

Some argue the Fresh Start Act is not needed because minor possession offenses already can be sealed. In some cases, however, record sealing does not protect the person’s past enough. The information still can be found through background checks and internet searches. Expungement would be more thorough.

According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2953.32, a person currently may be eligible to seal his or her criminal record if he or she is a first time offender or a misdemeanor offender who has completed all of his or her sentencing requirements. A misdemeanor record would have to be sealed one year after completing the requirements.

Once the signatures have been verified, the Ohio General Assembly has four months to act on the law, according to the Columbus Dispatch. If the law is changed, rejected or not acted on, the committee would need to collect another 91,677 signatures to put the law before voters on the statewide ballot.

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

Brightly colorful fireworks in the night sky

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.

Constructing Defenses Against Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Crime Charges

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When a person is accused of sexual assault or another sexual offense, he or she often is faced with the challenge of proving his or her innocence long after the charges have been dismissed. This has been true for several college students in recent years.

According to a Fox News article, an Amherst College student accused another student of rape 21 months after the alleged incident. The person accused of the offense was expelled from the campus, despite evidence showing the act was consensual, according to the article.

In this scenario, only a finding that he was “more likely than not” guilty was necessary. This seems to be common in many campus procedures as schools become more determined to crack down on sexual assault accusations.

Another student who was accused of raping a fellow classmate at Columbia University is suing the university, claiming she harassed him. According to the article, a professor at the university allowed the alleged victim to carry a mattress on campus as part of a senior art project concerning the alleged offense, even after the student was cleared of rape charges.

In some cases, criminal investigations have found the alleged attackers to be innocent, but the university had a different opinion. A student at University of North Dakota in 2010 was charged with sexually assaulting a fellow student, found guilty by a campus tribunal and later expelled. Months later, police charged the alleged victim for deliberately falsifying the charges.

Any time there is an accusation of sexual battery or another sexual crime, building a defense as soon as possible is critical to fighting the charges. The most effective way to weaken the prosecution’s case could be to do so before the case even goes to trial. This also could help in any administrative matters regarding the charges.

In many sexual assault cases, especially those involving incidences at higher education institutes, it is the word of the victim against the word of the accused. Proving a person’s innocence seems like a daunting task, but there are several strategies that could be used.

One of the most commonly used defenses to accusations of a sex crime is that the sexual activity that took place was consensual. This is common in these higher education cases. Sometimes students will partake in consensual sex and the alleged victim will claim that he or she was sexually assaulted.

Other times, the alleged accuser and his or her criminal defense attorney can challenge the word of the alleged victim. If the victim is lying about the offense, the defense could dispute his or her claim of the act. Having an alibi could be beneficial in this defense.

In some scenarios, the defense could admit the sexual act occurred, but argue it was not done illegally. Although this sounds complex, it could be done. Examples of this include:

  • The alleged offender did not use force, threats or violence
  • The alleged offender and the alleged victim were married at the time of the offense
  • The defendant is accused of statutory rape, but the alleged victim lied about his or her age

In order to determine what defense option is best for you, it is important to contact a sex crimes defense attorney immediately. Brian Joslyn can analyze your case and choose the defense option that gives you the best chance of avoiding the penalties associated with your alleged offense. Call (614) 444-1900 to schedule a free consultation immediately.

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.

Proposed Bills Aim to Change Heroin Laws and Decrease Overdoses in Ohio

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Lawmakers in Ohio are proposing legislation this session aimed at curbing the use of heroin and the abuse of some medically prescribed drugs with the goal of reducing the number of drug overdoses in the state.

One bill directly related to overdoses is the Good Samaritan Bill. The bill, according to Cincinnati.com, would prevent law enforcement from incriminating a person for drug possession if he or she calls emergency services to report an overdose.

A similar bill failed to pass in the previous Ohio General Assembly session because some lawmakers feared it would enable drug use, according to the article. However, others have argued it is needed because drug users sometimes fail to call for help if a companion overdoses.

The bill, however, would have some restrictions. For example, so as to not assist those who could potentially be dealing or selling drugs, the law would not protect those who have more than one gram of heroine, according to the article.

Also, if a person who called for medical help is on probation at the time for a prior offense, he or she would not necessarily be sentenced to jail. A treatment option would be considered as an alternate to incarceration.

Another bill making its way through the legislature is looking to decrease the minimum amount of heroin involved in a trafficking in heroin or possession of heroin violation that could make the offense a felony of the first degree, which is necessary to classify an offender as a major drug offender.

According to Cincinnati.com, House Bill 171 is looking to reduce by 60 percent the amount of heroin that could lead to an 11-year incarceration period.  Under current law, a person who possesses between 50 and 2,500 doses of heroin will be charged with a first-degree felony. This could mean between three and 11 years in prison.

However, the proposed bill would decrease the upper limit to 1,000 doses or 100 grams, which would be similar to penalties for cocaine offenses. Some supporters of the law argue having fewer people incarcerated means more money could be spent on treatment services.

House Bill 4, which also has been proposed in an effort to decrease drug overdoses, would modify existing laws governing the authority to dispense or furnish naloxone, which is used for heroin or other opioid overdoses.

Under House Bill 4, prescribers do not have to be present, which would allow the drug to be more widely distributed to people and those close to drug users who are at risk of an overdose, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

A naloxone bill that the legislature passed last session increased access to the drug. Now, some programs throughout the state distribute the substance. However, this bill would make it more accessible.

Additionally, another bill could require insurance companies to pay for special formulas of pain pills that cannot be crushed, even if they are more expensive than a generic brand. This could be a way to help reduce the abuse of pain medication, some supports say.

Even though changes have been proposed in the legislature, current laws have harsh punishments for the possession and distribution of heroin. If you are charged with either offense, you could face series penalties. Contact Columbus heroin defense lawyer Brian Joslyn at (614) 444-1900 to learn more about how to fight heroin charges.

Ohio Organizations Pushing for More Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Data

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Juvenile justice groups throughout Ohio are advocating for the creation of a more comprehensive statewide juvenile justice data system that would track more than just the number of cases being handled.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, each Ohio county has its own method of how it collects data, what it collects and the way it tracks data related to juvenile cases.  The state Supreme Court requires each county court to collect and report basic information about the number of delinquency cases heard each year and how many have been cleared.

However, the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Ohio and the Ohio Juvenile Justice Alliance want an improved system across the state. Erin Davies, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Ohio, said the issue with the current data that is being collected is there are no demographics, ages, race or ethnicity listed in the cases, according to the article.

Juveniles accused of crimes in Columbus likely would be handled in the Franklin County Juvenile Court. Franklin County is one of eight counties in the state that will join the national Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The goal of the initiative is to reduce unnecessary detention of juveniles, and that is based heavily on analyzing data collection. According to the article, Franklin County soon will upgrade its technology to have a better tracking system, which could begin in approximately 18 months.

In Ohio, juvenile offenders could be labeled juvenile delinquents. These generally are children who violate the laws of Ohio or federal laws that would be an offense if committed by an adult, except a juvenile traffic offender according to Ohio Revised Code § 2152.02.

Juveniles who commit certain acts at certain ages, but who are not transferred to an adult court for the offense, could be considered serious youthful offenders under Ohio Revised Code § 2152.02. These offenders could be taken into custody and either brought to a detention center or released to a guardian.

A date for an adjudicatory hearing must be set within 72 hours of the child being detained. At this hearing, the court will determine if the juvenile has violated a law that would be an offense as adult and if the juvenile is required to be held in a detention center.

Juveniles have the right to have an attorney present throughout the proceedings and when they present their case to a judge. They can use evidence and witnesses to present their defense in the case. After an adjudicatory hearing, the juvenile judge will hold a hearing to determine a sentence.

Tracking the information related to juvenile cases could be important in learning beneficial ways to reform these offenders. Rather than simply punishing someone convicted of a crime, the juvenile system focuses or rehabilitation. This data could be informative as to the best ways to do it.