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.

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.

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.

Violent Crime Incidences Decreasing Throughout Ohio, FBI reports

Ohio reported more than 30,000 incidents of violent crime in 2013, but according to a recent report from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, The Buckeye State still had a decrease in violent offenses compared to the previous year.

The FBI’s annual report released late last year shows Ohio’s violent crime rate in 2013 dropped more than 8 percent from the previous year, according to Cleveland.com. The state reported nearly 32,000 violent crime incidents, compared to the nearly 35,000 from the previous year.

Violent crime in this report is composed of four offenses:  murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. These offenses are considered some of the most heinous crimes in Ohio, and they carry some of the harshest penalties.

The state recorded 455 cases of murder and non-negligent manslaughter in 2013, according to the FBI report.  Murder, an unclassified felony, is one of the most heavily penalized crimes in Ohio, carrying a prison sentence of up to life in prison, a fine of up to $25,000 or both.

A person can be charged with murder if he or she causes the death of another person on purpose or intentionally, or if he or she causes the death of another person during the commission of a felony of the second or first degree.

For example, if a person deliberately and fatally shoots another with the intent to kill him or her, the shooter would face murder charges. Additionally, if a person fatally shoots someone while in the process of kidnapping, which is a first-degree felony, he or she also could face murder charges.

Ohio reported more than 6,800 incidences of rape last year, according to the FBI report.  A person can be charged with rape in Ohio if he or she engages in sexual conduct with another person when the offender purposely makes the other person submit by force or threat of force, according to Ohio Revised Code § 2907.02.

Rape charges also could apply if a person engages in sexual conduct with someone who is not a spouse, or is a spouse but lives separately, and:

  • The other person is younger than 13 years old
  • He or she substantially impairs that person’s judgment or control  to prevent resistance through the use of drugs, controlled substances or intoxicant by force, threat of force or deception
  • The alleged offender knows or has reason to believe the other person’s ability to resist or consent is impaired by mental or physical condition, such as being intoxicated, or advanced age

Additionally, life in prison is a penalty a person could face if he or she is charged with rape, a first-degree felony, if the victim is younger than 10 years old. If the victim is compelled through force, threat or a controlled substance, the offender would not face less than 5 years in prison.

Robbery can be a felony of the first, second or third degree, according to Ohio Revised Code § 2911.02. The state reported more than 14,000 incidences in 2013. If a person commits a theft and has a deadly weapon, causes or threatens harm or uses force against someone during the crime, the charge could be upgraded to robbery.

The state also reported more than 14,000 aggravated assault crimes for 2013. Aggravated assault is a less serious violent crime, although it still is a felony offense. A person can be charged with the crime if he or she causes or attempts to cause harm to another person, with or without a weapon, according to Ohio Revised Code § 2903.12.

Any time a person faces criminal charges, the allegations should be taken seriously. However, facing charges for a violent crime can have a significant impact on a person’s future. A conviction could change his or her life forever. Even being charged with the offense could have an impact on the social and professional aspects of a person’s life.

If you are facing charges for a violent crime in Ohio, contact an experienced Columbus violent crime defense attorney at Joslyn Law Firm. We can help you through the grueling process and make sure all options are available to you in your defense. Call (614) 444-1900 to discuss your unique case.

Columbus Attorney Discusses Ohio Supreme Court Order to Require Legal Consult for Juveniles

In what can be a complex system for anyone, the Ohio legal system can both overwhelm and intimidate those who do not have a strong grasp of the subject. This is particularly the case for minors accused of juvenile offenses. The vast majority will be unaware of their rights and the legal protection that is afforded to them. This fact was not lost in the Ohio Supreme Court last month, when they ruled in favor of requiring certain juvenile offenders facing possible detention to consult with legal counsel before they decide to waive their right to a lawyer.

This approval of the recent rule change proposal has made Ohio a leader in the march towards legal justice for citizens of the United States. Providing a requirement for minors to be afforded the opportunity to take an assessment of their situation with the advice of an attorney will allow for a fairer and more just process. Additionally, the ruling also requires judges to advise juveniles, who could potentially be detained but did not commit the most serious offenses, about the risks of representing themselves. This is particularly beneficial for a group of individuals who likely do not have even a basic understanding of Ohio law.

The specific ruling itself does not require consultation for small offenses, such as petty theft or shoplifting, but does afford this option for more serious criminal offenses, like assault.  This means that a minor can waive their right to an attorney without discussing their decision for a vandalism charge, but will be required to discuss the possible ramifications of representing themselves  with a qualified attorney if that offense is robbery, for example. Considering that robbery can lead to a second-degree felony conviction (Ohio Revised Code §2911.01), the necessity for legal counsel is apparent. This simple and long overdue revision to the Ohio criminal process can help make a big difference in the eventual outcome of many juvenile cases.

Although the Supreme Court has the final say, they had to consider both the support and opposition to such a ruling. The supporters, primarily youth advocates, pushed to require all juvenile offenders an automatic consultation, whereas the opposition, primarily judges, were against a blanket requirement, stating that it would lead to cost issues and a drain on court resources.

The issue of cost is a very important one, considering the economic climate we are currently in, but limiting resources, which could compromise a fair and just criminal process of juvenile offenders, on the worry that it may lead to a cost burden, is shortsighted. Particularly for young people, proper information and an opportunity to make the right choice is something that needs to be looked at very closely. Not only are the brains of many of these alleged offenders still developing, their understanding of the rules and laws that we live by are also in a state of transition and growth. This is not an excuse for their actions, but they should be given an opportunity to approach the process in a correct and fair manner.

It tends to be in the formative years that an individual develops their view on life. If they are not given an opportunity to be properly advised, especially during a serious legal issue, there is a much higher possibility for recidivism. Lacking representation does not guarantee a disastrous outcome, but a youth offender is at a major disadvantage without the advice of a legal professional.

If is vital that every individual, no matter what the crime may be, to have the opportunity to discuss their legal problems with an attorney who can advised them on the best course of action. This will lead to a greater possibility that the individual will take the proper steps during the criminal process.  Juveniles will usually be less informed and less aware of the potential ramifications of their criminal actions, so having an Ohio criminal defense attorney present to help guide the individuals can mean the difference between detention and a new opportunity to become a productive member of society.