Driver in Fatal Christmas Eve Crash Intoxicated by Alcohol, Marijuana

Columbus Drunk Driving Lawyer

On March 13, WBNS-TV reported that the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said it determined the at-fault driver in a fatal Christmas Eve crash on Interstate 270 (I-270) was intoxicated on multiple substances. The crash occurred on I-270 at U.S. Route 62 on December 24 around 3:30 p.m. when an eastbound black 2000 Ford Explorer lost control of the vehicle, crossed the median into the westbound lanes of I-270, and was struck by a Honda Civic.

Tests showed the 38-year-old driver of the Explorer pronounced dead at the scene was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. The 39-year-old driver and a 41-year-old front passenger of the Civic also died at the scene, and an 8-year-old rear passenger died at Nationwide Children’s Hospital on Christmas Day.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the driver of the Explorer had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.20—more than twice the legal limit. The sheriff’s office told WBNS that no criminal charges could be filed due to the fact that the Explorer driver was killed in the crash.

Columbus Drugged Driving Attorney

Drugged driving (commonly referred to as DUID) offenses in Ohio can be much more complex than traditional OVI crimes involving alleged offenders who are under the influence of alcohol. Ohio Revised Code § 4511.19(A)(1)(j) states that an alleged offender can be charged with OVI if he or she operates any vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley within Ohio, if, at the time of the operation, he or she has a concentration of any of the following controlled substances or metabolites of a controlled substance in his or her whole blood, blood serum or plasma, or urine that equals or exceeds any of the following:

  • Urine concentration of at least 500 ng/ml of amphetamine or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 100 ng/ml of amphetamine;
  • Urine concentration of at least 150 ng/ml of cocaine or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 50 ng/ml of cocaine;
  • Urine concentration of at least 150 ng/ml of cocaine metabolite or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 50 ng/ml of cocaine metabolite;
  • Urine concentration of at least 2,000 ng/ml of heroin or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 50 ng/ml of heroin;
  • Urine concentration of at least 10 ng/ml of heroin metabolite (6-monoacetyl morphine) or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 10 ng/ml of heroin metabolite (6-monoacetyl morphine);
  • Urine concentration of at least 25 ng/ml of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 10 ng/ml of LSD;
  • Urine concentration of at least 10 ng/ml of marijuana (referred to in the Ohio Revised Code as “marihuana”) or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 2 ng/ml of marijuana;
  • Either the alleged offender is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them, and, as measured by gas chromatography mass spectrometry, the alleged offender has a urine concentration of at least 15 ng/ml of marijuana metabolite or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 5 ng/ml of marijuana metabolite; or as measured by gas chromatography mass spectrometry, the alleged offender has a urine concentration of at least 35 ng/ml of marijuana metabolite or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 50 ng/ml of marijuana metabolite;
  • Urine concentration of at least 500 ng/ml of methamphetamine or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 100 ng/ml of methamphetamine; or
  • Urine concentration of at least 25 ng/ml of phencyclidine (PCP) or whole blood or blood serum or plasma concentration of at least 10 ng/ml of PCP.

Much like alcohol-based OVI offenses, drugged driving crimes are usually first-degree misdemeanors. Had the driver of the Explorer survived this crash, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office could have filed felony aggravated vehicular homicide charges.

If you were arrested for allegedly being under the influence of any controlled substance while operating a motor vehicle in Franklin County, it is in your best interest to immediately contact [[$firm]]. Columbus criminal defense lawyer Brian Joslyn understands that having a controlled substance in one’s system does not necessarily mean that person was under the influence of an illegal drug at the time of an alleged offense, and he fights to help clients achieve the most favorable outcomes to these cases that result in the fewest possible penalties.

Annie’s Law Awaits Governor’s Stamp of Approval

Inspired by the 2013 incident where a repeat drunk driving offender hit and killed Annie Rooney as she rode her bike, Ohio lawmakers are waiting for the final go-ahead from Governor Kasich. House Bill 388, better known as “Annie’s Law,” purports to prevent repeat DUI offenders from putting other drivers and pedestrians in danger by imposing more strict precautions on repeat offenders.

If Governor John Kasich approves of this bill, all automobiles owned by DUI offenders will require ignition interlock devices. These devices will require the driver to pass a Breathalyzer test to operate the vehicle.

Also, this bill will require cameras to be installed in these vehicles to record whether or not DUI offenders are complying with the Breathalyzer test. Furthermore, the bill proposes a GPS tracking system to keep record of the car’s location.

Both chambers have voted on the bill. The bill now requires Governor Kasich’s approval before becoming law.

Understanding the Legality of Sobriety Checkpoints in Ohio

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Ever since Ohio State University quarterback J.T. Barrett was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while impaired (OVI) and illegal backing near a campus-area sobriety checkpoint on Halloween, there has been increased conversation throughout the Buckeye State about what is and is not legal when it comes to these driving under the influence (DUI) roadblocks.

A November 6 story in the Columbus Dispatch was entitled, “Are DUI checks fair?” A story entitled, “Stop that nabbed OSU quarterback common” was published in the Toledo Blade on November 16 .

The basic constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints was upheld in the United States Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in the case of Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz. In that case, the Court voted 6-3 that DUI roadblocks satisfied the Fourth Amendment standard of reasonable search and seizure because the state has a “substantial government interest” to prevent drunk driving.

Sobriety checkpoints still need to satisfy other requirements in order to be considered legal. In Ohio, police need to have a uniformly random method of stopping vehicles—such as every third or every fifth automobile.

Additionally, public notice also must be provided regarding the planned checkpoint. The Ohio State Highway Patrol will typically provide a notice of the general date, location, and time frame of a roadblock roughly one week in advance with the exact location and times being announced within 24 hours of the actual checkpoint.

One the most common questions following Barrett’s arrest though concerned people’s rights to turn around to avoid roadblocks. A motorist does indeed have the right to turn around to avoid a checkpoint—assuming that he or she can do so with a legal traffic maneuver.

In many cases, police set up roadblocks in locations specifically such that legal turnarounds are essentially impossible. In Barrett’s case, for example, he was cited for illegal backing as well as OVI.

It is important to remember that even when a person believes that he or she has legally turned around to avoid a sobriety checkpoint, another officer could be stationed nearby specifically to note such evasion attempts. Any failure to signal or other minor traffic infraction can then be used as a separate reason to stop a motorist and possibly lead to an arrest for OVI.

Of course, the absolute safest way to avoid any issue with a roadblock in Ohio is to not drive drunk. With many people likely to be partaking in alcoholic beverages at a variety of functions this holiday season, it is in everybody’s best interests to make sure they have designated drivers or alternate forms of transportation arranged in advance of their evening plans.

Whether you were arrested for OVI at a sobriety checkpoint or any other location in Ohio, you should immediately contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Columbus, Ohio.

Police can violate the constitutional rights of alleged offenders in a multitude of ways—not limited solely to roadblocks, and a knowledgeable attorney can investigate to determine whether any such transgressions could lead to your criminal charges being reduced or dismissed.

Penalties in Felony Domestic Violence Cases in Ohio

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One Ohio county is changing the way in which domestic violence cases are handled and prosecuted. A court created nearly four years ago has seen success in helping those facing felony domestic violence charges get treatment rather than an automatic jail or prison sentence.

According to WKYC, Summit County created the state’s first Felony Domestic Violence Court in 2011 in Akron. Since its inception it has seen several success stories. Similar to other diversion courts, offenders are granted the option of completing a specialty program instead of harsh punishments.

The goal of the program is to focus on getting to the real reason the abuse occurred, which includes holding the person accountable for his or her actions, according to the report. This can include a 52-week batter intervention program.

In these cases, the victim has to agree to allow his or her abuser to enter into the program. Once in the program, a participant could be required to abstain from drug and alcohol use, regularly submit to drug and alcohol testing, agree to be given employment assistance and be monitored through a prosecutor and a probation officer.

They also could be required to attend weekly group meetings with others who are dealing with domestic violence-related issues.  This is part of the way in which the program works to help the person address why he or she committed the actions leading to the domestic violence charges.

Judge Paul Gallagher, who is in charge of handling the cases, and prosecutor Angela Alexander have said they have about a 75 percent success rate of defendants who complete the program and do not re-offend, according to the report.

Although every domestic violence case in Ohio can be handled differently, some could require mandatory minimums sentences. The punishment for cases in the Franklin County area can change depending on several factors, including where the case is handled, the alleged offense, the type of victim and the severity of the crime.

Generally, when a person is charged with a fifth-degree felony domestic violence offense, he or she could face imprisonment up to one year, fines up to $2,500 or both. This charge usually occurs if a person is accused of domestic assault or violating a protective order.

Domestic assault, menacing by stalking and endangering children all could be punishable as felonies of the fourth degree in Ohio. Penalties for these types of offenses can include imprisonment for up to 18 months, fines up to $5,000 or both.

Third-degree domestic violence felony offenses could include violations of protection orders, sexual battery, assault and endangering children. These generally could be punishable by up to five years in prison, fines up to $10,000 or both.

When a person is charged with a second-degree felony, he or she could expect harsher penalties, including up to eight years in prison, fines up to $15,000 or both. Offenses in this category could include sexual battery and endangering children.

Although a diversion program may not be available to felony domestic violence offenders in the Franklin County area, an experienced Columbus domestic violence attorney at Joslyn Law Firm can help you get a favorable outcome in your case. No matter the situation, we can fight to have your charges reduced or even dropped. Call (614) 444-1900 or contact us online to learn more about your options in Ohio domestic violence cases.

What You Should Know About Marijuana Possession in Ohio

MJ-colorful bgUnlike some states, possession of marijuana is still a crime in Ohio, even if it is used for medicinal purposes. Indeed, conviction of possession of marijuana can lead to incarceration and, in some cases, felony charges. In addition to possible fines and incarceration, conviction of possession of any amount of marijuana will result in the suspension of your drivers’ license for at least six months (up to 5 years maximum).  It is also a violation of federal law.  Keep reading to learn more about possession and the implication of a conviction in Ohio.

What is “Possession”?

Possession is not as clear-cut a concept as it might initially appear. You do not have to have marijuana on your person, in your car or in your home in order to “possess” it. If it is kept in an airport locker and you have the key, for example, a strong case might exist for possession if you knew what the substance was and that it was in the locker. On the other hand, you might not be considered to have possessed marijuana even if it is found in your car if it was stashed under the passenger’s seat by someone else without your knowledge.  Keep in mind that possession of marijuana includes the cultivation of marijuana plants.

Minor Misdemeanor Charges

In Ohio, possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is considered a minor misdemeanor that will result in no criminal record and no jail time.  However, a fine of up to $150 may be imposed.

Misdemeanor Charges

Possession of 100 – 200 grams of marijuana is considered misdemeanor possession and can result in jail time of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $250.

Felony Charges

Conviction of possession of over 200 grams of marijuana is a felony that results in progressively more severe penalties, depending on how much you possessed. Incarceration ranges from six months (for up to 1,000 grams) to eight years (for over 40,000 grams). There is no mandatory minimum incarceration for possession of up to 20,000 grams, although some incarceration is likely for large amounts.

Hashish and Concentrates Such as “Hash Oil”

Possession of marijuana derivatives such as hashish and hash oil is punishable in much the same way as marijuana, except that the amounts required to trigger a given penalty are lower due to the increased potency of these substances.

Enhanced Penalties

In Ohio, enhanced penalties apply to possession of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, within 100 feet of a juvenile, or by a defendant with a previous drug conviction.

 

Marijuana Paraphernalia

You can be ticketed for any marijuana paraphernalia found in your possession, possibly even including rolling papers used to package a “joint.”  As long as the paraphernalia was not offered for sale, this is not a criminal offense. Although it carries no jail time, a fine of up to $150 may be imposed.

Defenses

A skilled marijuana defense attorney can rely on any number of possible defenses depending on the facts of your individual case. He may have evidence excluded for an illegal search, for example, leaving the prosecution with no case against you. Alternatively, he may argue that you were not the one in actual possession of the marijuana since you were unaware of its presence or nature.

Proposed Bill Could Change Regulations for Concealed-Handgun Permits

New legislation passed in the Ohio Senate could create substantial changes in the state’s rules and procedures for issuing concealed-handgun permits if the law is signed into effect by the governor.

House Bill 234, as approved by the Senate, ultimately would make it easier for Ohio residents to legally carry a concealed weapon. The bill cleared the Senate 24-6, according to Cleveland.com, and now it awaits approval from the Gov. John Kasich.

One of the most highly disputed parts of the bill is the change in training hours needed for a license. In Ohio, residents currently are required to have 12 hours of training courses to obtain a concealed-carry permit. If the bill is passed, the number of hours would be reduced to eight.

However, within that eight hours, at least two would need to be in-person training classes that would consists of range time and live-fire training. The classes also would have to allow for a combination of in-person and online training.

Additionally, the proposed law no longer would require an applicant be a resident of Ohio for at least 45 days before applying for the license. Currently the resident has to live in the state for 45 days and the county in which the applicant seeks the concealed handgun license, or a county adjacent to that county, for at least 30 days.

This means, under the proposed law, a person who moves to Ohio could apply for a license within a week of residing in the state. The new bill also proposes allowing a person who does not live in the state the opportunity to apply for or renew a license if he or she is employed in Ohio.

For instance, if a person lives in Northern Kentucky, but works in Cincinnati, he or she would be able to apply for a concealed-handgun license in Ohio under the new law. This would allow the Kentucky resident to legally carry his or her handgun while employed in the state.

If a person moves to Ohio with a valid permit from a state that recognizes Ohio’s licenses, it automatically would be recognized, under the proposed law. Currently, this only happens when the attorney general enters into a written agreement with another state.

The proposed law also removes certain offenses that currently make an applicant ineligible for a license, including offenses relating to the regulation of business practices and misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment for two years or less.

If a person is in possession of a concealed handgun without a valid permit, he or she could face criminal charges. According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.12, a person can be charged with carrying concealed weapons if he or she knowingly carries or has concealed on their body or ready to use:

  • A deadly weapon besides a handgun
  • A handgun other than a dangerous ordnance
  • A dangerous ordnance

Carrying a concealed handgun without a valid permit could be punishable by a minor misdemeanor, misdemeanor of the first degree, felony of the fourth degree or felony of the third degree. Several factors are involved in determining the severity of the charge, including if the person had been convicted of a previous similar offense.

If signed into law by the governor, it would take effect in 90 days. For a full description of the proposed legislation, read the House Bill 234 analysis here.

Proposed Bill Could Require More People To Register As Sex Offenders

A bill proposed in the Ohio legislature last month could require people convicted of public indecency to register as sex offenders if children were their intended targets.

Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, introduced Senate Bill 358 in September in response to an incident earlier this year in Baltimore, Ohio, according to Cleveland.com. Police caught a 46-year-old man flashing school buses from the window of his second story apartment. The man stood naked in front of his window as students left the school, the website reported.

An act of public indecency is a crime that typically is committed “for the thrill” of the experience. However, law enforcement takes it very seriously and it can be either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Ohio Revised Code 2907.09 classifies public indecency in three ways:

  • Exposing private parts or sexual organs
  • Participating in sexual conduct or masturbation
  • Engaging in activity that appears to be sexual in nature
  • A person could be charged with public indecency if he or she committed any of those acts. However, a conviction could be harder to achieve. The prosecution would have to prove the act was done purposefully, or even recklessly.

    A public indecency conviction under Ohio law currently does not require registration on the state’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification system. However, Senate Bill 358 would add “purposely” exposing one’s private parts and the other two offenses — if children were the targets — to the list of offenses requiring registration as a Tier I sex offender.

    There are three different types of sex offenders in Ohio, and they are classified in tiers based on the offenses that were committed. The requirements for registered sex offenders differ depending on which tier they are classified under.

    Sex offenders under Tier I are required to register for 15 years. They must report to the local sheriff’s office and re-register once a year. They will not be subjected to neighborhood and community notification, in which a form is mailed to all neighbors letting them know that person is a registered sex offender.

    When an individual registers as a sex offender, he or she is required to provide the local sheriff’s office with their full name, address, a picture, details of the offense they committed and other relevant information. That person also must report where he or she works, all vehicles he or she owns and any email address in his or her control.

    The label of a sex offender is a serious punishment and it could include a lifetime of repercussions. In Ohio, those who have been registered as sex offenders will have a series of restrictions that could affect their ability to find a job, secure safe housing and even have quality personal relationships.

    If the bill earns support before the end of the legislative session in December, there could be major changes to the way public indecency cases are handled. The state could see an increase in people being listed as sex offenders. All criminal charges should be taken seriously, especially if the result could mean a lifetime of limitations.

    For more information about the proposed legislation, view Senate Bill 358.

    Ohio Law Enforcement Intensifies Focus on Drug Trafficking

     

    In 2013, Ohio troopers have increased their focus on intercepting drug shipments, and their increased focus has led to a substantial increase in the amount of drug related arrests. Drug arrests have increased 19 percent across Ohio in the first six months of this year as compared to 2012. Franklin County currently leads the state in felony drug trafficking arrests. The majority of arrests involve marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

    Drug traffickers have become aware of the increased focus on drug crimes in Ohio. Therefore, they have changed their tactics in order to increase the odds of successful deliveries. Drug dealers are breaking big loads down into smaller loads involving multiple shipments. This is what has contributed to the increased number of arrests.

    Even though many dealers are cutting back on the size of shipments they make, Ohio troopers are still seizing a few large shipments from time to time. This year, Ohio troopers made a single bust involving 17,000 illicit prescription drug pills, and followed it up in July with a record seizure of 30 pounds of Heroin. Heroin has become the most commonly used opiate, seeing it’s arrest double this year.

    The emphasis on drug crimes and taking time to interact with motorists for hints of possible drug possession have made Ohio a risky state for drug traffickers to operate in. Partnerships with other state police forces and federal drug agents with other agencies, such as Columbus police and the Franklin County sheriff’s office, are paying off. A team effort on June 6 through June 8 led to 87 drug arrests and 72 felony cases.

    In Ohio, all controlled substances are categorized in Schedules. The Schedules are based on how addictive each drug is, and whether or not the drug has any medical purposes. The schedules range from one to five, with Schedule one being the most serious and addictive drugs and Schedule five being the least serious and addictive. The potential punishments for individuals who took part in drug trafficking usually depend on the Schedule the drug falls under, the amount of drugs, as well as where the drugs were trafficked. Depending on these circumstances, an individual’s prison sentence can range from six months, to up to 10 years, with potential fines of up to $20,000.

    It is important for any individual facing drug charges to consult with an experienced Franklin County Drug lawyer who can advise them on the best course of action. If an individual is making informed legal decisions, it will increase the likelihood that he or she will be able to avoid being behind bars for a significant amount of time. A criminal defense attorney can thoroughly analyze the facts surrounding a case, find inaccuracies and errors made my law enforcement, and use them build a strong defense. The prosecution often relies heavily on circumstantial evidence to build their cases. A skilled Columbus defense attorney can use that evidence to create reasonable doubt that could lead to a reduced sentence, or an all-out dismissal of the case.

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