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

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.

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.