Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision reversing Defendant-doctor's convictions on the ground that the trial court should have granted Defendant's motion to suppress incriminating answers he gave during a medical board investigation, holding that the State may use incriminating answers given by a doctor during a medical board investigation in a subsequent criminal prosecution of the doctor.Defendant was convicted of three third-degree misdemeanor counts of sexual imposition. The court of appeals reversed the denial of Defendant's motion to suppress statements he had made to the medical board investigator as having been illegally compelled in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a medical license is a property right, the threatened loss of which is a form of coercion that can compromise the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination; (2) for coercion to be sufficient to warrant the suppression of statements made during a medical board investigative interview, the person making the statements must subjectively believe that asserting the privilege against self-incrimination could cause the loss of the person's medical license, and that belief must be objectively reasonable; and (3) Defendant's belief that he could lose his medical license if he refused to truthfully answer questions posed by the medical-board investigator was not objectively reasonable. View "State v. Gideon" on Justia Law

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In this appeal concerning two prison sentences that Defendant received related to 133.62 grams of powder containing detectable amounts of heroin and fentanyl the Supreme Court held that the sentence violated the double jeopardy protections of the Ohio and United States Constitutions.Defendant was sentenced on a first-degree felony conviction for trafficking in 133.62 grams of heroin and was separately sentenced on a second-degree felony conviction for trafficking in 133.62 grams of fentanyl. The court of appeals upheld the sentences, concluding that the General Assembly intended to separately punish an offender for trafficking in different types of drugs. The Supreme Court reversed, vacated the sentences, and remanded the case for resentencing, holding that the imposition of two punishments for the same, singular quantity of drugs violated Defendant's constitutional double jeopardy protections. View "State v. Pendleton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does not include the right to carry a firearm while intoxicated, and therefore, Ohio Rev. Code 2923.15 is not unconstitutional.Defendant was found guilty of violating section 2923.15(A), which provides that no person under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall carry or use any firearm. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued that section 2923.15 violates the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the constitutionality of section 2923.15 should be judged using intermediate scrutiny; and (2) the statute is constitutional under intermediate scrutiny. View "State v. Weber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's complaint for a writ of mandamus or a writ of prohibition against Judge Stephen McIntosh of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Appellant was found guilty of all counts in two criminal cases. Judge McIntosh sentenced Defendant. Appellant then filed an original action seeking a writ of mandamus or a writ of prohibition against Judge McIntosh alleging that the judge had improperly sentenced him. The court of appeals concluded that mandamus was not available because Appellant could have challenged his convictions in a direct appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellant's sentencing entry was voidable, mandamus will not lie. View "State ex rel. Romine v. McIntosh" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Court clarified what a sex offender whose offenses were committed in another state must prove pursuant to former Ohio Rev. Code 2950.09(F)(2) in order to successfully have the automatic sexual-predator classification under former section 2950.09(A) removed.The trial court here incorrectly determined that out-of-state offenders who are automatically required to register as sexual predators in Ohio must prove they are not likely to commit another sexually-oriented offense in order successfully to challenge the sexual-predator classification. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) first, an out-of-state offender challenging an automatic designation as a sexual predator under former R.C. 2950.09(A) must prove by clear and convincing evidence the reason for the imposition of the lifetime registration requirement in the other state; and (2) second, the offender must prove that the reason for the lifetime registration requirement is not substantially similar to a classification as a sexual predator under former Chapter 2950. View "State v. Lingle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ohio Rev. Code 2953.08(D)(3) does not preclude an appellate court from reviewing a sentence imposed by a trial court for aggravated murder when a defendant raises a constitutional claim regarding that sentence on appeal.A jury found Defendant guilty of aggravated murder and other offenses stemming from a fatal shooting when Defendant was seventeen years old. The trial court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after thirty years for the aggravated murder offense. On appeal, Defendant argued that his sentence violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Ohio Rev. Code 2953.08(D)(3) does not preclude an appellate court from reviewing a sentence imposed by a trial court for aggravated murder when a defendant raises a constitutional claim regarding that sentence on appeal; and (2) consistent with this Court's decision in State v. Long, 8 N.E.3d 890 (Ohio 2014), a trial court must separately consider the youth of a juvenile offender as a mitigating factor before imposing a life sentence under Ohio Rev. Code 2929.03 even if that sentence includes eligibility for parole. View "State v. Patrick" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 2941.51(D), a trial court in a criminal case may assess court-appointed counsel fees against a defendant without making explicit findings on the record to justify the fee assessment and that an order for payment of court-appointed counsel fees cannot be included as a portion of the defendant's sentence for a criminal conviction.On appeal from his conviction and sentence, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in ordering him to pay $130 toward appointed counsel fees. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the trial court could not order Defendant to pay the court-appointed counsel fees without first considering his financial ability to do so. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court has authority to impose court-appointed counsel fees; (2) section 2941.51(D) does not require the trial court to make explicit findings; and (3) court-appointed counsel fees cannot be imposed as part of a defendant's sentence. View "State v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, based on the plain language of Ohio Rev. Code 4511.33(A)(1), the definitions set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 4511.01 and the statutory scheme as a whole, the single solid white longitudinal line on the right-hand edge of a roadway - otherwise known as the fog line - does not prohibit "driving on" or "touching" the line.A highway patrol trooper stopped Defendant for failing to drive within the marked lanes, in violation of section 4511.33. Defendant was subsequently charged with a violation of section 4511.33 and of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the trooper did not have probable cause or a reasonable and articulable suspicion to initiate the stop. The trial court granted the motion to suppress. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Defendant did not cross the fog line and driving on the fog line or touching it is not prohibited under section 4511.33(A)(1), no violation occurred. View "State v. Turner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a condition of community control imposed on Defendant that Defendant "make all reasonable efforts to avoid impregnating a woman" during his sentence was not reasonably related to the goals of community control, nor was it reasonably tailored to avoid impinging Defendant's liberty no more than necessary.Defendant was convicted of several felony counts of nonsupport of dependents. Defendant's sentence included the anti-procreation condition at issue. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the anti-procreation prohibition impermissibly infringed upon Defendant's constitutional rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the condition unnecessarily imagined upon Defendant's liberty, and therefore, the trial court must remove the anti-procreation condition but may impose other conditions that are appropriately tailored to the goals of community control. View "State v. Chapman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that entering a recreational travel trailer to commit theft does not constitute breaking and entering if the trailer is winterized, covered, and stored, holding that, contrary to the court of appeals' conclusion, such a structure is an "unoccupied structure" for the purposes of Ohio Rev. Code 2911.13(A).Defendant was convicted of breaking and entering under 2911.13(A). The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trailer that Defendant broke into did not constitute an unoccupied structure for the purposes of the statute because it was not being "maintained" for residential use when the crime occurred. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because the recreational travel trailer was manufactured for overnight accommodation, the fact that it was not occupied at the time of Defendant's theft rendered it an unoccupied structure rather than a nonstructure; and (2) therefore, the court of appeals erred in reversing Defendant's conviction and sentence based on insufficient evidence of the "unoccupied structure" element in section 2911.13(A). View "State v. Fazenbaker" on Justia Law