Prior to heading home for the summer, Ohio legislators sent several bills to the Governor's desk for signature. Many of those bills have an impact on the criminal laws.
Three bills increase the criminal penalties for certain crimes. First, H.B. 110 increases the penalty for a hit and run that results in death or serious injury. That bill does create limited immunity for those charged with a minor drug crime while seeking medical attention for an overdose. H.B. 171 reduces the amount of heroin required for someone to be charged with a first degree felony and considered a major drug offender. Such a label brings with it mandatory prison time for the offender. Finally, S.B. 97 creates a specification for an armed violent career criminal which carries a mandatory sentence from 2-11 years. That bill also increases by 50% the mandatory prison term under a firearm specification if the defendant previously plead guilty to a firearm spec. While increasing some penalties, S.B. 97 does provide that an inmate serving five or more years may get credit for time served for purposes of calculating judicial release, actually decreasing the total time an inmate must wait before filing such a request.
H.B. 123 and 164 deal with pre- and post-conviction issues. H.B. 123 eliminates the requirement for a pre-sentence investigation in cases where community control is agreed upon, decreasing the wait time for a defendant to be sentenced. H.B. 164 permits the sealing of a record that may not have been previously eligible for sealing if, after the date of conviction, the offense was amended by the legislature to be an eligible offense.
We will stay on top of pending legislation and report back once our legislators are back in session after the November election!