> Criminal Defense | Daniel F. Gigiano Co., L.P.A. - Part 2
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Criminal Defense

Drug Trafficking

Drug Trafficking is a serious crime that can result in incarceration and other serious consequences.   Drug trafficking is knowingly selling or offering to sell a controlled substance. Drug trafficking is also committed by shipping, transporting, delivering, or preparing a controlled substance for shipment, transportation or delivery when the person has reason to believe the recipient intends to sell the controlled substance. One does not have to receive money for the drugs to be convicted of drug trafficking; a sale can be by barter, transfer or gift. This means sharing drugs with friends is trafficking. A controlled substance is a drug, compound, mixture or substance included in schedule I, II, III, IV or V of the Ohio Revised Code and the United States Attorney General’s Office. The schedules include many prescription drugs.   (more…)

The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies In Ohio

What is the difference between misdemeanors and felonies in Ohio? In most instances, a misdemeanor in Ohio is a crime that is punishable by not more than one hundred eighty days in jail. One cannot be sent to prison on a misdemeanor. Some felonies are punishable by six or more months in prison. All felonies in Ohio are punishable by at least six months in prison. Felonies can be sentenced to local jail time.   Ohio law sets forth the different classes of misdemeanors and their sentencing ranges: a misdemeanor of the first degree is not more than one hundred eighty days in jail; a misdemeanor of the second degree is not more than ninety days in jail; a misdemeanor of the third degree is not more than sixty days in jail; a misdemeanor of the fourth degree is not more than thirty days in jail; and a minor misdemeanor cannot consist of any jail time. (more…)

Negligent Entrustment

If the owner of a vehicle knew at the time he or she allowed the driver to operate a vehicle that the driver was unqualified to operate the vehicle, the owner could be liable for negligent entrustment, also known as wrongful entrustment of motor vehicle. Ohio law states that the owner of a vehicle shall not allow one to drive their vehicle if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that the person: does not have a valid driver’s license; has a suspended driver’s license; or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The code lists some more obscure reasons, which can be found here.  When the owner and driver live in the same household and are related to each other, the law assumes that the owner knows that the household member’s driver’s license is invalid.   (more…)

Driver’s License Is Not Needed For Non-Motor Vehicles

A driver’s license is not needed for non-motor vehicles in Ohio. A motorized bicycle is not a motor vehicle. Trailers towed at twenty-five miles per hour or less is not included in the definition of motor vehicles. A motorized bicycle is “any vehicle that either has two tandem wheels or one wheel in the front and two wheels in the rear, that is capable of being pedaled, and that is equipped with a helper motor of not more than fifty cubic centimeters piston displacement that produces no more than one brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of no greater than twenty miles per hour on a level surface. A motorized bicycle does not become a motor vehicle unless it is pulling a trailer.   (more…)

Police Can Make A Warrantless Stop To Give Emergency Aid

The Ohio Supreme Court, in State v. Dunn, ruled that the police can make a warrantless stop to give emergency aid. In this case, the officer received a radio dispatch that there was a suicidal male driving a tow truck who was planning to kill himself. Although the officer did not observe any traffic violations, the vehicle stop was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Ohio Supreme Court said that the stop was justified under a community caretaking or emergency aid exception to the Fourth Amendment’s restrictions for warrantless searches and seizures. Because police have a duty “to provide emergency services to those who are in danger of physical harm” such stops will often be held to be valid. This exception eliminates the need to show a reasonable basis to rely on the accuracy of a tip, as that standard only applies to investigating suspected criminal activity.   (more…)

No Time Limit On Charging Crimes When One Flees To Avoid Prosecution

There is no time limit on charging crimes when one flees to avoid prosecution. In State v. Bess, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Ohio law tolls or stops the running of the statutes of limitations when the offender purposefully avoids prosecution. This applies to crimes that had not yet been charged or even discovered, as long as the offender purposefully avoids prosecution. In this case, Bess learned in 1989 that he was being investigated for raping a young girl. He fled to Georgia and assumed a false identity in order to avoid prosecution. He was indicted later that same year. He remained in Georgia until he was arrested in 2007 and returned to Ohio. During trial preparation, the prosecutor interviewed the girl’s brother and learned for the first time that he too was raped by Bess. A second indictment charged Bess with that rape. Bess was convicted. While there was no question that the State of Ohio could try Bess for rape of the girl, the real question was whether he could be charged and convicted of a crime eighteen years after he purposefully fled to avoid prosecution. The Ohio Supreme Court said that he could be charged and convicted in this manner because he purposefully fled the jurisdiction to avoid prosecution. (more…)

Automatic Lifetime Registration For Juvenile Sex Offenders Is Unconstitutional

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that automatic lifetime registration for juvenile sex offenders is unconstitutional. In their decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that automatically imposing a lifetime registration requirement for a juvenile sex offender amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and violates the juvenile’s right to due process of law. In 2006, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act, also known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORN). In 2008, Ohio became the first state to adopt a law that followed SORN. When the Ohio Supreme Court reviewed this law in its 2012 decision, it noted that most of the states refused to pass similar laws, opposing the lifetime sex offender registration and notification requirements for juveniles. This national consensus of rejecting automatic lifetime registration requirements for juveniles was the first of two factors the Court used to strike down this portion of the law. The second step was to look at the court’s own independent judgment on whether this punishment violates the Constitution. In doing so, the Court determined that: (1) the lifetime registration requirement was much more likely to hinder than to help juveniles obtain stable employment and reintegrate into their communities after their release from custody; (2) was contrary to past decisions that held that juveniles should be treated as less morally capable than adults; and (3) was contrary to the juvenile justice system’s primary purpose of rehabilitation rather than punishment. This analysis led the court to conclude that the severity of lifetime registration and notification and lack of adequate justification renders it cruel and unusual under the eighth amendment to the United States Constitution. The law also denied due process because it is automatic and does not allow the court to consider the child’s background or how publication of the offense might affect rehabilitation.

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Suspended Driver’s License in Ohio

What do you do if you have a suspended driver’s license in Ohio? The solution starts with determining what event caused the driver’s license to be suspended. Once the cause is determined, one may be able to figure out the reinstatement requirements. It is also important to know what can happen if one is convicted of driving under a suspended driver’s license. Ohio BMV’s website can be found on my links page, along with a number of other important links.   How does one’s driver’s license get suspended in Ohio? A judge can order the suspension as part of your sentence for a crime. Such crimes include drug possession, drug trafficking, possession of drug paraphernalia, OVI, hit-skip, fleeing and eluding, or driving under suspension. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) imposes suspensions for failure to show proof of insurance either during a traffic stop or after random selection by the BMV to show proof of insurance. This suspension is known as a non-compliance suspension and is covered under Ohio’s Financial Responsibility Act.   (more…)

Search Of Abandoned Property Admissible

In State v. Gould, the Ohio Supreme Court held a search of abandoned property admissible when it held that the police can search an abandoned hard drive. The suspect in this case had left a hard drive behind in his apartment in August 2006. When he left the apartment, he stole a truck belonging to his brother, who was also his roommate. He also concealed himself until he was arrested in Michigan in June 2007. The suspect never asked about the hard drive and never tried to get it back. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that these actions amounted to abandonment of the hard drive. Because the property was abandoned, the police were free to search the hard drive when the suspect’s mother turned it over to them.   (more…)

Intervention In Lieu Of Conviction

Intervention in Lieu of conviction is a program that allows one charged with a crime to obtain a dismissal at the conclusion of the program. In order to be eligible, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, or mental health issues must have played a part in the commission of the offense. The program focuses on treating, rather than punishing, the problem.   Once the charges are dismissed, the record is not sealed off from the public. The arrest record likely still exists. In order to wipe the docket and arrest from the record, one must file to have those records sealed and expunged. When can this record be expunged? Does one have to wait one year for a misdemeanor or three years for a felony? The Ohio Supreme Court addressed this question in State v. Niesen-Pennycuff. In this case, the Ohio Supreme Court held that, because the charges are dismissed at the conclusion of an intervention in lieu of conviction program, there is no conviction. The waiting periods only apply to convictions. Therefore, expungement of the docket and arrest is available immediately. However, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that, just because trial courts can immediately grant a request for expungement, it does not mean that they must. The trial courts could impose their own waiting period, even if the waiting period is as long as those for eligibility for expungement of convictions. A skilled criminal defense attorney, such as this Akron criminal law attorney near Barberton, can help one navigate the different situations and courts. (more…)

What Is Extradition?

What is extradition? Extradition is a procedure where a person in one state is surrendered to another state in connection with separate criminal proceedings. Usually, that person has fled the state to avoid prosecution, sentencing or incarceration. A person who flees prosecution or sentencing is called a fugitive.   One the fugitive is arrested, he or she can either request a hearing to contest the extradition or can waive the right to this hearing. If the fugitive waives the right to a hearing, he or she will be available for return to the state that issued the warrant. (more…)

Can Something Be Done To Keep Me Out Of Jail?

When people accused of a crime come into my office, they often ask “can something be done to keep me out of jail?” More specifically, many clients ask if I can promise to keep them out of jail. I guess I am a little too honest. I do not make that promise. Does that mean I cannot do the job? No, it means I do not lie to people. I can promise to defend you with the knowledge and ability that I have accumulated for over twenty-one years of practicing law.   If someone is charged with a fourth or fifth degree felony, Ohio law basically tells the judge to give the person probation (technically called community control) unless there are some specific reasons not to do so. Does that usually mean that the person stays out of jail? Possibly, but the judge may decide to give a short jail sentence. Many of these felonies may qualify for diversion or intervention in lieu of a conviction. However, there may be technical problems with getting into an intervention in lieu of a conviction program and the prosecutor could decide that he or she does not want to offer diversion for a particular case. What if you do not like the terms of the diversion? Perhaps, you feel like the victim is inflating the losses and making you pay much more than they ever lost. You could take it to trial, and try to get your case reduced to a misdemeanor by a jury of your peers. Because the judge cannot send you to prison on a misdemeanor, you got this thing beaten, huh? Not so fast. That judge can still send you to jail on a misdemeanor conviction, especially if he or she thinks the actions that they heard during trial demand a response. Some crimes have minimum sentences. For example, DUIs have minimum sentences starting at three days in jail. Firearm specifications have at least a one year minimum prison term, often triggering a separate and consecutive prison term for the main felony charge.   (more…)

Can You Lie To The Police?

Can you lie to the police? No. You have the right to remain silent, not to lie, especially if that lie is designed to mislead the police. Then, the lie is considered obstruction of justice or obstruction of official business.   Obstructing justice is defined in Ohio Revised Code 2921.32 (R.C. 2921.32). It is a crime to attempt to hinder the discovery, apprehension, conviction or punishment of a person who has committed a crime. This can include lying or misleading the police, harboring or hiding the accused person, or helping the accused person evade the police. It can also include the use of bribery or intimidation. If the crime committed by the person aided is a misdemeanor, obstructing justice is a misdemeanor of the same degree. For example, if the aided person committed assault, a first degree misdemeanor, obstructing justice would be a first degree misdemeanor. If the crime committed by the person aided is a third, fourth or fifth degree felony, other potential penalties are specified under R.C. 2921.32.   Obstructing official business is defined in Ohio Revised Code 2921.31 (R.C. 2921.31), making it illegal to prevent, obstruct or delay a police officer or other public official in the performance of his or her official duties. (more…)

Cheap Criminal Defense Attorney

My office receives a lot of phone calls asking what I charge for a criminal defense or DUI defense.  Some of these prospective clients are looking for a cheap criminal defense attorney or a cheap DUI attorney.  Some are just trying to get an idea of the range of criminal attorney fees.  We happily give them our fee and tell them what we do for that fee.  However, it is really difficult to really show them all that we do for that fee.  While we have a competitive fee, we are not the lowest fee.  We do not want to be the lowest fee because of the loss of professionalism and service that would likely occur if we were to charge such a low fee.

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Prosecutorial Misconduct

What is prosecutorial misconduct?  Improper remarks during trial, failure to disclose exculpatory evidence and knowing use of perjured testimony are just a few examples.  Sometimes, a prosecutor’s misconduct amounts to grounds for reversible error under Ohio Revised Code 2945.79 (R.C. 2945.79).   What comments can give rise to prosecutorial misconduct?  The following examples are remarks that can deprive the defendant of a fair trial:  
  1. Adversely commenting on a defendant’s failure to testify at trial.
  2. Use of a defendant’s silence before or after arrest as substantive evidence of guilt.
  3. Unfair or derogatory personal references to defense counsel during trial.
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Can A Person Waive The Right To Remain Silent?

Can a person waive the right to remain silent?  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to remain silent, often referred to as “pleading the fifth.”  Ohio also guarantees this right in Article 1, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution.   In the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the court said that the following warnings must be given prior to a custodial interrogation:   (more…)

Police Took The Suspect Into Custody

What does it mean when someone says that the police took the suspect into custody?  There are a number of factors that courts use to determine whether a person is in custody.  Why is this important?  Miranda warnings must be given if a suspect is questioned while in custody.  If the warnings are not given, the suspect’s answers cannot be used at trial.   The factors as set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291 (1980), are as follows:
  1. Did the person feel free to leave at that location (home vs. police station);
  2. Was the person a suspect at the time the questioning began;
  3. Was the person’s freedom to leave restricted in any way;
  4. Was the person handcuffed or told he or she was under arrest;
  5. Were threats made during the questioning;
  6. Was the person physically intimidated during the questioning;
  7. Did the police verbally dominate the questioning;
  8. What was the person’s purpose for being at the place the questioning took place;
  9. Were neutral parties present at any point during the questioning;
  10. Did the police try to overpower, trick or coerce the person into making a statement.
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What Jail Time Credit Will Be Applied?

One question that frequently arises at sentencing is what jail time credit will be applied?  Time spent in confinement can be credited against a sentence.  Confinement includes jail and community based correctional facility (CBCF).  Treatment can count if the defendant was confined there.  In order to get credit, the person had to be in custody for the case that is proceeding to sentencing.  In other words, the person cannot get credit for time served on another charge or other case.   (more…)

Can I Go To Jail For Defaulting On A Payday Loan?

Some payday lenders threaten to call the police if the check bounces, prompting one to ask, “can I go to jail for defaulting on a payday loan?”   A payday loan is usually a small loan with a postdated check as collateral for the loan.  The due date is usually the date of the person’s next paycheck.  Payday loans carry a high interest rate, often more than 300%.  If one borrows $300 on March 1 and has to pay $330 back on March 15, it may not seem like much.  However, ten percent over two weeks is equivalent to 260% over a year.  If someone repeatedly took out this same loan for a full year, that person would pay 260% interest on $300, which amounts to paying the $300 back, plus $780 in interest.   (more…)

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