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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…)

Slip And Fall Personal Injury

In many personal injury cases, there is no question as to whether someone is liable for injuries caused in an accident. When someone hits someone from behind or veers into oncoming traffic and hits another car head-on, we can all agree that these individuals will usually be liable for any resulting injuries.   In slip and fall personal injury cases, liability for the injury is not always so clear. The owner of the premises must be negligent in maintaining the premises. This means there is some defect in the premises. The defect could be a hole in the ground, a slippery surface, or unstable steps. However, negligence alone will not win the case. If the defect was open and obvious, the injured person cannot recover for his or her injury. In some cases, this makes perfect sense. If the owner spots a hole and immediately puts posts and yellow warning tape around the hole, the owner has rendered the defect open and obvious. In many circumstances, the owner would not be liable if someone were to fall into the hole. Because people should be able to see the hole, they should be able to avoid it. What if the owner did this in an unlit portion of a parking lot? If the injured person could not reasonably see the warning, then the defect would no longer be open and obvious.   (more…)

Two Trials May Be Required In Some Personal Injury Cases

The 2005 Ohio Tort Reform Law requires Ohio courts hearing personal injury lawsuits to grant requests for bifurcation of trials when both compensatory and punitive damages are sought. In other words, two trials may be required in some personal injury cases. The constitutionality of the tort reform law was challenged in a case called Havel v. Villa St. Joseph. Ordinarily, the Ohio Supreme Court gets to make the rules and judges get to decide whether to bifurcate a trial. The Ohio Tort Reform Law was basically the legislature telling the judicial branch how to run their courtrooms during personal injury trials. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the bifurcation requirement created the right to demand a bifurcation. The Ohio Supreme Court noted that the General Assembly intended to reform punitive damages law in Ohio in order to restore balance, fairness, and predictability to the civil justice system. The law was designed to prevent juries from considering evidence of misconduct in determining liability and compensatory damages.   (more…)

When Can Grandparents Take Custody Of A Child?

When can grandparents take custody of a child? A nonparent can be awarded custody of a minor child if the court makes a finding of parental unsuitability. Parental unsuitability can be determined if the "parent abandoned the child; contractually relinquished custody of the child; that the parent has become totally incapable of supporting or caring for the child; or that an award of custody to the parent would be detrimental to the child.” Parents who are suitable persons have a paramount right to the custody of their minor children.   In other words, parents have a right to care for and raise their children. In order to infringe on that right, someone must first demonstrate that the parent is unsuitable, commonly known as unfit parents. A typical case of parental unsuitability is when the parents leave the children with the grandparents and disappear for a long period of time. In such an instance, the grandparent will likely be able to prove parental unsuitability and may be able to obtain custody of the children.   (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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What Is A Municipal Court In Ohio?

Ohio has over 100 municipal courts, including some of our local courts:  Wadsworth Municipal Court, Medina Municipal Court, Wayne County Municipal Court, Barberton Municipal Court, Akron Municipal Court, and Stow Municipal Court.  So, what is a municipal court in Ohio?   (more…)

What Do You Do When Pulled Over By The Police?

What do you do when pulled over by the police?  This really depends on the situation, but there are some tips that work for traffic stops, especially those where the officer suspects a DUI or OVI.   Be aware that the officer and perhaps his video camera is watching your every move.  Signal and pull over right away, but do so smoothly, safely, and completely.  Put the car into park or, if you have a stick-shift, move the gear to neutral and set the parking brake.  Have your license, registration and insurance in hand as quickly as possible.  Keep your seat belt on.  Turn off the radio and roll your window down.  When the officer approaches your vehicle and asks for your driver’s license, registration and insurance, hand them over.  If you still have not located these items, ask the officer for permission before going to retrieve them.  This will alert the officer that you are merely trying to comply with his or her request and that you are not retrieving a weapon.  The officer will be noting whether you are having difficulty finding these items, especially if it looks clumsy.  The officer may ask questions.  You should either politely decline or keep your answers short and true, without admitting anything.   (more…)

Who Is Entitled To A Child’s School Records?

Who is entitled to a child’s school records?  Under Ohio law, both parents have the right to access their child’s school records.  The schools generally recognize the right of the legal custodian and residential parent’s access to school records.  However, some schools may not always recognize the non-residential parent’s right to access their child’s records.  If this problem arises, the legal custody papers usually contain language stating that both parents have the right to have access to their child’s school records. (more…)

Notice of Intent to Relocate

What is a notice of intent to relocate?  It is a provision that is most likely tucked away within an order allocating parental rights and responsibilities, including divorce decrees, dissolution decrees, and legal custody orders.  It is a provision that is often overlooked.  If a residential parent moves, that parent must notify the court when he or she moves.  If one parent does not know where the other parent lives, they may become anxious about where their children are during that other parent’s parenting time.  This could lead to one parent employing various methods to respond.  Such methods may include methods that may not be permissible, such as withholding visitation.  That parent may also decide to call the police or file a motion in court to have custody changed, all because that parent simply did not know where their children were at during the other parent’s parenting time. (more…)

Medina County Legal Custody Attorney

What does a Medina County legal custody attorney do?  In Ohio, it is usually a request from the court to “allocate parental rights and responsibilities” or when modifying an existing custody order, “reallocate parental rights and responsibilities.”  If a parent is granted custody in a divorce, dissolution, annulment, legal separation or parentage case, that parent is named the residential parent and legal custodian of the child.  If shared parenting is granted, both parents are the residential parents, but one will be the residential parent for school purposes, which means the child will go to school in the district in which that parent resides.  Shared parenting does not necessarily mean equal time or support, but simply means that both parents share equal responsibilities. (more…)

More Problems From Online Legal Document Services

I have been hearing more problems from online legal document services.  It is bad enough that there are instances of such documents being thrown out by courts.  See my blog and links to such instances:
Should you use online legal document services?
http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2014/sc11-2147.pdf
http://www.flascblog.com/e-zer-said-than-done-court-considers-will-prepared-with-commercially-available-form/
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Can A Child Choose Which Parent To Live With?

Can a child choose which parent to live with?  The wishes of the child is certainly a factor the court must consider in deciding which parent will have custody or will be the residential parent for school purposes under a shared parenting plan.  However, there are many factors that courts must consider in child custody cases.  These child custody factors are set forth by Ohio law.  This article will specifically focus on the child's power to make such a decision within this legal framework.
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Debt Collector Harrassment

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prevents debt collectors from harassing you and calling you outside normal business hours.  While the law gives you some rights, it does not give you the right to avoid your debt.  The FDCPA covers only personal and household debts, but not business debts.  Typical personal debts are vehicle loans and credit card debts.
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Medicaid Guidelines for long term care in 2015

The following sets forth Medicaid guidelines for long term care in 2015.  Medicaid is a valuable resource for seniors in paying for long term care, such as care in a nursing home, assisted living, or in-home care.  Under the guidelines, the patient and patient’s spouse can keep specific amounts of their monthly income and savings. (more…)

What Should You Do If You Are Involved In a Traffic Accident?

What should you do if you are involved in a traffic accident?  If you get involved in a traffic accident on a public road, you are required to do a number of things.  First, you must stop and remain at the scene.  You must also give your name, address, vehicle license plate number, and name and address of the vehicle owner to the police, persons injured in the accident and to the operator, occupant, or owner of the damaged vehicle.  If he injured person is not in a position to understand or receive this information, you must immediately notify the nearest police authority of the location of the accident, your name and address and your vehicle license plate number.  You must also show your driver’s license to anyone who requests it.  You must also remain at the scene until the police arrive, unless you are transported to another location by ambulance. (more…)

Landlord Duties And Tenant Duties

There are landlord duties and tenant duties that landlords and tenants need to follow.  The law provides remedies for failure to follow such duties.  There are duties under Ohio landlord-tenant laws and under the lease.
A lease creates rights and obligations for both landlord and tenant.  A lease cannot create rights and obligations prohibited by Ohio law.  For example, a landlord may not require a tenant to pay attorney fees unless specifically permitted under Ohio’s landlord-tenant laws.  The side that prepares the lease will have any confusing provisions decided against that side; because the landlord usually prepares the lease, this usually means such confusing lease provisions will be decided against the landlord and for the tenant. (more…)

Orrville Bankruptcy Attorney

Orrville bankruptcy attorney

What is an Orrville bankruptcy attorney? An Orrville bankruptcy lawyer prepares and files bankruptcy petitions in the Canton Bankruptcy Court.  The hearings for Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are held at the trustee hearing room in the courthouse, located at 401 McKinley Avenue S.W., Canton, Ohio 44702.  The hearings for Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions are also held in the trustee hearing room in the courthouse.  Prior to the Chapter 13 hearings, debtors must sit through a mandatory informational class.  The hearings occur immediately after the class ends.  In order for the Chapter 7 or 13 hearings to go forward, the trustee must have received all the required information and documentation in a timely fashion.  The debtors must bring photo id and a social security card to the hearing.  The attorney advises the client and ensures that the necessary filings are made so that the client can receive a discharge of their debts. (more…)

Unreliable Identification Cannot Be Used At Trial

If the identification procedure used by the police is suggestive and unnecessary, it is a violation of the accused person’s rights. The courts look at the corrupting effect of the suggestive identification against the witness’s ability to make an accurate identification.  Even if the witness had an adequate opportunity to view a suspect, the later use of a highly suggestive identification procedure can make the witness’ testimony inadmissible.  In other words, unreliable identification cannot be used at trial. Courts consider a number of factors, including: (1)        opportunity of the witness to view the criminal a the time of the crime; (2)        the witness’ degree of attention; (3)        the accuracy of the witness’ prior description of the criminal; (4)        the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the confrontation; and (5)        the length of time between the crime and the confrontation. (more…)

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