Civil Penalties for a Criminal Offense

On a regular basis I will have a client contact me after he or she has been charged with a theft offense that they just received a letter in the mail from the store’s lawyers. Whether it’s Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, or others, it’s not uncommon for their lawyers to send a theft penalty letter to the accused, demanding that they pay a civil fine to the store for their alleged acts. This is something outside of, and in addition to, any criminal fines or orders of restitution; even if the items are recovered in perfect condition!

I recently came across an article discussing just this topic and how some people are even being detained and accused of theft offenses by store personnel; not the police. And what’s worse, in some instances these allegations are being made based on racial profiling.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a theft offense this holiday season, contact Attorney Robert Botnick to discuss your rights and how to address these penalty demand letters.

When Can I File for Judicial Release?

This is a question I hear from my clients, their families, and folks I come across in the area’s courts and jails. First off, what exactly is Judicial Release? Also referred to as “Shock Probation,” it’s a program offered through the courts as a means of granting an early release from prison in Ohio and being placed on probation. It’s not an automatic right, but it is something that can be applied for when serving a non-mandatory prison sentence. If someone is serving only a mandatory sentence (Ex. Felony 5 Domestic Violence with a pregnancy specification), they cannot be considered for Judicial Release.

So, here’s the breakdown for when we can apply for Judicial Release during a non-mandatory prison sentence:

  • If the sentence is less than 2 years: after being delivered to the prison -or- if the prison term includes a mandatory prison term, any time after the expiration of that mandatory prison term
  • If the sentence is 2 or more, but less than 5 years: after serving 180 days in prison -or- if the prison term includes a mandatory prison term, 180 days after the expiration of that mandatory prison term
  • If the sentence is exactly 5 years: after serving 4 years in prison -or- if the prison term includes a mandatory prison term, 4 years after the expiration of that mandatory prison term
  • If the sentence is more than 5, but 10 years or less: after serving 5 years of combined jail and prison time -or- if the prison term includes a mandatory prison term, 5 years after the expiration of that mandatory prison term
  • If the sentence is more than 10 years: not earlier than the later of (1) the date on which one has served half of his/her stated prison term, or (2) 5 years after serving any mandatory portion of a sentence. A stated prison term means the combination of mandatory and non-mandatory time imposed by the trial court.

Of course this is just a guide as to when one can apply for Judicial Release; the application process is something wholly unto itself that must be approached with great care and humility. It takes the right approach and the right attorney to guide you through this process to ensure that the motion is granted the first time around. Contact our office today to see how we can help you reunite with a loved one sooner rather than later.


Updated 1/31/18

Keeping Juveniles In Juvenile Court with HB 86

Last year when the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 86, it brought about a number of changes to the courts. A major component of HB 86 was how it effected the sentencing process in common pleas courts. This included when juveniles are tried as adults, known as bindovers.

If a juvenile had his case “bound over” from juvenile court to adult court because of the charges and/or his juvenile record, he had to be tried and sentenced as an adult. Today if a juvenile is convicted, whether at trial or through a plea, of a non-mandatory bindover offense, he must be returned to juvenile court to face sentencing there. It also results in having the adult case expunged automatically! This is a newer procedure known as a “reverse bindover.”

Of course not every case is eligible for a reverse bindover, and not every reverse bindover will remain in juvenile court, but the possibility of facing a juvenile disposition rather than an adult sentence is a major step forward. Contact me to see if you or someone you know may be eligible for a reverse bindover and how we can avoid an adult sentence to prison.

Pretrials with a Touch of Tech

At one of my pretrials this morning I was speaking with my client outside of the courtroom. As he asked me whether I had received the discovery from the prosecutor yet, I was able to pull out my iPad, hop online, download the reports, and share what the police were alleging in his case.

It’s amazing to think that for years the only way defense attorneys learned what was in the police reports was from having a prosecutor read it to us word for word. Today I can have the reports and photos at my fingertips in an instant!

Of course not every lawyer uses this technology to his advantage, but I insist that I stay on the cutting edge of what’s available in order to provide my clients with every possible advantage. Call me and see how we can use leading technology to enhance your defense.

Probation is Possible!

This morning in court I represented a client charged with an elevated felony charge of Obstructing Justice. This wasn’t my client’s first encounter with the justice system and, in fact, my client had previously served time in prison.

Going in to court this morning we had no idea what the judge’s sentence would be. My client was extremely nervous that prison might be the next stop. I was nervous for my client, too. But the combination of things going on in my client’s life, as well as the number of people who depend on my client on a daily basis, helped ensure a sentence of probation for 3 years.

That’s a very welcome resolution to the case and I’m glad I was able to help make it a reality for my client.