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Legal Alerts and Useful Links

Following are a a series of legal alerts and informative articles on matters of family and civil law.
10/2018 - Recent Expansion of Sealing Your Criminal Record (Expungement)
11/2019 - Stark County Family Court Adopts Changes to Visitation Schedules
3/2020 -  OVI – Annie’s Law, Giving Some Discretion Back to the Court 


Useful Links 

Stark County Bar Assoc. - https://starkctybar.com/

Ohio State Bar Assoc.  - https://www.ohiobar.org/

Stark County Family Court - https://www.starkcountyohio.gov/family-court

Supreme Court of Ohio - http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/

Fifth District Court of Appeals - https://www.starkcountyohio.gov/fifth-district

Updates to Sealing your Record

  

Legal Alerts- published 10/2018: To begin, we should first clear up the idea that the crimes are “expunged.” Most calls I receive to remove an old criminal charge from a client’s record start with the proposition that they want to have a charge expunged. The proper term is actually “sealing your record” because the conviction is not destroyed, but rather removed from public view. 


The Ohio General Assembly has recently expanded the definition of “Eligible Offenders” to include “anyone who has been convicted of one or more offenses, but not more than five felonies.” The definition previously limited the number of felonies to one. Additionally, there is no limitation on the number of misdemeanors that may be sealed. 


There is, however, a waiting period that starts once the offender has completed their entire sentence. If probation was ordered, eligibility to seal your record starts to run on the termination of probation. The waiting period varies based on the number and level of charges you are trying to have sealed. 


          · For 3, 4, and 5 felonies, you must wait five years; 

          · For 2 felonies you must wait four years;

          · For 1 felony you must wait three years; and 

          · For misdemeanors, the wait is one year.


Not all types of offenses are eligible for sealing; for example, offenses of violence, sexual offenses, and OVIs (which fall under traffic) cannot be sealed. Additionally, the process and cost to seal records varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If you would like to put that past mistake behind you, please call and schedule a consultation to determine if you are eligible. < return to top >

Stark County Adopts Changes to Visitation Schedule

 Legal Alerts- published 11/2019: “Every other weekend and one evening a week.” Chances are if you have had a friend or relative go through a divorce, dissolution, or custody battle in the last 20 years, this schedule was the starting point for the court. Since I started practicing law in Stark County in 2003, judges, attorneys, guardians, and court personnel have referred to this schedule as “schedule A” or the “Court’s standard schedule.” Over time the schedule softened, resulting in an expansion of the schedule to include: a midweek overnight; an additional Sunday overnight; or in some cases a 50/50 time split. However, it always felt like the schedule started with the premise that one parent was going to have “every other weekend and one evening a week,” while the other parent enjoyed the lion’s share of the time, and it was the  parent with less time that had the burden of proving why they deserve more. 


The recent changes to Stark County’s parenting schedules, in theory, will change this by putting the parents in equal footing at the outset. In fact, the new “Parenting Time Schedule #1” provides that parents will have equal time, after a child reaches the age of two. If that doesn’t work, then “Parenting Time Schedule #2” allows the parent’s alternating weekend to stretch from Friday evening into Monday mornings, and provides for two midweek evening visits (or a midweek overnight). And if that doesn’t work, “Parenting Time Schedule #3” still stretches the weekend visit to Monday morning and provides the one midweek evening visit.  For a complete description of the new parenting schedules, follow the link: https://www.starkcountyohio.gov/family-court/resources/forms-and-links


Will this change result in modifications to all the current visitation orders? Not likely. If your current schedule is the result of an agreement between the parents, then that agreement will most likely be honored. However, if your case involved litigation and a guardian ad litem, then these new parenting schedule guidelines could effect your ability to modify your existing order. < return to top >

OVI – Annie’s Law, Giving Some Discretion Back to the Court

Legal Alerts- published 03/2020: Many attorneys who practice in the OVI/DUI area were happy to see the General Assembly give some discretion back to the judges. OVI/DUI sentencing is routinely guided by “statutory minimums.” What that means is that once you plea to an OVI, regardless if it was your first offense, (barely over the limit, no prior traffic offenses, and you are otherwise an active and productive member of society) your sentence was guided by the legislature…not the judge who is elected to handle sentencing. These minimums include: approx. $400.00 fine; 6 points on your license; 6 month license suspension; and 3 days in a Driver Intervention Program. Not to mention the court costs of ~$290, the cost of the DIP ~$350; and the license reinstatement fee of $350. 


Annie’s law gives the sentencing court the option for first time offenders to take matters into their own hands. Essentially, if you are charged with a first offense (OVI, or in some jurisdictions, more than 20 years since your last OVI), then the court may permit you to take advantage of this opportunity. If the court permits you to partake in the program, you are required to have an interlock device placed on your car for at least 6 months; however, you have unlimited driving privileges and no DIP program. The real benefit comes once you make it through the program: no DIP; the court can waive fines; and you are restored to full driving privileges.

 

This program does not come without risk. Interlock devices are sensitive creatures. The slightest detection of alcohol could result in a violation. When this occurs, you are back to court to essentially be re-sentenced, but this time in addition to an OVI, you have now blatantly violated the court’s orders. During this re-sentencing, the court is required to impose any suspended jail. This means that at a minimum, you will be spending a weekend in jail…likely longer. You will also be attending the DIP program and paying that fine that was suspended.  < return to top >