A recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling will change the way offenders with juvenile records can be sentenced in adult court. Prior to this decision, juvenile convictions could be used to add additional criminal charges to a criminal indictment or to extend the prison sentences for adult defendants who commit crimes later in life.
In a 4-3 decision issued on August 25, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court definitively ruled that because a juvenile criminal proceeding does not provide a juvenile criminal defendant with the right to a jury trial, it cannot be used as a prior felony conviction for sentencing purposes when the same defendant is charged with another crime as an adult. The court determined that doing so violated the defendant’s right to due process under both the United States and Ohio Constitutions.
The Case In Question
The facts involved in the case involved an adult, Adrian Hand, Jr., who pled no contest to five felony charges, and during sentencing, counted his prior juvenile adjudication for aggravated robbery as a prior felony for sentencing purposes. This resulted in a mandatory prison term of six years due to his juvenile conviction.
Writing for the Court majority, Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger of the Ohio Supreme Court stated that, because a juvenile adjudication does not provide the right to a jury trial, it cannot be used to increase an adult sentence. Justice Lanzinger explained that federal court precedent requires that any prior conviction used to increase a penalty beyond the prescribed maximum sentence must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt and further noted that the U.S. Supreme Court had expanded that case law to apply it to increasing a mandatory minimum sentence. Therefore, a criminal defendant’s prior juvenile records could not be used as a factor to increase any sentence the criminal defendant might later face for any crimes he or she may commit as an adult.
If You Are A Juvenile and Charged with a Crime, Contact Bradley J. Groene
If you are a juvenile or your child has been accused of a juvenile crime, contact Attorney Brad Groene of Luftman, Heck & Associates right away. Brad is a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience representing individuals in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.
If you are in need of an attorney for any criminal defense charges, particularly juvenile charges, in the greater Cincinnati area, contact us at (513) 338-1890 to discuss your situation.