Drug offenses under Ohio law, such as possession or trafficking, can vary depending on the weight or the amount of drug involved. All illegal drugs, whether they are prescription or street drugs, have a baseline level of offense that can increase depending on the amount of the drug. For example, possession of marijuana starts as a minor misdemeanor whereas possession of cocaine is a fifth degree felony. These charges will increase based on the weight of the drug. Possession of marijuana becomes a fifth degree felony if the defendant possessed at least 200 grams but less than 1,000 grams. One other consideration to keep in mind is that if the drug is combined with other substances, such as baking soda and cocaine, marijuana brownies, or hash oil mixed with a substance, then the entire weight of the substance or compound is taken into account, not just the weight of the amount of the drug involved. So .99 pounds of baking soda mixed with .01 pounds of cocaine is 1 pound of cocaine.
Civil suits are, in large part, brought to pursue financial compensation for those who have been wronged or injured by the negligence or intentional actions of another person. The plaintiffs in these cases are required to prove their case and why they are entitled to compensation for past and future expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Civil cases, though, can all too frequently be derailed or impacted by a parties' decision to post things on social media. Consider this example: An employee files suit alleging he has been discriminated on the basis of his race. In his lawsuit, he claims that this situation has impacted him so much that he is unable to focus, unable to work, and unable to even leave the home. Sounds like the potential for a strong case, right? Now imagine that this individual's Facebook page has pictures of him with friends going out on a near nightly basis. Not such a strong case after all.
The Ohio Supreme Court recently heard arguments in City of Cleveland v. Benjamin Oles to decide whether Miranda warnings are required for questioning of a suspect removed from his vehicle and placed in the front seat of a police cruiser during an OVI investigation.
Issue: Does investigative questioning of a person in a trooper's front seat during a traffic stop rise to the level of a custodial interrogation triggering the protections guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court's decision in Miranda v. Arizona?
This week, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in State of Ohio v. Jamie Banks-Harvey. The issue before the court is whether the police may search an individual's purse after the individual is arrested and placed in a cruiser but before the individual is transported to jail.
In this case, Jamie Banks-Harvey ("Banks-Harvey") was driving with two passenger and was pulled over by a trooper for speeding. Soon after, the trooper learned she had a warrant for her arrest for heroin possession in another county. The trooper patted her down and placed her in the back of his cruiser. While confirming whether the warrant was active, the trooper returned to the car and spoke to the two passengers. The trooper later testified that during this conversation with the two passengers, he saw a gel cap on the floorboard he believed to be heroin.
In yet another update to previous blog posts (here, and here), the Ohio Supreme Court has reconsidered a case that has drastic implications for how the weight of drugs, and specifically cocaine, is determined. In State v. Gonzales, the Court initially held that the State must prove the weight of the actual cocaine, excluding any weight of filler materials used in the mixture. The State requested that the Court reconsider its decision and, when it did, it reversed its previous decision and now held that the entire "compound, mixture, preparation, or substance," including any fillers that are part of the usable drug, must be considered for the purpose of determining the appropriate penalty for cocaine possession.
A push is underway to amend the Ohio Constitution to expand the rights of Ohio victims of crime. This amendment, titled Marsy's Law, would, among other things, guarantee certain rights for victims, including:
- Notice of all public proceedings involving the offense and the right to be present at all proceedings.
- Reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on his or her behalf.
- Notice of any release or escape of the accused.
- A prompt conclusion of the case, without unreasonable delay.
- Being treated with fairness and respect for the victim's safety, dignity and privacy.
- The right to have input on plea deals offered to defendants.
The amendment also states that victims can assert these rights in court and, if denied, file an appeal.
In a recent case handled by our attorneys, police arrested a suspect and told his family that he would be questioned about criminal allegations at the local police station. The family, concerned about what the suspect might say, tried to prohibit the police from questioning the suspect by telling police that the suspect "does not want to be questioned" and he "wants a lawyer". Despite the family's pleas, the police proceeded with the questioning of the suspect at the police station. Unfortunately, because of the police questioning, the suspect eventually made inconsistent and incriminating statements that drastically affected the outcome of his case.
Even though seemingly unfair, the police are not required to abide by the family's attempt to invoke the suspect's Miranda right to counsel. Under the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court established "Miranda Rights" that include the right of a suspect to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during an interrogation. In addition to those rights, the Miranda Court specified that if a suspect requests an attorney during questioning, the police must immediately cease and the questioning may not resume until the suspect has had an opportunity to consult with an attorney and have him or her present during the interrogation.
Like many states, the deadline in Ohio to file a lawsuit against another person or entity for injuries they caused depends on the nature of the injury. This deadline is referred to as the statute of limitations. The purpose for the statute of limitations is at least twofold: first, it helps to ensure evidence is not lost over time such that a person being sued (i.e., a defendant) cannot effectively defend him- or herself against the claim; and second, it incentivizes a person suing another to pursue his or her valid claim diligently.
In Ohio, if the injury was a result of negligence (i.e., someone's unreasonable or careless conduct-as opposed to an intentional act), the injured party has two years from the date of the negligent act to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Our firm handles many of these claims, which include car accidents, motorcycle crashes, and truck-driving accidents.
Tax time is quickly approaching and if you are going through a divorce, you may have some questions about how to file your taxes.
One of the first questions people ask is how to file. Pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code, if you are still married on December 31st, you have to file as married that year, whether it be jointly or married filing separately. If you are not married on December 31st, you cannot file as married. Don't forget to ask your accountant about whether you are eligible to file as Head of Household. This may be addressed in your Separation Agreement or Divorce Decree, so make sure you know what your court order says before discussing this issue with your accountant.
Our divorce and collaborative law attorneys are commonly asked what the difference is between a divorce and dissolution. They are also frequently asked about collaborative law.
Ohio statutes provide two processes for terminating a marriage, divorce and dissolution. When taken to conclusion, both end in a fully enforceable court order.