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Ohio Legal Issues Blog

The Increased Risks in Criminal Prosecutions for International Students

College students that are charged with criminal offenses or that face University discipline must be particularly careful with how their case is handled. On the criminal side, students should heed the words that a Judge reads to them before they enter a plea: "you are hereby advised that a plea of guilty or no-contest could result in your deportation or exclusion from the United States." As one immigration practitioner recently told a client, "jail is bad, but deportation is worse."

So what is an international student, here on an F-1 visa or the like, to do about his or her criminal case? Immigration law is a complex and constantly evolving field. Full disclosure: I am not an immigration lawyer. But the important thing is that I have a good idea of when immigration issues are implicated and therefore I know when to advise a client to get an immigration opinion before entering a plea or taking a case to trial!

Keeping Your Record Clean in the Digital Age

In modern society, the lingering effects of a criminal conviction often include the digital impact that your arrest will have on your career or future job prospects. Commonly, a sealed or expunged record can still have online echoes through online police blotters, local newspaper articles, and mugshot-hoarding websites to name a few.

The Ohio legislature recently tasked the Ohio Attorney General with selecting a private firm to help courts deal with the ever-changing digital impact that a criminal conviction, or even a dismissed criminal charge, can have on a person's future. Through R.C. ยง 109.38, the Attorney General has implemented a new opt-out service for sealing or expunging records in Ohio. In theory, if your case is statutorily eligible, once your attorney files the appropriate motions with the court, the new service will clean up all permanent references to your arrest and/or conviction. However, the new system comes with a predictable disclaimer that the new service cannot guarantee all records will be destroyed. 

A Settlement Against the Odds

Rittgers & Rittgers newest personal injury attorney, Barbara Strady won a battle against State Farm after mediating a motor vehicle collision this week. Our client walked away from this controversial collision with a pain and suffering settlement of $240,000.00

But, like any story, there is more to the picture than just a money settlement. It's a justified settlement for the negligence of another driver who caused tremendous injuries, financial burdens, and pain and suffering to another person - our client. Here at Rittgers & Rittgers, our attorneys fight for the rights to help compensate the injured person and hold the wrongdoer accountable. 

Trial Lawyers in the Era of the Vanishing Trial

Much to the disappointment of the great trial lawyers at Rittgers & Rittgers, very few cases in the modern era are tried in front of a jury. This trend was analyzed in depth in the now seminal article The Vanishing Trial: An Examination of Trials and Related Matters in Federal and State Courts.1 The author finds a startling 60% decline in the absolute number of trials between the mid-1980s and 2004.

Even though the number of trials is declining, you still need a seasoned trial lawyer for your case. An experienced trial lawyer views every case through the most effective lens: the chance that the client's case would prevail in front of a jury.2 With this question firmly in the lawyer's mind, every decision leading up to that point, and to the eventual plea-bargain if there is one, will be more sound. The trial lawyer will not advise his client to plead guilty to a charge on which the client would prevail at trial. The trial lawyer will not over- or under-promise his client at the outset based on unrealistic goals. And the trial lawyer will not make emotional decisions, but rather strategic ones. In short, the trial lawyer is the better lawyer. It is fair to ask any lawyer that you are considering how many jury trials he or she has taken to verdict, and whether or not that lawyer enjoys trying cases.

Does it help that I'm "a good kid" when I'm charged with a crime?

Many college students that are charged with criminal offenses are quick to point out the highlights of their resume when they first meet with me: a high GPA, a clean record, community service, and a professional aspiration that simply cannot tolerate a criminal conviction. It seems like these accomplishments must count for something in reducing the student's criminal or university sanction. Do they? The answer is generally yes, but with some caveats.

First, an impressive resume is a good negotiating tool for your attorney. If I am trying to convince a prosecutor to reduce or amend charges, it certainly helps to be able to rattle off a list of my client's accomplishments. 

Does Post-Conviction House Arrest Count for Jail Time Credit?

The answer is no according to the most recent decision released by the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. In State v. Hurst (2018), 93 N.E.3d 1007, 2018-Ohio142, the Court issued a decision seemingly in conflict with the decision it issued roughly a year prior to Hurst in State v. Fillinger (2017), 72 N.E.3d. 671, 2016-Ohio-8455.

The Court in Fillinger held that a defendant was "confined", as defined by the Ohio Revised Code, during the time he spent on electronic monitored house arrest ("EMHA") following his conviction and therefore was entitled to jail time credit for those days served on EMHA. The Twelfth District, though, subsequently reversed itself in Hurst and determined that the defendant's EMHA did not meet the definition of "confined" and thus her time served while on EMHA did not qualify for jail time credit. 

Fifty-Fifty Custody

People often tell me that their goal for the resolution of their case is 50/50 custody.  I hear the term almost daily in this area of the law.  This term is actually incorrect.

In both Ohio and Kentucky, the courts determine which parent will be the custodial parent or if the parents will share joint custody (KY) or shared parenting (OH).  Parenting time, to which most people are referring to when they say 50/50, is something that is decided separately.

What is Personal Injury Protection?

Personal Injury Protection is sometimes referred to as PIP coverage. This coverage is available to all Kentucky residents who have automobile insurance. It is available to the driver and all passengers in the vehicle.

But, what is it? 

Are we ready for an active shooter situation?

With all the dangers in the world today, active shooter situations are one of the dangers you can push aside. The local police and fire have it covered. That's because the police and fire departments have teamed up with other localities to ensure they have the best teams possible to handle the unexpected.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the definition of an "Active Shooter" is "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims." 

Understanding the Miami University Two/Three Strike Policy

I frequently get calls from individuals facing mandatory suspension at Miami University because they have accumulated "two strikes" or "three strikes" depending on the situation. By this, students are referring to Miami's policy whereby if a student receives two intoxication offenses, three alcohol-related offenses, or two dishonesty offenses, the student must be suspended for at least one semester. Students and parents often do not understand what does and does not qualify as a "strike," and they are further taken aback by the harshness of the sanctions. Unfortunately, I am not able to tell you that Miami's policy is less harsh than it sounds, but I am able to help clarify which situations should concern students and parents, before reviewing some preventative steps.

So what counts as a strike? First, Miami has two types of alcohol violations, possession/consumption and intoxication. If a student is merely in possession of alcohol, or merely consumes alcohol without being intoxicated, then we call that a "105(b)" (the relevant code section). If a student is intoxicated OR exhibits "negative behavior associated with the use of alcohol," then we call it a "105(a)." If a student receives two 105(a)s (intoxications) within a two-year period, then that student must be suspended for at least one semester (two strikes and you're out). Note that two 105(b)s do not mandate a suspension (although Miami could impose a discretionary suspension). If a student receives three of any type of alcohol violation, either 105(a) or (b), within a two-year period, then that student must be suspended for at least one semester (three strikes and you're out). 

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