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Ohio Legal Issues Blog

Sex Education: A FAQ blog series about sex crimes in Ohio

Sex Education, Part One:

Let's Talk About "Sex" 

Most Americans grow up with sex education being a separate unit in their Health class in 4th or 5th grade. Awkward pictures and videos are used to explain the biological and anatomical processes behind sexual intercourse. Teachers stumble through the classes amidst snickering and crude comments by their students. Taboo topics are typically avoided, and many students are left to the experience sexual intercourse in real time without much guidance.

This blog series seeks to help to Ohioans understand what the Ohio Revised Code says about sex crimes, the punishments for those crimes, and the sex offender registry. Unlike our Health class growing up, this series seeks to directly address important issues that we commonly received questions on from our clients. 

Auto Insurance: "Full Coverage" Does Not Mean You Are Protected

One of the first things we obtain following a car crash is a copy of our client's automobile insurance policy. People frequently tell us that they have "full coverage" despite not having critical protections for their family. The misconception begins with Ohio law and insurance agents.

Ohio law

In Ohio, a person has enough coverage to be legal with a liability limit of $25,000. Liability limits apply to other people that could be injured as a result of your own mistakes. Most insurance companies believe that people are likely to become customers if they have the cheapest legal insurance available. As a result they do not aggressively sell coverages that are necessary but not required under Ohio law. 

Butler County Judge Admits Bias In Sex Offense Cases

Butler County Judge Charles Pater has refused to preside over future cases involving sex crimes. His recusal is due to a written admission issued two months ago stating he may have been biased in sentencing a defendant based upon Judge Pater's own personal experience with a family member who was a victim of a sex crime.

The defendant whose sentence may have been impacted by Judge Pater's experience is Dustin Lawrence. He was convicted in 2016 of raping his girlfriend's 16 year-old daughter. 

High Risk of Criminal Prosecution for Marijuana Users: Many Criminal Penalties Remain Despite Legalization of Medical Marijuana in Ohio

Medical marijuana was effectively legal in Ohio on September 8, 2018 and the first dispensaries opened in early 2019. In the coming months and years, we anticipate Ohio will see more dispensaries and more medical marijuana patients. Despite the legalization, medical marijuana patients and marijuana users have a number of legal pitfalls and restrictions.

THC and Marijuana Metabolite

The active ingredient in marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol (referred to as THC). THC causes psychological and physiological effects on the human body. The most accurate way to determine if a person's mind is altered by the use of marijuana is measuring the THC content of a person's blood or urine.

A Fresh Start? Examining Ohio's Updated Expungement Law

Those with a history of low-level drug and theft charges that were previously prevented from having their cases expunged will be happy to know that the law has changed. Starting this year, the Ohio legislature has expanded the number and type of cases that can be expunged. This will benefit those who have long been haunted by past mistakes on background checks. 

Holiday Gift Sponsors Over 200 Warren County Students

The holiday season is a time for giving. This holiday season, Rittgers & Rittgers is giving $10,000 to a program that helps feed students in Warren County public schools through the Lebanon Warrior Backpack Program.

The Lebanon Warrior Backpack Program provides six meals to take home every Friday for students who qualify for free and reduced school lunch. The program partners with Kroger which provides bags for meals and Life House Church which provides a building for storing and packing food. Food is purchased from Shared Harvest Foodbank in Butler County. Because of the generous program partners, sponsorship for one student for the entire school year is only $45. 

Long Overdue, Church Order To Release Names Of Abusive Priests

On Monday, December 17, 2018, the Midwest and Maryland provinces of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, plan to release lists of priests dating back to 1955 who were accused of sexually abusing minors. As the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church, this revelation is long overdue and is due, in part, to the tireless work of attorneys across the country - like Rittgers & Rittgers' own Konrad Kircher and Ryan McGraw - on behalf of survivors of priest abuse.

Since the Boston Globe Spotlight series in 2002, demand has grown for church leaders to disclose the names of priests who were accused of abuse and how they responded. For too long, these calls went unanswered. Coupled with the Pope's recent summoning of Cardinals to the Vatican in yet another attempt to reevaluate the Church's response to child abuse and the recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, perhaps this revelation is a sign that things are finally changing for the better. 

Ohio's New BMV Program May Help You Get Your Driver's License Back

The Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative 

On January 31, 2019, more than one third of the 1.1 million Ohioans with suspended driver's licenses will have an opportunity to petition the BMV to reduce their reinstatement fees or waive them entirely. This opportunity falls under a new six month program called the Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative.

Not all individuals with suspended driver's licenses are eligible to apply for the program. For instance, the opportunity is not available for individuals convicted of an offense involving alcohol, drug abuse, or a deadly weapon, or where the basis of the charge involved any such factors. Instead, there are 25 specific offenses listed in the new law eligible for reinstatement relief. These include, but are not limited to: reckless operation, non-compliance/FRA suspensions, and failure to stop after an accident. 

Homeowner's Insurance Policies Part 2: Definition or Exclusion?

As you read your homeowner's insurance policy one thing that you will inevitably encounter are terms referencing other terms, referencing definitions, referencing back to other terms (never mind all of the exclusions). It can be maddening. A logical next question is whether these definitions are there to exclude coverage, or simply to define coverage. While our previous discussion about exclusions should give you some peace of mind that anything not specifically excluded should be covered under Ohio law, courts are instructed to read policies in their entirety, and not to ignore one part of a policy to the benefit of another.1 Courts must "give meaning to every paragraph, clause, phrase and word."2

For example, many policies define the place being insured as the "residence premise." They then define the "residence premise" as "the place where you reside." This begs the question, if you have insurance on a property where you are not living, is it covered? Here are some tips to help you determine the answer.

Domestic Violence Charge Dismissed

We recently represented a hard-working single father with no criminal record who is thirty-seven years old. His girlfriend told him that she would accuse him of domestic violence if he ended the relationship. When he ended the relationship, she followed through with her threat and called 911. She told the arresting officer he hit her a few times in the back of the head and pulled her hair. Our client denied harming her or any woman. Even though the officer noted in the complaint that he did not observe any injuries, he felt as though he had probable cause to charge and arrest our client and charge him with first degree misdemeanor domestic violence based solely upon the ex-girlfriend's statements.

Attorney Steve Kilburn spoke with our client's employer who received a call from a strange individual accusing his client of smoking marihuana. She called back and told his employer she had lied about the false accusation concerning the marihuana. There was no doubt in our mind this was our client's disgruntled ex-girlfriend who had falsely accused him of domestic violence around that same time. Additionally, while the case was pending, our client received a text message explicitly stating the ex-girlfriend had falsely accused him of domestic violence. The text message was sent from a phone number that matched the phone number on the ex-girlfriend's written witness statement. 

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