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Ohio Legal Issues Blog

Are Breath Test Machines Accurate?

Nearly one million Americans are arrested for impaired driving every year. And when many of those individuals are told they failed a breath test, they often feel as though there is no hope other than to plead guilty to an OVI/DUI.

However, a recent New York Times article highlighted the fact many of these breath test machines-or "breathalyzers" as many people call them-are unreliable. In fact, an investigation revealed the number of breathalyzers that produce inaccurate results is both, enormous and frightening. 

Marijuana Legalization And Ohio OVI Law

As most people know, medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio in 2016 and medical cannabis sales through dispensaries became legal in 2019. While a obtaining a medical marijuana card enables individuals to use marijuana in accordance with a doctor's prescription, many individuals believe it is a free pass to use the marijuana in whatever manner; however, it is not. There are many restrictions on its use. For instance, an individual cannot smoke medical marijuana. Anyone prescribed medical marijuana should use it in accordance with a medical doctor's prescription both, in terms of the amount used and the method of use.

Additionally, a medical marijuana card is not a free pass to use marijuana whenever a patient wishes to use it. For instance, individuals with a medical marijuana card must be careful to not use it to the point of impairment and get behind the wheel. It is important to understand that even though marijuana is legal and readily available for medical purposes, the OVI laws have not changed. Just like any prescription medication, if a police officer has probable cause to believe an individual is impaired -regardless of whether the substance causing the impairment was taken legally or illegally-the officer can charge and arrest the individual with an OVI. Using medical marijuana and driving is extremely risky business. 

Can A Prosecutor Threaten Me with Additional Charges To Induce A Plea?

If you have been exposed to the criminal justice system, you've likely witnessed the tremendous power of the prosecution. In a criminal case, the prosecutor has a substantial amount of influence, even before a trial begins.

A current example of the prosecution's power and influence can be seen in the ongoing college admissions scandal. Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, along with fifty other defendants, are charged with bribery, wire fraud, and money laundering. The defendants in these cases are accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure their children were accepted into high profile institutions. Initially, both Loughlin and Huffman claimed innocence and refused to enter into plea negotiations with the prosecution. However, as the investigation continued, Huffman decided to change her plea to guilty and was sentenced to fourteen days in prison and fined thirty thousand dollars. To avoid increased charges and further indictments by the prosecution, other defendants also began changing their pleas to guilty. Because of the threats by the prosecution to increase charges, twenty-nine of the fifty-two defendants have now changed their plea to guilty. This leaves most people asking whether the prosecution can threaten increased charges and new indictments to pressure a criminal defendant to take a plea. 

Is A Legal Separation Right For Me?

Choosing to file for divorce is a very difficult decision. Sometimes due to varying situations, the spouses want to explore alternative choices in lieu of filing for divorce. One of those alternatives is a legal separation.

What is a legal separation?

A legal separation, ordered through a Decree of Legal Separation, legally separates the parties but does not sever the marriage as a divorce or dissolution would. While a divorce and a legal separation are filed with the Court in much the same way, in order to obtain a legal separation, both spouses must agree to the filing. If either spouse files for a divorce, a legal separation will not be granted. 

Hiring A Lawyer For A Misdemeanor

Criminal charges are scary. A criminal conviction, even a misdemeanor, carries several collateral consequences including employment restrictions, incarceration, lost school opportunities, and reputational costs. Fighting criminal charges can be costly and stressful.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, you likely have a number of questions. Some questions we often hear are "how serious could it be?" and "do I need an attorney?" Ohio separates crimes into two main categories; felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are the least severe category but can be very serious. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, it is important to understand the potential punishments. 

Will The Court Punish My Ex For Having An Affair?

Like many issues in domestic relations, seeking to be reimbursed by the domestic relations court when your spouse has irrevocably broken the marriage vows through actions such as an affair would fall into the category of "it depends."

Finding out your spouse has carried on an affair during the marriage is justifiably an emotional gut punch and may lead to a divorce filing. Above all, it must be reiterated that the domestic relations court is a court of equity and not a court to punish. 

Murder: Life In Prison, Sometimes Death Row

In Ohio, a person charged with murder is accused of killing another human being purposefully; in other words, "murder" is when someone intends to kill another person. If no intent to kill exists, then it's not "murder." Anyone that is convicted of murder must be sentenced to life in prison, no exceptions. However, sometimes a conviction for murder can also result in the death penalty.

The crime of murder is one of many crimes in Ohio that covers actions that cause the death of another human being-or in legalese: homicide. While in everyday conversations we use "murder" to cover a broad range of different crimes, Ohio law has seven different offenses, of varying degrees of punishment, for what we all think of as "murder." 

False Confessions - They Happen All The Time

Most people believe that they would "never confess to a crime that they didn't commit." And yet, 38% of juveniles who were later found to be not guilty involved false confessions1. The Innocence Project found that 25% of cases where a convicted defendant was later released after DNA proved s/he was innocent involved false confessions2.

Why would people ever admit to committing crime if they were not guilty? The interrogation methods used by the police heavily influence the statements of the people they are interviewing. If a person feels tricked, confused, or like s/he must agree with what the police officer tells them is true, a false confession can occur.

Ohio Is Leading The Way For Change

Notaries are very important to law firms in order to bind documents and ensure documents are being executed properly. Now, Ohio is leading the way for change pertaining to a more modern way of notarizing documents.

Soon, electronic notarization will be allowed to make authenticating documents easier and faster. 

The (Un)Reliability of Witness Testimony

"But I have an eyewitness!" Criminal lawyers so often turn to this phrase thinking that it is the silver bullet in a negotiation or trial. A recent New York Times piece, however, cites the growing body of evidence that ""eyewitness testimony is the least reliable evidence you can have."

Historically, criminal attorneys have attacked the reliability of eyewitnesses through asking questions about the witnesses' perceptions, prejudices, and contradictory statements. It turns out that we should have been asking about the witness's hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis instead. Why? This is the stress-response mechanism in the body that "causes a person to have tunnel vision in the extreme or a really narrow snapshot of what happened." 

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