Rittgers & Rittgers, Attorneys at Law
Get Your Consultation Today

To protect your safety during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, we offer telephone and video conferences, in place of face-to-face meetings. Please contact our office today to set up a remote consultation. For more information, read our blog post.

Plea Bargains: Unfair Legal Fictions Or Reasonable And Fair Resolutions? The Ohio Supreme Court Recently Weighs In

When someone is charged with a crime and hires a defense attorney, the person's case does not go straight to a trial where guilt or innocence is determined. Instead, the defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor at a pretrial hearing on behalf of the individual. These negotiations are attempts to get charges dismissed or at the very least, to get charges amended to offenses carrying less severe penalties.

The latter situation is known as a plea bargain. A prosecutor may agree to dismiss a charge against someone if he or she pleads guilty to a lesser offense. This scenario avoids the need to take the case to a trial, saving judicial resources and taxpayer dollars. Further, the prosecutor saves time and the defendant faces less serious consequences-a win-win situation. 

Some plea bargains, however, are not favored by everyone, including many Ohio judges and the Ohio Supreme Court Rules Commission who recently pushed for changes in the way plea bargains are handled throughout the state. One of the leading advocates for the proposed change was Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael P. Donnelly who characterized many plea bargains as "factually baseless pleas."

Donnelly and others submitted a formal proposal to the Ohio Supreme Court, recommending it now require felony charges in plea bargains to be based on the actual circumstances of the underlying crimes. Several states and the federal court system require this.

In supporting the proposal, Donnelly cited hundreds of cases where defendants charged with sex crimes plead to non-sex offenses that did not square with the facts. The plea bargains helped avoid the sex-offender registration requirements. An example of this would be a defendant pleading guilty to assault after being charged with gross sexual imposition.

In a recent 4-2 decision without comment, the Ohio Supreme Court justices voted to not adopt the proposal. This was the correct decision. It allows defendants in the state to continue entering into felony plea bargains, pleading guilty to crimes that do not reflect the accusations; criminal charges are simply accusations. This promotes judicial economy and preserves the win-win situation for the State and the criminal defendant. 

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  1. Distinguished AV | LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell | Peer Review Rated For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
  2. Super Lawyers
  3. AVVO Rating 10.0 Superb
  4. Super Lawyers Rising Stars
  5. Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  6. Multi Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  7. The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  8. The National Trial Lawyers | Top 40 Under 40

Get Your Consultation Today. Call 513-932-2115.

Rittgers & Rittgers answers its phones 24/7. Call us anytime to secure your consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers. You can rely on us for elite representation from our deliberately small, family-run law firm.

Rittgers & Rittgers, Attorneys at Law

Lebanon Office
12 East Warren Street
Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Phone: 513-932-2115
Fax: 513-934-2201
Map & Directions

West Chester Office
9078 Union Centre Blvd.
Suite 350
West Chester, OH 45069

Phone: 513-932-9949
West Chester Law Office

Cincinnati Office
3734 Eastern Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45226

Phone: 513-932-7375
Map & Directions

Florence Office
7310 Turfway Road, Suite 550
Florence, KY 41042

Kentucky Law Office

Oxford Office
121 West High Street
Oxford, OH 45056

Phone: 513-524-5000
Fax: 513-524-5001
Map & Directions

Email Us Today

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Email Us Today