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Ohio's Sexually Violent Predator Specification

Ohio Revised Code § 2941.148 outlines Ohio's sexually violent predator specification. It can be applied to sexually violent offenses-namely homicide, assault, and kidnapping. This specification can be used to add onto or enhance sentences. The exact enhancement depends on the underlying sexual offense. Ohio Revised Code § 2971.03 lists a number of specific underlying offenses and the corresponding specification sentence. In many instances the specification carries the possibility of life in prison. 

As with any specification, a grand jury must first indict a defendant on it. From there, the defendant has the option to have a jury or judge determine the validity of the specification at trial. If the defendant elects to have a jury trial on the underlying offense, he or she can still elect to have the judge made the determination on the specification. Procedurally, the sexually violent predator specification is not determined unless and until the defendant has first been found guilty on the underlying defense.

Ohio Revised Code § 2971.01(H)(2) enumerates the factors to be considered by the trier of fact when determining whether the defendant is a sexually violent predator:

(a) The person has been convicted two or more times, in separate criminal actions, of a sexually oriented offense or a child-victim oriented offense.

(b) The person has a documented history from childhood, into the juvenile developmental years, that exhibits sexually deviant behavior.

(c) Available information or evidence suggests that the person chronically commits offenses with a sexual motivation.

(d) The person has committed one or more offenses in which the person has tortured or engaged in ritualistic acts with one or more victims.

(e) The person has committed one or more offenses in which one or more victims were physically harmed to the degree that the particular victim's life was in jeopardy.

(f) Any other relevant evidence.

Subsection (f) essentially allows any and all potentially relevant evidence on this issue to come before the trier of fact and requires a solid defense attorney to protect his or her client. 

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