A bill proposed in the Ohio Legislature is seeking to implement additional prison sentences for repeat violent offenders and those convicted of firearm offenses.
Senate Bill 97, which is sponsored by state Sen. Jim Hughes and Sen. Frank LaRose, will allow the state to actively decrease the number of violent repeat offenders, Hughes said. According to Ohio Senate Republicans, Hughes said the bill would help protect members of society from violent crime.
The Violent Career Criminal Act would classify any adult who has been convicted of at least two violent felonies as a "Violent Career Criminal." In Ohio, violent felonies could include kidnapping, assault, aggravated assault, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, murder, homicide and robbery.
A Violent Career Criminal could be someone who within the preceding eight years has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to two or more violent felony offenses that are separated by intervening sentences and are not so closely related to each other and connected in time and place that they constitute a course of criminal conduct.
After being labeled a Violent Career Criminal, if a person commits an additional felony offense, under the proposed legislation he or she would be sentenced to an additional two to 11 years of mandatory prison time upon the discretion of the sentencing judge.
According to the bill, if someone is convicted of a firearm offense and he or she already has a firearm conviction, the mandatory prison term would increase by 50 percent. Some examples of common firearm offenses in Ohio include:
- Improper Discharge of a Firearm
- Providing Firearms to a Minor
- Using Firearms While Intoxicated
- Improperly Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle
- Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon
If someone is labeled a violent career criminal, he or she would not be able to own a firearm, according to the proposed bill. They also would not have able to have, carry or use any type of firearm or dangerous weapon. Doing so could mean additional criminal charges and penalties.
Currently, a convicted felon in Ohio is not allowed to possess a firearm. According to According to Ohio Revised Code §2923.13, no person shall knowingly acquire, have, carry or use any firearm or dangerous ordnance, if any of the following apply:
- The person is a fugitive from justice
- The person is drug dependent or a chronic alcoholic
- The person is under adjudication of mental incompetence or has been found to be mentally ill
- The person is under indictment for or has been convicted of any felony offense of violence or the illegal possession, use, sale, administration, distribution or trafficking in any drug of abuse
The charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is classified as a felony of the third degree. This charge, if convicted, comes with a presumptive sentence of up to 5 years in prison, fines of up to $10,000 or both.
If this bill passes, offenders could face even harsher penalties and more extensive prison sentences. The best way to avoid these drastic consequences is to avoid a conviction. If you are charged with a violent offense or a firearm crime, contact an experienced Columbus criminal defense attorney.