Potter Law Blog

Verdict: Not Guilty - 6/8/2018

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated or OVI claimed 405 lives in the state of Ohio in 2017. There were about 279,000 enforcement stops, out of which there were about 10,000 OVI enforcement. Many of these have been attributed to teen drunk driving. This year there have already been 380 fatalities car crashes, 30% of which were OVI-related.

The Problem:

Over the years, OVI-related crashes and fatalities due to teen drunk driving have been on the rise in Ohio. Even though 10% of the licensed drivers are under 21, they account for over 13% of OVI-related fatalities. The Ohio DUI laws distinguish teen drunk driving as UDD (underage drinking and driving). The legal limit for blood alcohol level concentration (BAC) for drivers over 21 years is 0.08%, but a UDD can be triggered by a BAC of 0.02%. Penalties for 1st offense DUI can range from 3-6 days of jail time to a fine of $250 to $1000 and license suspension from 6 months to 3 years. A DUI conviction in an underage also carries 4 points on the driver’s record. A skilled DUI attorney can help provide the best defense against OVI. He/she will recognize the felony, charges and the penalties that come with teen drunk driving.   

Consultation:

Let’s consider that a public defender is also capable enough to handle DUI conviction and DUI defense. However, the best DUI lawyer knows about OVI and its related intricacies inside out. They will not only be able to assess the situation from the point of view of the traffic officials but also the judges. So which DUI defense lawyer gives the best results? Always go or the ones who not only have the most experience in OVI cases but also the rights and interests of the offender. The best DUI lawyer will take a critical but aggressive stance on teen drunk driving. One who is familiar with all facets of Ohio DUI laws. One who is presumably a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Ohio State Bar Association. A myriad of social and personal pressures can make a teen commit OVI. The DUI attorney would be aware and sympathetic towards that. The best lawyer would provide DUI defense against the Ohio DUI laws regardless of how dire the circumstances are.

Solution:

The case against drunk teen driving can be charged on several grounds; breath test, serum test, previous traffic and criminal records, the level of BAC, etc. The DUI attorney might appeal for a higher breath test. For a 1st offense DUI, the DUI attorney might appeal to the lack of prior OVI records and the level of alcohol in the bloodstream. To clarify, it is not illegal for an underage person to drink and drive. However, the level of BAC has to be lower than 0.02%. For a DUI conviction, the state would have to prove that the defender was impaired by the consumption of alcohol. Therefore, the best DUI attorney would first attack the results of the breath test. He/she will then question whether or not the defender was impaired by consumption of alcohol and whether the case even registers as an OVI by the Ohio DUI laws. 

The extra mile:

DUI conviction for teen drunk driving is a serious offence under the Ohio DUI laws. However, an expert DUI attorney has a number of tricks up his sleeve to help his/her client. They will do a thorough investigation and preparation to gather positive evidence to present at the hearing. They can call for motions to curb evidence from the state on grounds of deficiency in proof and reprehensible handling of field sobriety tests. If everything fails, the best DUI attorney can negotiate for a reduced sentence even in high tier blow, which signifies a BAC of over 0.17%.

Conclusion:

In short, the Ohio DUI laws are strict specially on teen drunk driving. But the best DUI attorney will always have a trick or two up his sleeve in order to protect his client. They are dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of their client, examining every piece of evidence that the state produces against the presumed innocent and prevent it from being used. They will burden the prosecution to have all charges dropped. But if the case is too severe, they will always be capable of settling a lesser sentence with the state. 

First-Offense OVI/DUI in Ohio - 6/1/2018

In Ohio, DUI (driving under the influence) is generally referred to as “OVI” (operating a vehicle under the influence). You can be convicted of OVI if you operate a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (or a urine alcohol concentration of .110 or more)
  • with a certain concentration of amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine, or PCP in your body, or
  • while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two.

For purposes of the OVI statute, “under the influence” means the person’s ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs.

(See our facebook page for the BAC chart for an estimate of how many drinks it takes to get to the legal limit.)

When you’re arrested for most crimes, you aren’t subject to penalties unless actually convicted of the offense (either by plea bargaining or conviction at trial). But if you’re lawfully arrested for OVI, there can be administrative consequences—such as license suspension and fees—regardless of whether you’re convicted of an OVI in criminal court. And if you are ultimately convicted of OVI, you’ll face additional criminal penalties.

This article discusses first-offense OVI penalties (also see second and third offense consequences). For most purposes, an OVI is considered a first offense if you haven’t had an OVI in the past ten years.

Administrative Penalties

The process. If you’re lawfully arrested for a first-offense OVI and chemical testing shows your BAC or urine alcohol concentrations exceed the legal limits—or if you refuse testing—the arresting agency will immediately confiscate your license, and you will be subject to an administrative license suspension from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). You have 30 days from your arraignment to challenge the suspension.

Over the legal limit. If your blood test shows a BAC of .08% or more, or your urine test shows an alcohol concentration of .110 or more, the BMV will suspend your license for one to three years. After a 15-day “hard suspension” you may be eligible for a restricted license (see specifics below).

Refusals. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test in violation of Ohio’s “implied consent” law, your license will automatically be suspended for one year. You may still be eligible for a restricted license, but your hard suspension will be for 30 days.

Restricted license. Once you complete the hard suspension period, you can apply to the court for a restricted license. The judge can—but isn’t required to—grant limited driving privileges with requirements that might include restricted hours, special offender license plates, and any other conditions the judge deems appropriate. The judge can also grant unlimited driving privileges if you agree to install an ignition interlock device .

Criminal Penalties

Penalties for a first OVI conviction in Ohio vary by degree of intoxication. For a “low level” OVI (BAC of less than .17%) you can be sentenced to:

  • a minimum three days in jail or mandatory attendance at a three-day Drivers Intervention Program
  • up to 5 years of probation
  • a fine from $375 to $1,075 and related fees, and
  • a court-imposed license suspension of one to three years.

You may be able to avoid some portion of Jail and license suspension by agreeing to use an ignition interlock device.

For a “high level” OVI—a BAC of .17% or higher or refusal of a chemical test—you can expect doubled jail time and mandated display of restricted license plates.

Getting Legal Help

Ohio’s DUI laws are complicated, and the facts of each case are different. If you’ve been arrested or charged for OVI, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area who can help you decide how best to proceed with your case. It’s never too late to contact an attorney. If you are seeking representation, contact Skip Potter for a consultation

SOURCE: https://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/ohio-first-offense-ovi-dui.htm

What Is The Difference Between A Misdemeanor And A Felony In Ohio? - 5/29/2018

 

In Ohio, criminal offenses are divided into Misdemeanors and Felonies based on their maximum potential punishment. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor in Ohio is up to 6 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Felonies have potential sentences that are far more severe and can result in imprisonment in the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

When charged with a crime, it makes a considerable difference whether the defendant is looking at misdemeanor or felony charges. This holds true in any state, and Ohio is no exception.

Felony charges carry a minimum sentence of a year in prison along with heavy fines. In contrast, for the most serious misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is a year in jail, not prison. Local governments and sheriffs run jails, which hold defendants waiting for trial or offenders convicted of misdemeanors. State and federal governments run prisons, which hold offenders convicted of felonies, ranging from violent crimes such as rape or murder to white-collar crimes like identity theft or embezzlement. Whenever a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate a plea that reduces charges from a felony to a misdemeanor, the defense crosses a milestone in handling the case.

Maximum sentences for misdemeanor offenses are set forth in R.C. 2929.24 and 2929.28.  You should check the current version of these sections for any changes.  However, the current maximum sentences for misdemeanors are as follows:

  • 1st Degree Misdemeanor Jail: 180 days maximum Fine: $1,000.00 maximum
  • 2nd Degree Misdemeanor Jail: 90 days maximum Fine: $750.00 maximum
  • 3rd Degree Misdemeanor Jail: 60 days maximum Fine: $500.00 maximum
  • 4th Degree Misdemeanor Jail 30 days maximum Fine: $250.00 maximum
  • Minor Misdemeanor  Jail: None allowed  Fine: $150.00 maximum

The classification of a charge as either a misdemeanor or felony also affects your right to a speedy trial. For example:

  • Minor misdemeanor – your speedy trial right is 30 days
  • 3rd or 4th degree misdemeanor – your right to a speedy trial is 45 days
  • 1st or 2nd degree misdemeanor – your right to a speedy trial is 90 days
  • Felony – your speedy trial right is 270 days

For the purpose of calculating whether your speedy trial rights have been violated, each day spent in jail counts as 3 days toward your speedy trial deadline.  Because your right to a speedy trial can be of critical strategic importance, you should never waive your right to a speedy trial without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

You are also entitled to a jury trial for both felony and misdemeanor offenses. However, if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you must immediately request a trial by jury in order to preserve your right.  If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense in Ohio, it is critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your right to a jury trial has been properly preserved.

If you are seeking an experienced criminal defense attorney and would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office to schedule an appointment

SOURCE: https://blogs.lawyers.com/attorney/criminal-law/the-difference-between-felonies-and-misdemeanors-in-ohio-16952/

What Happens If You Violate Your Probation? - 4/20/2018

What happens if you violate your probation?

In criminal cases, a judge will often grant probation, releasing a defendant convicted of a crime back into the community under certain restrictions. Conditions of probation can include drug testing, meeting with a probation officer, and electronic location monitoring — anything a judge deems reasonable and appropriate.

If you fail to adhere to those conditions, you could just get off with a slap on the wrist — or you could fare much worse. Here are five potential consequences of a probation violation:

  • A warning. Probation officers have broad discretion for punishing probation violators. If your violation is minor or merely technical or unintentional, then your probation officer may just issue a warning and put you on notice that any future violations will be punished more severely.
  • A probation hearing. If you have already received a warning or have a history of past violations, your probation officer may order a probation hearing. If the judge at the probation hearing finds that you violated your probation, he may add additional terms to your probation or revoke it altogether. 
  • Additional probation terms. If the judge finds that you have violated the rules of your probation, he may simply add additional requirements to your original probation or extend it for a longer period of time. Like probation officers, judges have discretion to consider the circumstances of your violation, past violations and other factors in determining the punishment for violating your probation.
  • Fines. In addition to or in lieu of additional probation terms, a judge may order you to pay fines, even if you’ve already paid fines as part of your original sentencing.
  • Jail or prison. The judge may also sentence you to serve time in jail or prison, depending on the severity of your original offense and the severity of your violation. Because of your violation, your sentence may end up being longer than you would have had to serve in the first place. In most states, just as with a criminal conviction, a revocation of probation can be appealed.

If you are concerned that you may have violated your probation, or if you’re facing a probation violation hearing, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you stay out of jail. If you are seeking representation, contact us now and schedule a confidential consultation.

SOURCE: http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2014/05/what-happens-if-you-violate-your-probation.html

Possession of Marijuana and What to Expect - 4/13/2018

Possession of Marijuana

Being caught with marijuana in Ohio can be scary. Because marijuana laws vary greatly from state to state, you are probably unsure of what kind of punishment you will be facing. Anytime there is a potential for a jail sentence, you are entitled to feel frightened.

Many people get caught in possession of marijuana. It is one controlled substance that has a low risk for dependency and Ohio law treats it accordingly. If this is your first offense of this kind, you have little to worry about.

However, if this is your first time within the criminal court system, it is understandable that you would be stressed and worried about what the outcome may be. Your safest first move is to retain qualified counsel who can help you wade through the Ohio criminal courts system and come out with a positive outcome.

Marijuana Possession – Laws & Penalties

Possession of marijuana in Ohio has been decriminalized to a certain extent. This just means that for minor possession charges you will not be prosecuted aggressively, and won’t face harsh penalties.

If you are caught with less than 100 grams of marijuana, you will be cited with a “minor misdemeanor” and pay a fine of $100.

When you are caught with more than 100 grams, the offense becomes a criminal matter and you will face more serious charges.

100-200 grams 4th degree misdemeanor Up to 30 days in jail $250 in fines.
200-1,000 grams 5th degree felony 6 months to 1 year in prison and $2,500 in fines.
1,000- 5,000 grams 3rd degree felony 1-5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
5,000- 20,000 grams 3rd degree felony 1-5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
20,000 grams or more 2nd degree felony 2-8 years and up to $15,000 in fines.

Ref: ORC2925.11

Possession of drug paraphernalia associated with marijuana (pipes, water bongs) is a minor misdemeanor, as is possession of under 100 grams.

This passed as Senate Bill 337 and went into effect on Sept 28, 2012. Previously, this offense was a categorized as a fourth degree misdemeanor.

Ohio Marijuana Sale/ Delivery Laws & Penalties

If you are charged with attempting to sell or actually delivering marijuana, the penalties are raised. However, if the amount is less than 20 grams you will only face a minor misdemeanor charge and $100 fine.

However, if you are caught trying to deliver or sell any amount greater than 20 grams, you could be facing serious felony charges and a lengthy prison term.

Can I Avoid Harsh Penalties on a Marijuana Offense in Ohio?

Yes, in many cases you can. Ohio criminal courts are typically lenient on first time offenders and offer pre-trial diversion and other sentencing alternatives to qualified defendants. Call for a consultation on your marijuana charge so we can discuss the alternatives that may be available to you.

We have defended cases just like yours in Ohio. We know the courtroom players and have gained respect within the legal community. We can be your advocate in a system that can sometimes seem overwhelming. 

SOURCE: http://www.myohiodefenselawyer.com/criminal-charges/possession-marijuana/

Can Past Convictions Affect My Criminal Case? - 4/6/2018

As the saying goes, “when it comes to human beings, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” But can pop psychology mantras be maxims of law in criminal courts? Can evidence of past crimes, even far off or juvenile offenses, be used against you in a new case?

It’s a broad question, and one that can only be answered with a few specifics, additional circumstances, and, of course, some caveats. Here’s what you need to know.

Pre-Trial

Police and prosecutors will generally have access to all of your criminal records. Even if you’ve had them expunged, law enforcement can see if you have past convictions, and those past convictions can affect what kind of charges will be filed against you and the kind of plea bargain prosecutors may offer in your case. Often, a second or third offense (of the same crime) can be charged as a felony, meaning increased penalties or prison time, and prosecutors are far less inclined to be lenient with a repeat offender.

Additionally, if the past conviction included probation or parole, a new arrest or criminal charges could violate the conditions of your release, possibly sending you to jail. And if you remain subject to a suspended sentence or deferred prosecution, those prior charges could be reinstated.

During Trial

As general rule, the law leans in the opposite way of psychologists when it comes to predictive behavior, and past criminal behavior cannot be used to prove that you committed a crime. Even if you’ve been convicted of a DUI, prosecutors can’t use that to say you drove drunk again.

But there may be exceptions if you choose to testify on your own behalf. While you are not legally required to do so, if you choose to take the stand, your credibility as a witness will be an issue. This may open the door for prosecutors to ask about past convictions, provided they will shed light on your reliability as a witness or propensity to tell the truth. Even then, there are a variety of factors that will determine whether the past convictions will be relevant, or admissible as evidence.

Representation

The best way to know whether and how your past crimes may come back to haunt you is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you are seeking representation, contact us now to schedule a confidential consultation

SOURCE: http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2017/02/will-evidence-of-past-convictions-affect-my-criminal-case.html

The Ohio Felony Process - 3/22/2018

If you or someone you know has been charged with an Ohio felony, you will want to educate yourself on the law as much as possible. In addition, it would be wise for you to consult with an Ohio criminal lawyer about your case to better understand the process and to develop a defense strategy.

Probable Cause & the Search

Most people think the Ohio felony process begins with the arrest, but this is not necessarily true. Although police officers may be able to catch criminals committing certain crimes in the act, this is not always the case. That is why an investigation or search is necessary.

To conduct a search, a police officer will usually need to get a warrant from a court. This warrant allows the officer to check a specific location, such as your home, for evidence.

In order to get a search warrant, the officer must have probable cause that you committed or contributed to the crime. Probable cause means that it is highly likely.

However, officers do not always need to get a search warrant to search you, your car, or your property. For example, if you are arrested, the officer has a right to search your person. In addition, if you are arrested in a vehicle, the officer has the right to search your vehicle without a warrant.

The Arrest and Your Rights

If the police officer has sufficient reason to believe you have committed a crime, he or she will place you under arrest.

At this point, you will be able to exercise certain constitutional rights that protect those taken into custody. For instance, you will have the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to answer any questions from police or investigators. This right allows you to avoid incriminating yourself by accident.

You will also have the right to an attorney. This means that once you are taken into custody, you will be able to call your lawyer, so that he or she can be present during questioning.

If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney appointed. This kind of attorney is known as a public defender.

Ohio Felony Arraignment

Within about three days of your arrest, you will be arraigned. This means that the charges against you will be read aloud in court and you will have the ability to enter your plea. In Ohio, your plea options include:

  • Pleading guilty: This means that you admit that you did the crime.
  • Pleading not guilty: This means that you claim you did not commit the crime.
  • Pleading no contest: This means that although you do not admit guilt, you also do not dispute the charges. This plea is often used if a corresponding civil trial is expected.
  • Pleading mute: This means you do not enter a plea, and so the court enters a not guilty plea. This allows you to dispute the Ohio felony process up to that point.

Setting Bail

At the arraignment, the court may set bail for you. Bail is the amount of money you must pay in order to be let out before your trial takes place. It is to help ensure that you will not just flee and escape prosecution. In certain circumstances, the court may refuse to grant bail.

In Ohio, bail can be paid in cash, by pledging property or by a bail bond.

The Trial

Under Ohio felony laws, your trial will take place within 275 days after the arrest was made. You will have the right to a jury trial; however, you may file a written waiver with the court to waive this right.

As per the Constitution, your trial will be speedy. If you are found guilty, you will have 30 days to file an appeal.

Attorney

If you are seeking counsel, don’t hesitate, give our office a call. Mr. Potter has been practicing criminal defense for over 35 years and he is ready to assist you with your legal needs.

SOURCE: http://www.attorneys.com/criminal-defense/ohio/the-felony-process/

What to do if you’re arrested for OVI - 2/4/2018

What used to be known as DUI charges in the state of Ohio is now referred to as an OVI, or operating a vehicle impaired. What many people do not know about OVI/DUI charges is that the law is not limited to individuals driving a traditional vehicle, like a car or truck. An officer can charge you with drunk driving if you are driving a golf cart, ATV, lawnmower or even riding a bicycle.

If you think you can avoid an OVI/DUI arrest by sleeping it off in the car before heading home, you would be wrong. An officer can pursue OVI/DUI charges against any individual who is “in control” of the vehicle. Under Ohio law, if you are in the driver’s seat and have the keys in your position, you are in control of that vehicle and can face an OVI/ DUI arrest.   

Be polite, but don’t incriminate yourself

Whether you were pulled over for speeding or weaving out of your lane, a police officer is trained to identify evidence of intoxication from the moment they approach your vehicle. After finding a safe place to pull over, remain in your car with your hands on the steering wheel. Be polite and do not lie to the officer, however, you can decline to answer incriminating questions.

Any observation that an officer makes, slurred speech, alcohol or drugs that are visible in the vehicle, lack of coordination, etc., will be used as probable cause to justify the officer making an arrest for operating a vehicle impaired. Don’t add to that evidence by answering “how much have you had to drink” with a response of “5 beers and 3 shots of tequila.” You have the right not to answer, and your OVI/DUI attorney will thank you.  

After an arrest, it is your attorney’s job to review any evidence the officer collected to determine if the officer was justified in administering a field sobriety test and/or arresting you. Charges can be thrown out if this evidence does not hold up, but not if you incriminate yourself with your responses.

 Breathalyzers and chemical tests

When you are detained for suspicion of drunk driving, the officer may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer or request a urine or blood test to determine if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  You do have right to refuse, however you will face an OVI/DUI arrest and will automatically loose your license for a minimum of one year. This is outlined in Ohio’s implied consent law. Nevertheless, it is advantageous if you refuse to blow, which will make it harder for the officer to compile evidence against you.

Your rights after an arrest

Ohio law finds a driver to be “under the influence” if there is a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. An OVI charge is not limited to alcohol, however. The use of drugs, legal or otherwise, that impair your ability to operate a vehicle can lead to an OVI charge.

Your OVI/DUI defense begins as soon as you are pulled over. When you are arrested, you have the right to request an OVI/DUI lawyer who can advise you of your options. In situations like this, you want an OVI/DUI lawyer who is not only experienced in dealing with Ohio laws, but is also available 24/7. The Law Office of Skip Potter has been representing individuals in northwest Ohio for 30 years. If you want a lawyer you can trust to help you make the best legal decisions in a difficult situation, you want Skip Potter on your side.

What is PROBABLE CAUSE? - 1/20/2018

What is Probable Cause

Probable cause is loosely defined as a reasonable belief that an individual has, is, or will commit a crime. In order to prove probable cause, a police officer must have factual knowledge and evidence for a judge to sign off on a warrant for arrest as well as the search and/or seizure of property.

Establishing Probable Cause

Although factual evidence must be provided to prove probable cause, police are not expected to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at this stage. They simply need to provide sufficient knowledge of objective facts that support their belief that a person may have committed a crime.

Sources of probable cause can come from any of the following categories:

  • Observation – This can include information an officer collects through sight, smell or sound. For example, the smell or visual evidence of drugs give an officer probable cause for an arrest, search and seizure of evidence.
  • Circumstantial evidence – This is evidence that indirectly indicates that a crime has been committed (for example, a broken window). Although this evidence does not prove guilt, it does provide probable cause in an investigation.
  • Expertise – Police officers are trained to identify movements, gestures and tools that indicate criminal activity. Their expertise in this area can provide sufficient evidence for a judge to sign off on probable cause.
  • Information – This includes statements taken from witnesses, victims and informants.
  • Consent – When a defendant voluntarily agrees to a search, probable cause is automatically established.
  • Traffic Violations – To justify a traffic stop, an officer must personally observe a violation. This could include running a stoplight, weaving across lanes or failing to signal, just to name a few.

 Who determines if Probable Cause Exists

Although the police officer must provide the evidence to establish probable cause, a judge will give the final determination. There is no set amount of information required to prove probable cause, so the judge must balance the rights of the police to conduct an investigation with the rights of the individual, which are protected by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In some situations, police will establish probable cause in the moment and make an arrest. In these cases, a judge may later determine that the evidence the officers acted on was not sufficient, making any evidence collected inadmissible in court.

For this reason, obtaining an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential. Skip Potter offers tough, aggressive legal advice and representation that will help you make sound decisions when handling your legal issues. Don’t wait, call today for a free, confidential consultation at 419.353.7547.