One of the stated missions of OACDL is to serve as a public policy resource for the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government, seeking to promote the formulation of sound criminal justice law-making and responsible law enforcement. To that end, OACDL is committed to an active role in pending criminal justice legislation and rules governing practice and procedure in the courts of Ohio.
Providing an independent, expert resource to Ohio criminal justice policy-makers and journalists covering criminal justice issues is an important OACDL function. Requests for information and advice on pending policy issues will receive a prompt and thorough response.
The Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL) would like to bring two important legislative bills to the attention of our members, the legal community and the citizens of Ohio. Both bills are proceeding to hearing this week in the Ohio legislature. These bills are Senate Bill 159 and House Bill 555. The summaries and links to the full text of these bills are below.
SB 159: SEALING RECORDS AFTER PARDON (WILLIAMS S) To permit a person to apply for the sealing of the official records pertaining to a case in which the person was convicted of an offense for which the person is granted a pardon.
Summary: The bill allows any person who is granted, by the governor, an absolute and entire pardon; a partial pardon; or a pardon upon conditions precedent or subsequent may apply to the court for an order to seal the person's official records in the case in which the person was convicted of the offense for which any of those types of pardon is granted.
SB 159 Full Text:
HB 555: RETROACTIVE PENALTY REDUCTION (WEST T, SYKES E) To provide that a reduction of a penalty, forfeiture, or punishment for an offense applies with respect to an offender who committed that offense on or after the bill's effective date or, if the offense is not an offense of violence, prior to that date and was sentenced for the offense under the law in effect prior to the reduction.
Summary: The bill allows for a defendant to file a motion with the court asking for a reduction in "penalty, forfeiture, or punishment." The bill is retroactive other than offenses of violence. A defendant can only ask for a reduction for an offense of violence if the defendant was sentenced after the bill's effective date. The reduction can be a shortening of the sentence, a reduction in the degree of the felony or misdemeanor conviction, or any change that shortens or makes a less stringent the penalty. The bill requires the AG to review all bills to determine if they include a reduction in a penalty, forfeiture, or punishment for an offense. If the AG does determine a bill will implement a reduction, the AG must send a notice to DRC alerting them to the reduction.
HB 555 Full Text:
The OACDL offers its support to these bills as SB 159 offers a practical common sense solution to an ambiguous legal situation and HB 555 codifies and clarifies potential confusion involving sentencing issues.