search and seizure laws ohio

Imagine being pulled over by police for no apparent reason. Once they pull you over, two police officers come up to your car and open your door. Then, without saying a word, one of them yanks you out of the driver’s seat. The two officers handcuff you and sit you down on a nearby curb as they start to search your car. This situation is exactly the type that the founders of our country hoped to prevent when they passed the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment provides that: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” While the text of the Fourth Amendment is hardly a model of clarity, it stands for everyone’s right to be free from unreasonable governmental searches and seizures. Search and Seizure Laws in Ohio In large part, the system of government in the United States allows for states to make their own laws. Federal law provides a “floor,” meaning states cannot provide their citizens fewer rights than federal law dictates. However, states are free to provide additional protections. Article 1 § 14 of the Ohio Constitution includes language that is identical to the Fourth Amendment. While the language is exactly the same as the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Ohio courts can interpret this language independently from how federal courts interpret the Fourth Amendment. Of course, provided that any difference confers additional rights and not fewer rights to our citizens. Given the fact that state law confers at least as much protection as federal law, when discussing Ohio search and seizure laws, it is important to start with federal law and then look to Ohio law to determine whether there are additional protections. What Makes a Search Illegal? Long ago, courts determined that police must obtain a warrant to execute a search or seizure. Otherwise, courts would deem the search or seizure “unreasonable.” To obtain a warrant, police officers must submit an affidavit to a magistrate judge. The magistrate reviews the facts in the affidavit and determines whether probable cause exists. If so, the magistrate can issue a warrant. However, over time, courts read in several exceptions to the warrant requirement. Thus, under the current state of the law, there are several situations in which police officers do not need to obtain a warrant. Consent If you consent to a search, police officers do not need to obtain a warrant. For example, if police ask to search your car and you agree, you cannot challenge the search based on a lack of probable cause. Plain View If an object is in plain view, police officers do not need a warrant to seize that item. For example, if police see a bag of drugs sitting on the seat of a car during a traffic stop, they do not need a warrant to open the door and seize it. Search Incident to a Lawful Arrest Once police arrest someone, they can conduct a limited search of the arrestee and the area in the arrestee’s immediate vicinity. For example, if police arrest you for shoplifting, they can search your pockets. Stop and Frisk If police officers have reasonable suspicion that someone is engaging in illegal activity, they can conduct a limited pat-down of the person. For example, if police respond to a call for a person with a gun and you match the description, they could lawfully conduct a stop and frisk. Car Searches Courts have held that citizens are still entitled to an expectation of privacy in their vehicles. However, due to the mobile nature of a vehicle, the courts have held that officers can conduct a search of a vehicle without a warrant, provided they have probable cause to do so. Hot Pursuit If police are in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect, they are allowed to follow him or her into a building without a warrant. If none of these exceptions exist, police officers must obtain a warrant. However, even when police conduct a search under one of these exceptions, an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney can challenge the applicability of the exception. What to Do After an Illegal Search? If police arrest you based on what you believe to be an illegal search or seizure, you have options. Under Ohio search and seizure laws, evidence obtained through illegal means can be suppressed. This means the government cannot use that evidence at trial. To challenge the admissibility of evidence, you must file a motion to suppress. A motion to suppress is a pre-trial motion asking the court to keep evidence out of trial. If the court grants the motion, then the prosecution is often left without any choice but to withdraw the case because they no longer have the evidence necessary to prove their case. Have You Been Arrested After a Questionable Search? If police arrested you after searching you, your car, or your home — you may be able to challenge the officer’s actions that lead to the discovery of evidence. At Gounaris Abboud, LPA., our Ohio search and seizure lawyers have extensive experience getting illegally obtained evidence excluded. We regularly litigate motions to suppress on behalf of our clients, often getting the cases against them withdrawn. Our attorneys handle all types of criminal offenses, including drug crimes, weapons offenses, violent crimes, and more. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an Ohio criminal defense lawyer, call us at 937-222-1515. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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Ohio Speed Limit Laws

Getting pulled over for speeding in Ohio can result in speeding ticket fines, an increase in insurance rates, and other consequences for drivers. Additionally, a conviction for violating the speed limit in Ohio adds points to your driving record. After a certain number of driving points accrue on your driving record, you could face the revocation of your driving privileges.  If you received a ticket for driving over the speed limit in Ohio, you might think hiring an attorney is a waste of time and just pay the fine. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. An Ohio attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to have your fine reduced or spare you the addition of penalty points on your Ohio driving record. Our defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA, represent clients charged with violations of speed limit laws in Ohio. Contact our office today to start your free case analysis. What Kind of Speed Limit Laws Exist in Ohio?  Ohio’s main speed limit law prohibits driving at a speed greater than is “reasonable or proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the street or highway and any other conditions.” Essentially, the speed limit law requires motorists to drive at a safe speed. What qualifies as a safe speed depends on the factors listed in the statute, in addition to other factors. For example, operating a vehicle during the day might allow drivers to go faster than when operating the vehicle at night, as the darkness factor makes driving less safe. The main speeding law also prohibits motorists from driving a vehicle “at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.” Absolute Speed Limits Most drivers are familiar with absolute speed limits, as absolute speed limits are the speeds posted on Ohio speed limit signs. If you drive faster than the posted speed limit, you violate Ohio’s speed limit sign law. Unless otherwise posted, Ohio outlines absolute speed limits for certain roadways in the state, such as: 70 miles per hour on rural freeways, 65 miles per hour on rural expressways and urban freeways, and 55 miles per hour on most other roadways. Ohio allows local jurisdictions to adjust speed limits within their boundaries, so the speed limit in one Ohio city will not necessarily match the speed limit in another city.  Prima Facie Speed Limits Ohio also implements prima facie speed limits, sometimes referred to as presumed speed limits. Unlike absolute speed limits, exceeding the prima facie speed limit does not automatically render you guilty. You can present evidence in court establishing that your driving speed was safe. If you can prove that your speed was safe, the judge should find you not guilty. Unless otherwise posted, Ohio’s prima facie speed limits include: 20 miles per hour in school zones, 15 miles per hour in alleyways within cities, and 25 miles per hour in residential and urban areas. While violating the prima facie speed limit creates a presumption that you violated Ohio’s speed limit law, you can rebut that presumption by demonstrating that your driving speed was safe. Penalties for Ohio Speed Limit Law Violations The penalties for violating Ohio speed limit laws vary depending on a number of factors, including your prior speed limit convictions and how many miles over the speed limit you were driving.  A first-time or second-time speed limit violation amounts to a minor misdemeanor charge. A minor misdemeanor carries the potential of a fine up to $150.  A third-speed limit violation within a one-year period qualifies as a fourth-degree misdemeanor. Fourth-degree misdemeanors carry the potential of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250.  Speed limit violations that involve driving faster than 35 miles per hour in a business district or faster than 35 miles per hour in a school zone amount to fourth-degree misdemeanors as well. A fourth or subsequent speed limit violation within a one-year period qualifies as a third-degree misdemeanor in Ohio. A third-degree misdemeanor carries the potential of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.  If the speeding violation occurred in a school or construction zone, the state typically doubles the fine amount. Ohio Point System and Speed Limit Law Violations Ohio assesses points against the driver records of motorists convicted of certain driving violations. If you accumulate 12 or more points within a two-year period, the state can suspend your driver’s license. Speed limit law violations warrant the assessment of points against your driving record, but the number of points depends on the violation. For example, a speeding violation involving speeds of less than 25 miles per hour above the speed limit results in two points against your driving record. A speeding violation involving speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour over the speed limit results in four points against your driving record.  If you accumulate 12 points against your driving record within a two-year period, the court will suspend your driver’s license for six months.  Facing Speed Limit Law Violations in Ohio? Contact an Attorney Today Though speed limit violations do not typically result in severe penalties, recurring violations can result in serious fines, the suspension of your driver’s license, and even jail time. Depending on the factors present in your case, an Ohio traffic attorney can argue that you were driving safely at the time of the alleged violation or present evidence that justifies your increased speed. At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, we pride ourselves on giving our clients the one-on-one attention needed to establish trust in the attorney-client relationship. Contact our office today to get started.

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ohio cyberbullying laws

With the rise in popularity of social media platforms, Ohio lawmakers passed statutes aimed to address the harm caused by cyberbullying. Cyberbullying refers to bullying that occurs over the internet or other electronic communication. If you are accused of cyberbullying in Ohio, you could face significant financial consequences. Our criminal defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA can answer any questions you have about cyberbullying laws in Ohio. Contact our office today for a free consultation. Does Ohio Have Cyberbullying Laws? Ohio does not have statutes specifically addressing cyberbullying. However, Ohio prosecutors can address cyberbullying under other criminal statutes. These Ohio laws encompass cyberbullying by including language about communications sent electronically. Telecommunications Harassment The first charge frequently associated with cyberbullying allegations is Ohio’s telecommunications harassment statute. This statute prohibits individuals from sending certain telecommunications, including making calls or sending messages: With the intent to harass, intimidate, or abuse the recipient or anyone at the recipient’s location; That describe, suggest, request, or propose that the recipient or any other person engage in sexual activity, in addition to the requirement that the recipient or a person with the recipient has requested that the sender stop contacting them; That causes the recipient to believe that the sender will cause serious physical harm to a person or piece of property; After the recipient or anyone at the recipient’s location has previously told the sender not to contact the recipient; and That contain any false statements concerning the death, injury, illness, disfigurement, reputation, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct of the recipient with the intent to abuse, threaten, intimidate, or harass the recipient. Ohio considers a telecommunications harassment charge a first-degree misdemeanor. First-degree misdemeanors in Ohio carry the potential of up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Prosecutors charge additional violations of the telecommunications harassment statute as fifth-degree felonies. Fifth-degree felonies in Ohio carry the potential of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Menacing by Stalking Alternatively, prosecutors can charge those accused of cyberbullying under Ohio’s “menacing by stalking” statute. Prosecutors file charges under this statute when an individual reportedly engaged in two or more acts that caused another person to believe that they were going to cause physical or mental harm to the other person or a member of that person’s family. Additionally, the menacing by stalking statute prohibits individuals from using electronic methods of communication to urge others to commit violations of the statute. Like the telecommunications harassment charge, Ohio considers a menacing by stalking charge a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum potential penalty includes 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, the existence of certain factors enhances or increases the seriousness of a menacing by stalking charge to a fourth-degree felony. Those factors that enhance the potential penalties include: A previous menacing by stalking conviction; When the accused made a threat of physical harm to or against the alleged victim; In committing the act of menacing by stalking, the accused trespassed on property where the alleged victim lived, worked, or attended school; The alleged victim is under 18 years old; or The accused has a history of violence toward the alleged victim. Fourth-degree felonies in Ohio carry the potential of up to 18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.  Other Laws Addressing Cyberbullying in Ohio In addition to criminal statutes, the Ohio legislature has implemented anti-bullying statutes that require all school boards to adopt model anti-bullying policies that prohibit bullying on school property or at school-sponsored events. The statute describes bullying as repeated acts between or among students that cause mental or physical harm. The repeated acts refer to any written, verbal, electronic, or physical act. Additionally, the anti-bullying laws encourage Ohio school districts to form bullying prevention task forces and engage in other initiatives to eliminate bullying. Consult with an Ohio Cyberbullying Attorney Today In many cases, the individuals prone to cyberbullying or online harassment charges are juveniles. Juveniles facing cyberbullying allegations may feel overwhelmed and confused. Our cyberbullying attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA can help you and your juvenile determine what strategy fits your situation. Collectively, our team has more than 30 years of experience in the courtroom. One of our managing partners, Attorney Nicolas G. Gounaris, has experience as a prosecutor, magistrate, and acting judge, giving him a unique outlook when it comes to defending criminal cases. Additionally, Mr. Gounaris received nominations from his peers to the Super Lawyers list for ten consecutive years, from 2012 through 2021. Further, Mr. Gounaris has been recognized by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDA) as a “Nationally Ranked Top 10” in 2014 and 2015 and was named as a recipient of the “10 Best Client Satisfaction” Award for Criminal Law by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys in 2014 and 2015. A criminal record can severely impact a juvenile’s future. Contact our team of criminal defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA as soon as possible so we can get started on our case.

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involuntary manslaughter charge

Charges of Ohio Involuntary Manslaughter Can Lead to Lengthy Prison Sentences: Get the Help You Need Now We take driving for granted. We love our cars, and we are used to the freedom driving a car allows us to experience. In fact, our lives depend on our ability to drive.  We forget that driving a motor vehicle is dangerous. Despite knowing the dangers of driving, we mindlessly get in our cars to go to work or school. However, our complacency when we drive could put us in dangerous positions. This is especially true after having a couple of drinks and then driving.  If you are in an accident after you’ve had a couple of drinks and someone dies, then you could face charges of involuntary manslaughter in Ohio. An Ohio involuntary manslaughter sentence could leave you behind bars for up to a decade or more. The Ohio involuntary manslaughter defense lawyers with Gounaris Abboud have helped countless clients who thought they had no way to win their case avoid the harsh penalties imposed by Ohio law. Gounaris Abboud’s experience, resources, and skills can help give you the best chance to avoid a long involuntary manslaughter sentence in Ohio. What Is Involuntary Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle in Ohio? Involuntary manslaughter by motor vehicle in Ohio generally refers to charges stemming from a fatal motor vehicle accident. Ohio law categorizes the charges based on the circumstances of how the crash occurred. The categories of crimes are: Aggravated vehicular homicide; Vehicular homicide; and Vehicular manslaughter. The penalties vary for these offenses depending on the facts of the case and your criminal record if you have one.  Aggravated Vehicular Homicide By OVI  In Ohio, a person is guilty of a second-degree felony for being the proximate cause of someone’s death in an accident if operating a vehicle while intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or both.  Ohio law defines this offense as aggravated vehicular homicide. A person convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide faces a minimum mandatory prison sentence. Under Ohio law, the judge must impose a minimum mandatory sentence of two, three, four, five, six, seven, or eight years. That means you are not eligible for parole or early release until you serve the minimum sentence.  The judge has to follow a formula that sets the maximum term you spent in prison. After the judge sets the minimum mandatory term of your sentence for involuntary manslaughter in Ohio, then the judge must set the maximum sentence. Ohio law instructs the judge to add 50% to the minimum sentence to arrive at the maximum sentence. The state will also revoke your license or driving privileges for life.  Ohio law allows the prosecution to bring charges against you that have enhanced sentences if certain conditions exist. You face a first-degree felony conviction for aggravated vehicular homicide if you meet those conditions. The prosecution can ask the judge to increase your involuntary manslaughter sentence in Ohio if you: Have three previous convictions for DUI/OVI within 10 years; Have a previous conviction for assault or manslaughter involving a traffic offense; Were driving without a license or on a suspended license; or Committed a combination of any of these offenses. A conviction for first-degree aggravated vehicular manslaughter could send you to prison for as long as 15 years or more depending on your record. Aggravated Vehicular Homicide by Reckless Conduct Aggravated vehicular homicide by reckless conduct is a third-degree felony. Recklessness is consciously disregarding an unjustifiable risk of harm. If a person died in an accident and you were driving recklessly or committing a reckless driving offense in a construction zone, then you are guilty of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide by Reckless conduct. You could spend up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony conviction. Your charges of involuntary manslaughter in Ohio could rise to a second-degree felony if the prosecution proves that enhanced sentences should be imposed. Enhanced sentences usually apply when you have prior convictions or drove while your license was suspended. Vehicular Homicide The charge of vehicular homicide applies to the death of someone in an accident caused by the negligent conduct of the driver. This charge also applies to the death of a person killed by a speeder in a construction zone if the crash occurred within the construction zone. A person drives negligently when failing to abide by the standard of care all drivers are expected to observe. The crime of vehicular homicide is a misdemeanor in the first degree. The maximum jail sentence is 180 days. However, the court must send anyone convicted of vehicular homicide to jail for a minimum of 15 days. You could face fourth-degree felony charges if your license was suspended or revoked when the fatal crash happened. Vehicular Manslaughter The term vehicular manslaughter in Ohio applies to car crashes that occur when the driver commits a minor misdemeanor that causes the death of another. Accidentally running a red light or not stopping at a stop sign are examples of minor misdemeanors. The maximum penalty for vehicular manslaughter by vehicle in Ohio is 90 days in jail. Notwithstanding, the prosecutor could ask to upgrade the charge to a first-degree misdemeanor if you drove on a suspended license when the crash happened. Defenses to Ohio Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Ohio The types of defenses available to you will depend on the facts of the case and your criminal record. You must not wait too long before talking to a qualified attorney about your case. Otherwise, you might lose out on valuable evidence that could help you with your defense.  At Gounaris Abboud, we aggressively pursue every avenue of defense available to you, so you have the best chance of winning your case. In some instances, the best defense is trying to knock evidence out of court because the police violated your rights. Sometimes, the best defense might be showing the jury that the prosecution can’t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If those avenues of defense may not...

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First-Degree Misdemeanors Ohio

The United States government is set up to allow each state to create its own criminal law. In most states, including Ohio, most crimes fall into two categories or “grades”—felonies and misdemeanors. While misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, a misdemeanor conviction can still have a significant impact on your life. For example, depending on the offense, a first-time misdemeanor offense can carry the possibility of fines, probation, and even jail time. The Degrees of Ohio Misdemeanors In Ohio, there are five types of misdemeanors. Minor misdemeanors, Fourth-degree misdemeanors, Third-degree misdemeanors, Second-degree misdemeanors, and First-degree misdemeanors. Minor misdemeanors are the least serious, and first-degree misdemeanors are the most serious. Many crimes can be graded in different ways, depending on the facts alleged by the prosecution. For example, domestic violence (Ohio Revised Code section 2919.25), can be a fourth-degree misdemeanor, third-degree misdemeanor, second-degree misdemeanor, or a first-degree misdemeanor.  In the case of domestic violence, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor if someone knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a family or household member. Domestic violence is also a first-degree misdemeanor if you recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member. Other examples of first-degree misdemeanors include: Driving under the influence of drugs; Petty theft of items valued at $1,000 or less; Driving on a suspended license; and Assault. —As stated, first-degree misdemeanors are the highest grade of this crime classification and generally carry the stiffest penalties. Punishments for First-Degree Misdemeanors In most cases, if you are convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, the judge has discretion in how to sentence you. This means the judge will hear arguments from your attorney as well as the prosecution and then determine what the appropriate sentence will be. In some cases, the judge may also allow the victim to present a “victim impact statement.” However, generally, a first-degree misdemeanor conviction carries the following penalties: Up to six months in jail; and Up to a $1,000 fine. Depending on the nature of the offense, a judge may also impose other punishments, including mandatory house arrest, community service, probation, drug testing, or counseling. Typically, these punishments are alternatives to incarceration. For instance, if the judge sentences you to probation with community service and drug testing but you fail to complete the requirements as ordered—the court will likely sentence you to jail time instead. When determining what the appropriate sentence is, a judge will consider several factors: The prosecutor’s recommendation; The impact the crime had on the victim’s life; The level of remorse expressed by the defendant; The defendant’s prior record; and The impact incarceration would have on the defendant’s life. Generally, a first-time misdemeanor charge will not result in a jail sentence. However, in the case of more serious misdemeanors, jail time may be on the table. Additionally, some first-degree misdemeanors carry mandatory minimum sentences. Why Having an Attorney Is Crucial for Those Facing First-Degree Misdemeanor Charges It is important for anyone facing first-degree misdemeanor charges to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Not only will an attorney help you determine the best way to defend against the allegations, but they can also advocate on your behalf during plea negotiations and at a sentencing hearing.  For sentencing hearings, attorneys know the types of things judges want to hear and the most effective way to convey this information. For example, many people convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor believe that they should hide their substance abuse issues from the judge because it may involve admitting to past criminal activity. However, often a judge who learns of a defendant’s mental health issues (including substance abuse) may be more inclined to fashion a rehabilitative sentence instead of one that includes jail time. It isn’t that drug use is an “excuse” for a person to commit a crime, but it certainly plays into the overall circumstances that a judge may consider when coming up with a sentence.  That said, it is also essential to present this information in an effective manner that may compel the judge to be lenient. Experienced attorneys know how to do this, and they often even know the judge. Knowing the predisposition of the judge can be quite valuable, and help your attorney fashion an argument that is most likely to get you a positive result. Attorneys may also be able to negotiate an agreement between you and the prosecution for a sentence that you can live with. This avoids the uncertainty of trial and can spare you the stress of not knowing what your future holds. Contact an Experienced Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer Today If you were recently arrested for a first-degree misdemeanor, reach out to the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA. At Gounaris Abboud, our Ohio criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience representing clients facing all types of crimes, ranging from a first-time misdemeanor offense to serious felony charges. We understand that facing criminal charges is a stressful experience, and we do everything we can to put your mind at ease throughout the process. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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False Sexual Allegations

Sex offense crimes are unique among criminal cases in that they often proceed on very little physical evidence. Instead, many of these cases rely on mere allegations of illegal conduct. While the burden of proof always rests with the prosecution, proving that sexual allegations are false can be a challenge. However, there are certain strategies that can be used to expose false sexual assault allegations. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, approximately 8% of all claims of rape are unfounded, meaning they were completely made up. On average, the rate of unfounded claims across all types of crime is 2%. Thus, rape allegations are about four times as likely to be false when compared to other types of crime. While the FBI only considered forcible rape in its analysis, it stands to reason that other sexual allegations suffer a similarly high rate of fabrication. Other types of sex offenses include: Sexual battery; Unlawful sexual contact with a minor; Sexual imposition (non-consensual sexual contact); Gross sexual imposition; and Importuning (solicitation and prostitution). However, the prosecution does not need to have physical evidence to prove someone guilty of a sex offense. State and federal rules of evidence consider a witnesses’ testimony equivalent to physical evidence. Thus, at least in theory, a conviction for a sex offense can stand on one person’s testimony. Thus, anyone facing an Ohio sex crime should immediately discuss their case with an experienced criminal defense attorney to develop an effective defense, regardless of whether the allegations are false. Defending Against False Sexual Assault Allegations Sexual assault allegations are not unlike other crimes in that there are several defenses that can defeat a prosecution’s case. However, selecting the best defense requires a thorough review of the prosecution’s evidence. Below are some of the more common defenses to Ohio sex crimes. Consent Many sex crimes require the prosecution to prove that the defendant committed the sexual act, forming the basis of the offense without the alleged victim’s consent. Thus, presenting evidence that the encounter was consensual will often defeat the prosecution’s case. However, consent is not a valid defense in every sex assault case. Specifically, if the alleged victim was a minor, incapacitated, or suffered from a mental illness, proving consent will not help you avoid a guilty verdict. Similarly, consent is invalid if it was obtained through force or coercion, including through the use of drugs or alcohol.  Fabrication Given that 8% of reported rapes are unfounded, one of the most common defenses to sexual assault charges involves challenging the alleged victim’s credibility. This can be done either by claiming the alleged victim’s testimony was intentionally false or was the result of a mistake. For example, the following can help prove an accuser’s story isn’t true. Alibi An alibi is a complete defense to a criminal charge. When you run an alibi defense, you claim that you were somewhere else when the alleged crime occurred. In some cases, this requires you to testify to your whereabouts. However, you can also have the person you were with testify on your behalf. Alternatively, cell phone records or work records may be used to prove you were not at the scene of the alleged crime. Animus Most false claims of sexual assault involve a personal issue between the alleged victim and the defendant. For example, if your partner finds out you had an affair, they may file false accusations of sexual assault to get back at you. While often an effective strategy, this approach requires special care so as not to appear callous in front of the jury. Impossibility If you were physically incapable of committing the alleged offense, you can present medical records in your defense. For example, if you are unable to have sex due to a medical condition, it will cast doubt on the alleged victim’s claim that they were raped. While this is not the most common defense, it does come up on occasion—and when it does, it is often very effective. Illegally Obtained Statements In some sex assault cases, the prosecution relies on statements the defendant made to detectives. However, detectives must satisfy certain constitutional requirements before taking a defendant’s statement. For example, if a detective takes an official statement from you without reading your Miranda rights to you, the statement may not be admissible at trial. These are just a few of the various ways to expose false sexual assault claims. To learn more about other possible defenses and what may work best in your case, contact an experienced Ohio sex assault defense lawyer. Are You Facing Sex Assault Allegations? If you are accused of sexual assault, showing that the accusations are false can be challenging. However, it is possible with the assistance of an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney. At Gounaris Abboud, LPA., we have more than 50 years of combined experience standing up for our clients’ rights. We have successfully resolved countless cases on behalf of clients across Ohio, and look forward to speaking with you to see how we can help. To learn more, and to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, give us a call or connect with us through our online contact form today. 

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possession of criminal tools

Have you been arrested for “possession of criminal tools”? If so, you might be confused. You are even more likely to be confused if you were arrested for possessing tools such as a hammer, that are legal to possess when not classified as “criminal tools.”  Unfortunately, possessing criminal tools is one of those vaguely-worded offenses like “Loitering” and “No Visible Means of Support,” that are highly subject to police and prosecutor abuse. The term “criminal tools” is so vague that it can refer to anything from a machine gun to a stick of chewing gum blocking a keyhole opening. So how do you know if your charges are legitimate? The best way to know is to consult experienced defense attorneys like those at Gounaris Abboud, LPA.   We can assess the facts of your case and protect your rights every step of the way. The Three Legal Elements of the Crime of Possession of Criminal Tools Every crime consists of one or more elements that the prosecutor must prove to win a conviction. In the case of possession of criminal tools, three legal elements exist:   The “criminal tool” was a “substance, device, instrument, or article;”  That was in your possession or control; and During the time you possessed the “criminal tool” you intended to use it for criminal purposes. Element #1: A Substance, Device, Instrument, or Article Although the definition of this element is quite broad, it would arguably exclude abstract items such as computer malware. The tool must be a tangible object that you can hold in your hand. Element #2: Your Possession or Control “Possession or control” generally means that the item was on your person or property, that you knew it was there, and that you knew what it was. You don’t have to know that it is illegal to possess it. However, circumstances can exist that can make proving control over the tool tricky for prosecutors. For instance, suppose Joe, Jack, and Jeff all share a house together. Now suppose that someone uses a crowbar to break into a neighbor’s house one night. After doing so, the burglar puts the crowbar into the garage that all three housemates share. This can make it tough for the prosecution to prove who had possession, control, or even knowledge of the crowbar. In fact, a fourth party, that doesn’t even live in the house, may have placed it there.  Criminal Intent A prosecutor cannot win a conviction for possessing instruments of crime without establishing criminal intent. You must have specific criminal intent before items in your possession are classified as criminal tools. The prosecution, however, may infer intent from your mere possession of certain items. The prosecutor can shift the burden of proof onto you if you possessed or controlled certain types of items. Possession or control of a “dangerous ordnance” This is possession of something that most people wouldn’t have unless they intended to use it to commit a crime. California maintains a list of dangerous ordnances that includes items such as dynamite, explosive-grade nitroglycerine, and military-issue firearms. Adaptations If you possess items that you specifically adapted for criminal use, this type of item carries a rebuttable presumption of criminal intent. An example would be a taped-up flashlight. Items commonly used in crimes If you possess or control an item commonly used to commit crimes, under certain circumstances, that could indicate criminal intent. For example, if the police find a screwdriver hanging from your belt at night, while you are wearing a facemask and black clothing, they might be able to infer criminal intent. Defenses Several potential defenses are available against a charge of possession of criminal tools:  Merger: The prosecution has already charged you with the underlying offense; Reasonable doubt as to your criminal intent; or The item was never in your possession or control. Numerous other potential defenses are available, depending on the specific facts of your case. Penalties The prosecutor can charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony version of possession of criminal tools. It all depends on your intent—did you intend to commit a felony or a non-felony? This crime is a fifth-degree felony if you intended to commit a felony, and it is a first-degree misdemeanor if you intended to commit a non-felony.  For a felony, you could face up to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. For a misdemeanor, you could face up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.  Remember that the foregoing punishments are maximums, not minimums. It’s Time to Start Fighting Back Contact the award-winning criminal defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA  by calling (937) 222-1515 or by contacting us online, so that we can give you a free case analysis. Our offices are located in Dayton and Springboro, Ohio, and we serve clients throughout the state.

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weapons under disability

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution gives citizens the right to own and carry a firearm, subject to certain limitations. Nevertheless, certain qualifications and limitations prevent millions of Americans from owning a gun. In Ohio, these are referred to as disabling conditions.  Ohio law restricts the possession of a gun when a disabling condition, or disability, exists on the part of the possessor. So what does having weapons while under disability mean? It means the defendant possessed a weapon, despite being prohibited from doing so.  If you received a charge for having weapons while under disability, Gounaris Abboud, LPA, is here to help. Contact our office today for a free consultation.  Ohio Law: Having Weapons Under Disability Ohio law criminalizes having a firearm for individuals who: Are fugitives from justice; Were charged or convicted of a violent felony offense; Were charged or convicted of a felony drug offense that involved illegal drug possession, sale, distribution, or trafficking; Are dependent on drugs or in danger of being dependent on drugs; Are chronic alcoholics; Are mentally incompetent, mentally defective, or mentally ill, as determined by the court; or Were ordered to live at a mental institution by the court. The offense of having a weapon under disability is commonly referred to as “WUD.” Firearm refers to any gun, whether loaded, unloaded, or temporarily inoperable.  Punishment for Weapons Under Disability Charge in Ohio After determining the meaning of WUD, you could be wondering how much jail time you’re facing for a weapons under disability charge in Ohio.  Ohio considers a WUD charge a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony carries potential penalties including: Up to five years in prison; and Up to a $10,000 fine. In addition to criminal penalties, individuals convicted of WUD can face difficulty finding employment and housing due to the felony conviction.  Defenses to Having a Weapon Under Disability Certain legal defenses absolve defendants charged with WUD of liability, resulting in the dismissal of charges or a not guilty verdict. Common defenses to WUD include: The defendant was unaware that the gun was in his or her possession; The defendant was en route to a police station to turn the firearm in; The firearm was used in self-defense; and The firearm was located during an illegal search and seizure.  The existence of any of these legal defenses presents an opportunity for a criminal defense lawyer to argue that you should not face charges.  Contact an Experienced Ohio Criminal Defense Today Weapons charges result in stiff fines and jail time in most circumstances. A weapons charge attorney with Gounaris Abboud, LPA, will review the facts of your case to evaluate the full picture of the charges against you. With more than 50 years of collective experience, our team is more than qualified to defend you against a weapons under disability charge. We know that no two cases are the same, so we take the time to sit down one-on-one with our clients, listen to their situation and desired outcome, and tailor a plan to address those concerns. If you want to discuss your case with one of our criminal defense attorneys, call our office at 937-222-1515.

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ohio knife laws

Individuals seek ways to protect themselves. This can include carrying things such as pepper spray, personal alarms, and even knives. Others use knives as a collectible item or handy tool. However, given the impact a knife injury can have, Ohio knife laws impose restrictions on how they are possessed and used. These laws seek to balance the freedom to possess and carry various types of knives with the justice system’s duty to protect others from the dangers knives can present.  Ohio Revised Code Knife Laws First things first: The revised Ohio knife law effective April of 2021 provides a significant adjustment to knife laws in Ohio. The law now states that the prohibition against carrying concealed weapons does not include knives that are not used as a weapon. “Knives” include: Razors; Automatically opening pocket knives; Folding knives; and  Any knife-type cutting instrument. Senate Bill 140 also repealed a statewide ban on the manufacture and sale of automatically opening pocket or folding knives. Knife as a Weapon Designation In general, when the law addresses an offense involving a “deadly weapon” or “weapon” it does not include any knife in that category. However, here is the exception, and it is a crucial one to know: If an offender uses any knife or cutting instrument as a weapon, law enforcement can then categorize the item as a deadly or concealed weapon. Here is an example. A person is smoking marijuana in a public park, in violation of the law. The police stop the person because of the smoking and pat them down without any struggle. They find a switchblade in their pocket. The switchblade possession will not lead to a charge of possession of a concealed or deadly weapon. On the other hand, if law enforcement apprehended the same individual after they attempted to rob a person and used the knife to threaten the victim, things would change. At that point, as the offender used the knife as a weapon in the robbery, they can be charged with carrying a concealed weapon. So, Ohio knife carry laws provide citizens with the freedom to carry a knife. However, if a citizen uses that item as a weapon, its possession and use can become illegal. There remain, of course, various prohibitions regarding having knives on school grounds and other locations. Attorneys Who Know Ohio Knife Laws If a person is facing Ohio knife carry law violations or other knife-related offenses, they should look for a criminal defense attorney. Knife law violations are criminal offenses, and penalties could include incarceration and fines and lead to the loss of employment. An established law firm with a history of clients who recommend it can put an offender in the best position to fight charges.  The time to seek legal advice is when one fears they may be facing charges or as soon as possible after law enforcement charges them. However, even if a court date is around the corner, experienced attorneys can step in and take over. Gounaris Abboud, LPA Gounaris Abboud, LPA has more than 50 years of collective experience in criminal defense and other areas of law. We handle every level of the case, from the most challenging legal cases in Ohio to everyday smaller matters. To our attorneys, every case is important. Please call us at 937-222-1515 or reach us online to schedule your free consultation today.

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Importuning Charge Ohio

The charge of importuning often confuses the accused, as it is a term that is not part of everyday language. The first question many ask in these cases is, What is importuning? If you are facing this charge, you need to know the importuning definition in the Ohio revised code, importuning charge implications, and what you should do if you face an importuning charge. What Does Importuning Mean in Ohio? Understanding the Charge Importuning is a criminal sex offense involving the act of soliciting a minor to engage in sexual activity. The Ohio revised code Title 29 Crimes-Procedure/Chapter 2907 addresses importuning.  An Importuning Charge The law states, in part, that a court can find you guilty of importuning if you: Solicit a person who is less than thirteen years of age to engage in sexual activity; or Solicit another, not the spouse of the offender, to engage in sexual conduct with the offender, when the offender is eighteen years of age or older and four or more years older than the other person. It does not matter whether you knew or had a reckless disregard of the age of the minor (i.e., it is no defense to say that you did not know the age of any of the parties involved). Additional Aspects of the Law There are numerous caveats and additional age restrictions within the law. In addition, the solicitation can be in person or via a telecommunications device, including communication via: Cell phone,  Computer,  Social media, Email, or  Any other communication method. This law intends to protect children from any type of sexual advances by an adult.  The Consequences and Penalties of an Importuning Conviction The importuning definition in our State lists this crime as a felony, a very serious charge. Penalties may include: Permanent sex offender registration, Years in prison, and Thousands of dollars in fines. If the court finds you guilty of violating the Ohio revised code importuning law, you will then have a criminal record. What Should You Do If You Are Facing an Importuning Charge? An importuning conviction can have far-reaching consequences. Therefore, you should immediately seek legal counsel if law enforcement charges you with importuning. Do not discuss the case with anyone, admit guilt, or attempt to make a deal with the police or prosecution without the advice and presence of a lawyer.  As the importuning definition categorizes it as a sex crime, those charged with the crime are often afraid, embarrassed, and fearful of others finding out about the charge. If you are in this category, please be aware that our lawyers provide discreet, nonjudgmental, compassionate interaction with clients. We are legal advocates who focus on defending and protecting the rights of our clients, not condemning them.  Gounaris Abboud, LPA: A Legal Professional Association With over 5 decades of collective experience, Gounaris Abboud, LPA, provides dedicated legal counsel to every client. We are qualified to tackle all criminal matters. Our firm provides personal, trusting attorney-client representation. Please contact our office for a free consultation. Speak to an attorney now by calling 937-222-1515 or using our online texting application or contact form.

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