murder statute of limitations in Ohio

You might have seen recent news stories explaining how police have solved murders that are decades old. Ohio police even cracked a cold case murder that happened in 1974! After 45-plus years, you might think someone committed the perfect crime. However, thanks to persistent investigative work and the development of improved forensic testing, law enforcement officers can provide closure to the victim’s family and charge the alleged killer. With so much time passed, you might wonder is there a statute of limitations for murder? The answer may surprise you. The state of Ohio, along with every other state and U.S. territory, has no statute of limitations on murder. That means anyone can face murder charges at any time during their lives, no matter how much time has passed. The same is not true for other criminal charges, however.  If something bad happened in your past, you might not need to know what is the statute of limitations on murder, but you might want to know if Ohio law bars prosecution for other acts due to the passage of time. An experienced and knowledgeable Ohio criminal defense lawyer from Gounaris Abboud, LPA, can explain how Ohio’s statutes of limitations can save you from a wrongful conviction. Contact us right away if you were arrested for a crime or police suspect you committed a crime. We will fight relentlessly to protect your rights and safeguard your freedom. Statute of Limitations for Crimes in Ohio Even though there is no statute of limitations for murder, all other crimes in Ohio must be charged within a specific timeframe. The severity of the crime dictates how long the prosecution has to charge you. If prosecutors miss the deadline to charge you with a crime, then Ohio law bars the case from going forward. Here are the statutes of limitations for crimes in Ohio: Minor misdemeanors: six months. Misdemeanors: two years. Felonies: six years. Major felonies such as manslaughter, kidnapping, money laundering: 20 years. Sexual battery and rape: 25 years. These time limitations also apply to conspiracy, attempts to commit, or complicity in committing a felony, including rape and sexual battery. Exceptions to the Statutes of Limitations You should understand that statutes of limitations are not hard-and-fast rules. The prosecuting attorney may argue that certain periods of time do not count toward the statute of limitations. In Ohio criminal practice, that’s known as “tolling the statute.”  Statutes of limitations toll upon the occurrence of certain events. For example, if a college student gets into a bar fight and commits assault before graduation and then leaves the state after graduation, the time the person is out of state tolls the statute of limitations. However, the clock begins to run again if that person returns to Ohio. In other circumstances, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until someone discovers the crime. One example is identity fraud. Under Ohio law, a person can face charges for up to five years after the victim discovers the crime if the initial statute of limitations expired. Similarly, an offense involving misconduct by a public servant can proceed for the entire time the person is a public servant and up to two years afterward. Why Is There No Murder Statute of Limitations? Murder is the most serious crime a person can commit. The value we place on human life as society demands that we allow investigators to keep searching for clues to solve a murder and bring the accused to trial. Consequently, law enforcement officers and prosecutors devote enormous resources to solving murder cases.  Sometimes the trail goes cold despite investigators’ best efforts. However, investigators will not simply surrender because they couldn’t solve the case quickly. As a general rule, we cannot allow people to get away with murder. That’s why there is no murder statute of limitations. If police can develop enough evidence to charge a person for murder, then that person should face trial for the crime, no matter how much time has passed. Our society will degrade rapidly if we decide that there should be a murder statute of limitations in Ohio, or anywhere else.  Deterrence is another reason why we should not enact a murder statute of limitations. People might be more inclined to plan and commit murder if they knew they would never face charges. Life in prison without parole or the death penalty for murder conviction deters some people from committing murder. Finally, the ends of justice require that the door must always remain open to investigating and charging murder cases. Wrongfully convicting someone of the crime does not suffice. We must ensure that the right person was convicted. Therefore, the passage of time should not protect the guilty or prohibit the innocent from fighting for freedom.  Award-Winning Ohio Criminal Defense Attorneys  At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, we stake our reputation on every case we take. Once again, in 2021, we have landed in the Top 100 Ohio Super Lawyers and the Top 50 in the Cincinnati Super Lawyers list. While accolades from our peers are nice, we thrive on achieving the best results possible for our clients. Whether your charge is a run-of-the-mill DUI or a complicated murder, we have the experience and skill to help you get the best result possible. We use all our resources to defend your case. Whether it is fighting the case at trial or negotiating a favorable plea, the criminal defense lawyers from Gounaris Abboud, LPA will work with you to get the best result possible. Contact us today online or by calling 937-222-1515 to learn more about our services and commitment to excellence.

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possession of child pornography

Child pornography laws at the state and federal levels are strict. A conviction in an Ohio state court or federal court for possession of child porn could land you in prison for a long time. You may even have to register as a sex offender.  Remember that a charge does not automatically mean that you are guilty. Having a bold and courageous criminal defense attorney from Gounaris Abboud, LPA can give you the edge you need to avoid a conviction and keep you out of jail.  Gounaris Abboud, LPA’s Ohio defense lawyers have over 50 years of combined legal experience fighting for the rights of their clients and delivering unmatched results.  What Are the Ohio Revised Code’s Child Pornography Laws? Chapter 2907 of the Ohio Revised Code contains the state’s child porn laws. Under chapter 2907, it is a crime to create, reproduce, sell, deliver, exhibit, possess, buy, control, or publish obscene matter depicting a child, a child engaged in sexual activity, or displaying a minor in the nude. The severity of possession of child pornography charges ranges from a fifth-degree felony to a second-degree felony.  The particular facts of your case will determine the possible range of incarceration and other penalties you face. The possible period of incarceration you face for a conviction of possessing child porn ranges from one year to as many as eight. However, the prosecution could look to extend your time in prison if you have prior convictions for possession of child porn. Additionally, you could face charges like human trafficking or child endangerment.   What Are the Federal Child Pornography Laws? Although the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects free speech, it does not protect the possession, distribution, or creation of child pornography. Therefore, you could face a federal crime if you possess child pornography. However, the federal authorities cannot prosecute you unless they have evidence to believe the child porn entered the stream of commerce or somehow crossed state lines. It’s not too hard for them to prove that an image moved through interstate commerce. Usually, they have evidence that the accused used the internet to transfer or create an image.  The federal laws which prohibit child pornography and the exploitation of children carry severe penalties. The minimum sentence you could serve out of federal court is five years, and the maximum is 20 years. However, aggravating circumstances can increase the time you serve. For example, you could have a sentence for each image in your possession and the judge could add the sentences together.  Is Sexting Considered Child Porn? Neither Ohio law nor federal law distinguishes sexting from other child pornography crimes. Therefore, minors sending text messages containing nude images to each other may be a crime even if the minors “consented.” Similarly, adults and minors who share explicit images can face child porn charges.  Registration as a Sex Offender for Possession of Child Pornography Ohio requires every person convicted of a sex offense to register as a sex offender. The state classifies each offender as either a Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III sex offender. In Ohio, the possession of child porn tier level is based on the conduct leading to a person’s conviction, their prior criminal record, and other information. A person who disputes their classification can appeal the decision. Winning the appeal may help you maintain some privacy instead of having your picture posted on a sheriff’s website. Notwithstanding, winning your appeal does not alleviate your legal obligation to register and report as required.  You may face other collateral consequences as a result of your conviction. You could lose your employment, your right to vote, your right to possess a firearm, and many other rights. Why Is Gounaris Abboud, LPA the Right Law Firm for You? With over 50 years of combined legal experience, the criminal defense attorneys from Gounaris Abboud, LPA can provide the help you need when your life hangs in the balance. We exhaust all efforts to ensure our clients get the best defense available to them. We earn our clients’ trust through our dedication to providing high-quality legal services. The results speak for themselves. Our peers have also recognized our firm for our dedication to our clients and excellence in the Ohio legal profession. Some of our accolades include recognition as Ohio Super Lawyers. We are members of the Top 100 trial lawyers in the country. We also have a coveted—but rare—10/10 AVVO rating.  Talk to an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer from Gounaris Abboud, LPA Today Contact Gounaris Abboud, LPA today at 937-222-1515 or submit our free case consultation form to learn more about how we can help you. We will work with you one-on-one to ensure we meet all your needs. With Gounaris Abboud, LPA by your side, you can be confident you’re getting the best defense possible.

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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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failure to appear in court

Make Sure You Appear in Court If You Want to Avoid Additional Consequences Woody Allen allegedly said that 90% of life is just showing up. Judges in Ohio traffic courts require 100% attendance—showing up 9 out 10 times won’t cut it. You could be in a lot of trouble if you miss your speeding ticket court appearance. Missing your court date is never a good thing. Even in times of a global pandemic, you need to appear in court. Not only will you lose your ticket appeal, but the judge might also issue a warrant for your arrest, assess costs against you, and even suspend your license.  What should you do if you can’t make your court appearance for a speeding ticket or another moving infraction? The traffic defense lawyers with Gounaris Abboud can help you with your traffic ticket defense. They can go to traffic court with you—or for you—and protect your rights. Why It’s Imperative That You Go to Court You have the right to fight your speeding ticket or other traffic offense in court. These crimes are referred to as minor misdemeanors. You can pay the ticket—thereby admitting guilt—and avoid going to court.  However, there are consequences that stem from accumulating too many traffic tickets. For example, the state could suspend your driver’s license. Additionally, your insurance company could increase your coverage rates or drop you altogether. Moreover, if you have a commercial driver’s license, the state could revoke your ability to make a living by driving. Therefore, it makes sense to fight a traffic offense to protect your driving record as well as your way of life. You can go to court to contest the traffic violation allegations if you want. You must appear in court at the date and time the court assigns to you. You have the chance to plead not guilty and have a trial.  Keep in mind, that you have a legal obligation to appear in court if the police charge you with a felony or misdemeanor traffic crime. Traffic crimes carry the possibility of going to jail. You must appear at your arraignment date and trial date; otherwise, the court can take matters into its own hands. Consequences for Missing Court When Your Speeding Ticket Court Appearance Is Required Traffic courts are busy. They don’t have the luxury of wasting time processing your case and then putting the resources into it if you don’t show up. The time courts spend on your case is time spent away from someone else’s. Additionally, the prosecution has to call witnesses to come to court for your trial. This costs the state money. Consequently, magistrates and judges can punish you for not appearing. The court can enter a default finding on your docket if you don’t come to court. If you have minor misdemeanor traffic charges, then the judge will find you guilty and order you to pay the fine and associated fees. However, the court will issue a bench warrant for you if you have criminal offenses on your ticket. Having a bench warrant lodged against you means that you are subject to arrest when you’re in public. What are the implications of having a bench warrant out against you? Having a warrant is no way to live. The police can arrest you any time they encounter you. You might think you can avoid the police, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. If you are involved in a fender-bender, get stopped for a traffic offense, or have to call the police if you witness a crime, then you will be arrested. Police often “run” your information when they learn your name. They have to arrest you if the court issued a warrant for your apprehension. You will be brought to court after your arrest if the court is open at that time. If not, you might have to post bond if you are eligible. If you can’t post bond, then you could end up staying in jail until the next time court opens. Therefore, you could spend an entire weekend in jail awaiting your court appearance all because you didn’t go to court when you should have. Additional Consequences for Missing a Court Appearance for a Speeding Ticket Can you imagine your life if a police officer threw the cuffs on you and took you to jail because you missed a court appearance? How would you explain your arrest to your family? What would you say to your boss? You might be embarrassed, especially if you’ve never been in trouble before. Don’t let this happen to you.  How Can Gounaris Abboud Help? Gounaris Abboud’s defense attorneys can help you in a variety of ways. First, you can lean on our tremendous experience to help you out of a jam. As we’ve discussed, there are many reasons why you might want to fight a speeding ticket. Gounaris Abboud’s defense lawyers appear in traffic courts in Ohio regularly. We can appear on your behalf and may be able to get your ticket cleared up. If the court insists that you personally appear for your hearing, then Gounaris Abboud’s ticket defense lawyers can ask for another date if you can’t come to court for a valid reason. We can argue your case for you and give you the best possible chance to win your ticket appeal.  Contact Gounaris Abboud Today for Further Information About What Happens If You Fail to Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket Call Gounaris Abboud today at 937-222-1515 to learn more about how we can protect your rights. Our award-winning traffic ticket defense lawyers have the experience and knowledge you need to win your traffic ticket 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

Arrested for a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio? Call 973-222-1515 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. If you’re ready to start your defense, contact the experienced Ohio criminal defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA today. 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 a Criminal Defense 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 a criminal law 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, LPA, 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 at 937-222-1515 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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