failure to report a crime

Witnessing a crime can have significant consequences for the witness. If you witnessed a crime or know about a crime and don’t report it, you may be concerned about legal consequences, your safety, or your moral responsibility. Is It Illegal to Not Report a Crime? Generally, the law does not require a person to report crimes they witness. This is true even with advanced warning of the crime. However, there are instances in which witnessing a crime carries legal obligations and potential penalties.  Aiding a Crime While failing to report a crime is not, in itself, a crime, aiding or concealing the commission of a crime is illegal. Aiding a crime is criminal even if you weren’t present during its commission, if you helped to conceal the crime or helped the perpetrators avoid arrest. Ohio state law prohibits aiding a crime under the complicity statute. Potential penalties for a complicity conviction mirror those of the principal offense. For example, a person who aids in the commission of a burglary can face the same penalties as if they committed burglary.  Mandatory Reporting  Ohio, like other states, requires certain professionals to report abuse they witness or even hear about. Examples of professionals covered by mandatory reporting laws include attorneys, day care personnel, nurses, and social workers. A mandatory reporter has the option to report alleged abuse anonymously. Not reporting a crime under this rule can result in misdemeanor criminal charges and may impact the professional’s license.  Failure to Report a Crime Under Federal Law  Failing to report a crime is punishable under federal law in some instances. Failure to report a felony can result in federal charges if you know about the commission of a felony, the felony occurred, and the felony is a federal offense. This is known as misprision of a felony. The potential penalties for failing to report a federal felony offense include a fine of up to $150,000 and/or up to three years in federal prison. Misprision of a felony is difficult to prove, mostly because of the right to avoid self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. Possible Defenses In Ohio, you can be charged with complicity even if the principal offender isn’t charged. Possible defenses against complicity include: Innocence, Lack of intent, Duress, and Abandonment. Abandonment requires you to establish that you withdrew and terminated your complicity before the crime was committed or attempted. Establishing this defense requires proving that the termination was a complete and voluntary withdrawal.  How We Can Help  Gounaris Abboud, LPA, is an Ohio-based law firm with decades of experience. We represent clients in criminal defense, family law, and personal injury cases. We pride ourselves as being bold and courageous advocates who will do the utmost to assist our clients. Contact us online today or call 937-22-1515 for a free case analysis. We will talk through your case with you and determine whether we are the best attorneys for your case. We will walk you through your options, step by step, and fight for your best outcome.

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mail theft punishment

Each year, the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivers over 100 billion pieces of mail to over 100 million addresses. With shopping done increasingly online, there has been a steady increase of mail theft across the country. In Ohio alone, there were over 2,000 reported mail theft losses in 2017. Mail theft penalties vary according to the severity of the crime.  Overview Because the USPS is a federal agency, stealing mail is a federal crime. Many states have also enacted laws that specifically prohibit mail theft. Even in those states that do not have specific mail theft laws in place, mail theft can be prosecuted under state theft and identity theft laws. Charges  Federal law prohibits taking any piece of mail that does not belong to you for any reason. The term “mail” includes letters, postal cards, packages, bags, and other such articles sent via USPS. This law applies to mail at the post office, in or outside of mailboxes, and to mail left unattended in other locations. Federal mail theft is a felony offense.  A federal mail theft conviction can also have consequences under Ohio state laws. The charges associated with stealing mail depend on what was stolen. If the stolen mail included personal identifying information, mail theft may be charged as felony identity theft. Examples of personal identifying information are:  Names, Social security numbers,  Dates of birth, Bank account information, Credit card information, Addresses,  Telephone numbers. Tax identification numbers, Driver license numbers, Passport information,  School or employee identification numbers, and Birth or death certificate information.  In addition to identity theft, Ohio state law prohibits mail theft under the general theft statutes. The type of theft again depends on what was stolen, particularly the value of what was stolen. If the stolen items are worth less than $1,000, the charge is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the value of stolen mail is $1,000 to $7,500 or the stolen property was a credit card, check, or other qualifying item, the theft is charged as a felony of the fifth degree.  Potential Penalties  Mail theft punishment A federal mail theft conviction is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000, in addition to potential restitution payments.  Mail theft penalties under Ohio state law depend on the specific crime charged. If mail theft is charged as identity theft under Ohio state law, the potential penalty is as many as 11 years in prison, depending on the class of persons whose identity was stolen. The potential penalty for a first degree misdemeanor theft is up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For a fifth degree theft felony, the potential penalty is prison time of six to twelve months and a fine of up to $2,500.  Possible Defenses  Federal mail theft is a serious crime. If you were charged with federal mail theft, you should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to determine whether you have any available defenses. Possible defenses to federal mail theft include: You didn’t steal the mail; You didn’t know that the mail in your possession was stolen; or The evidence against you was obtained illegally.  In addition to defenses specific to federal mail theft, you can defend against state law theft charges by proving that you lacked the intent to steal the items in question.  How We Can Help  The Gounaris family has been serving the legal needs of Dayton and Miami Valley communities for fifty years. The attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA, bring years of experience and significant expertise to each and every case. We ensure that our representation reflects the most recent innovations in the legal profession. Contact us online today  or call 937-222-1515 for a free case consultation. If we take your case, we will fight passionately for your best outcome.

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how to beat a solicitation charge

Solicitation is an Ohio criminal charge that is related to but separate from prostitution. If you have been accused of solicitation in Ohio, you are probably worried about jail time and potential harm to your reputation. Here, we will discuss Ohio solicitation laws and some important information about how to beat a solicitation charge.  What Is Solicitation? The Ohio State Code does not specifically define solicitation. Solicitation generally is the act of asking for or trying to obtain something from someone. The Ohio criminal code prohibits solicitation in a number of situations related to prostitution. Essentially, solicitation is asking another person to engage in sexual activity for hire. Ohio laws prohibit solicitation regardless of the age or mental capacity of the person being solicited. However, criminal penalties may be more severe for solicitation of a minor or any individual with a developmental disability. It is important to note that you can be charged with solicitation even if no sexual act took place. Ohio Solicitation Laws According to solicitation laws in Ohio, soliciting a person who is eighteen years of age or older is a third degree misdemeanor. Soliciting a person who is sixteen or seventeen is a fifth degree felony if you know the person’s age or are recklessly unaware of their age. Soliciting someone under sixteen is a third degree felony whether or not you know the person’s age, and soliciting a person with a developmental disability is also a third degree felony if you know or have reasonable cause to believe that the person has a disability. Ohio solicitation laws also specify more severe penalties for solicitation by a person who has received a positive HIV test. If you know that you have tested positive for HIV and you solicit sex from any person, you can be charged with a second or third degree felony, depending on when the alleged solicitation took place.  Penalties for Solicitation  A judge can sentence you to up to 60 days in jail for a third degree misdemeanor. They can also fine you up to $500.  Felony convictions for solicitation carry the possibility of more severe penalties. A fifth degree felony can result in six months to a year of jail time and a fine of up to $2,500. Sentencing guidelines allow between one and five years of jail time and/or a $10,000 fine for a third degree felony. The most severe penalty for solicitation after a positive HIV test can involve up to eight years in jail and a maximum fine of $15,000.  If you committed solicitation while in a motor vehicle, the court may suspend your license.  Possible Defenses There are a number of strategies that a skilled defense attorney may use to help you beat a solicitation charge. Burden of Proof For solicitation, as with other crimes, you are innocent until proven guilty. One defense strategy is to cast doubt on the prosecution’s allegations that you solicited sex for hire. If the prosecution cannot provide enough evidence of a clear agreement to exchange sex for payment, then you will not be found guilty. Misunderstanding It is possible that you were unaware that the person you were talking to was a sex worker. You may have thought they seemed interested in you and suggested that they come back to your room. You can defend against a solicitation charge by showing that there is no evidence that you discussed sex for hire. Entrapment You can argue entrapment if an undercover cop encouraged you to solicit sex acts from someone posing as a prostitute. Police sometimes run undercover operations in which one undercover officer pretends to be a sex worker while another attempts to persuade or encourage individuals to solicit the fake sex worker’s services.  A successful entrapment defense requires you to prove that you would not have engaged in solicitation without the undercover officer’s influence. This defense may depend on the words the officer used to convince you to attempt to pay for sex acts or on other circumstances. Entrapment is a complicated defense, and hiring a lawyer is important to successfully raise it. Will a Solicitation Charge Stay on My Record Forever? In Ohio, convictions for first, second, third, and fourth degree misdemeanors will become part of your permanent criminal record. Any felony conviction will also become part of your permanent record. Most Ohio employers can find public records of felony and first through fourth degree misdemeanor convictions. If you are convicted of solicitation, it can potentially impact your life long after the incident occurred. Eligible offenders in Ohio can have misdemeanor convictions as well as fourth and fifth degree felony convictions sealed or expunged from their permanent records. Expungement removes the record of the conviction, making it as if the conviction never happened, while sealing a record makes the record unavailable to the public. Both sealing and expungement prevent future employers from seeing convictions, giving offenders a fresh start.  Until recently, only first-time offenders were eligible for expungement. As of 2018, you may seek expungement if you have any number of misdemeanor convictions and five or fewer felony convictions. You must wait between one and five years before seeking expungement depending on the level of the offense you are trying to expunge.  Why It Is Important to Hire a Lawyer A solicitation conviction can stay on your permanent record and prevent you from getting hired, obtaining certain professional licenses, being approved for certain types of housing, and more. These collateral consequences can be more harmful than any jail time or fine. You should contact a criminal defense lawyer to talk about how to beat a solicitation charge and avoid these consequences. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with a violation of Ohio solicitation laws.  How We Can Help The attorneys at Gounaris Abboud are ready to help you beat your solicitation charge. Gounaris Abboud attorneys have decades of experience in criminal defense and have earned top ratings from respected legal publications. Call or text...

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what-is-lewd-and-lascivious-behavior

We understand that a charge of lewd and lascivious behavior is often confusing, frightening, and embarrassing. The process of addressing the situation can be overwhelming. Let’s look at some of the basic questions you might have regarding the legal implications of lewd and lascivious behavior and whether you may be at risk for breaking the law. What Is Lewd and Lascivious Behavior? Lewd and lascivious behavior is obscene acts done for sexual arousal or to shock and arouse another person without their consent. In Ohio, the criminal justice system also refers to these acts as indecent behavior.  What Are Examples of Lewd and Lascivious Behavior? You are at risk of being charged with a crime when you engage in lewd and lascivious behavior. These crimes cover a range of actions. Some examples include: Exposing your private parts in public; Engaging in sexual conduct or masturbation in public; Secretly looking into a private area to view another person; or Sending a nude picture of yourself to a minor. Ohio considers each of these against public decency and illegal. Indecent exposure, peeping, and lewd phone calls are some of the more common ways people break the law. Will I Be on The Sex Offender Registry If I Break the Law? Whether a conviction for a lewd and lascivious act results in a requirement to register as a sex offender depends upon the seriousness of offense, your prior record, and other considerations. In Ohio, a lewd and lascivious act may mean registration for life, 25 years, or 15 years. Registration is a significant punishment. All 50 states and Washington, D.C., maintain publicly accessible sex offender registration websites, which typically collect the offenders’ names, photos, fingerprints, addresses, and employment information.  What Are The Penalties For Lewd And Lascivious Behavior? Sex offender registration is only one of the many possible punishments for lewd and lascivious acts. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, additional penalties range from fines to years of imprisonment. If your act involves any of the following, the Ohio courts will probably punish you more harshly: A weapon, A repeat offense, A video recording, or A victim who is a minor. It would be best if you discussed all aspects of your case with an attorney. They will be able to apply the facts to the charges and explain your rights and possible consequences.  Are There Defenses in Lewd and Lascivious Behavior Cases? Though lewd and lascivious acts are considered against public decency, they are not acts for which there is no defense. Defense attorneys will consider all available avenues to assist you. They will investigate any illegal police conduct that could lead to dismissal of the charges, work to gather facts to prove you innocent if you are wrongfully accused, and try to have the charges reduced to lessen your sentence if a conviction is likely.  Lewd and lascivious behaviors can result in social stigma, job loss, and family discord. You want an experienced defense attorney specializing in lewd and lascivious behavior cases who will sympathize with how the charge impacts your life. A lawyer with experience in this field knows the gravity of the situation and can provide a strong legal defense. We Can Help Please call Gounaris Abboud, LPA, immediately at 937-222-1515 if you are facing charges related to lewd and lascivious behavior. Our experienced attorneys provide exceptionally high quality legal representation. We will listen to your side of the case, gather information to assist in your defense, and be your voice in dealing with the police and courts. At Gounaris Abboud, we understand how hard it is, emotionally and legally, to face these charges. We will talk to you without judgment. Contact us today for a free case analysis. 

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One of the most common sentences in criminal cases is probation. Probation is a method of keeping an offender in the community, rather than behind bars, while they serve their sentence. There are different kinds of probation and various rules for offenders who are on probation. In Ohio, one type of probation is unsupervised probation.  What Is Unsupervised Probation? Unsupervised probation is a sentence given by a judge to a person who has broken the law. Unlike traditional or supervised probation, there is no probation officer involved who will monitor the offender to determine whether they are staying out of trouble. In Ohio, offenders often hope to receive unsupervised probation as a sentence because it provides a great deal of freedom. How Does Someone Get Unsupervised Probation There are several things the judge will consider when deciding whether to order unsupervised probation as a sentence. These include: The severity of the crime; Whether the offender is a repeat offender; The stability of the offender’s living arrangements; Whether the offender has a job or is in school; What government officials (prosecutor and probation officers) recommend for the sentence; If given, the victim’s statement regarding the crime; and Arguments in favor of probation by the defense attorney. Ultimately, a judge must believe that the offender will stay out of trouble and be a productive member of society, without first being supervised by a probation officer or put in jail.  What Are the Rules in Ohio Regarding Unsupervised Probation? Unsupervised probation comes with a set of rules (called terms of probation) the offender must follow. Obeying all state and federal laws is a requirement included in every unsupervised probation sentence. Additional rules might include: Not owning a firearm; Seeking/maintaining employment;  Attending anger management classes; Completing a drug rehabilitation program; or Not consuming alcohol.  Any terms of probation, in addition to the requirement that the offender not break any laws, would be related to the offender’s specific crime and individual circumstances.  How Long Does Unsupervised Probation Last? In Ohio, unsupervised probation can last up to 5 years. A judge determines the length of the sentence for each case. The court notifies the offender of the date their unsupervised probation will end when it sentences them. The offender’s attorney can also provide clarification about when the unsupervised probation expires.  What Happens If You Violate Unsupervised Probation? Violation of unsupervised probation is a violation of a court order. Therefore, you will likely lose the ability to remain on unsupervised probation and receive a harsher sentence such as: Supervised probation, Fines, Jail time, House arrest, or An ankle monitor. While unsupervised probation provides offenders with significant freedom, it is still a serious sentence. We advise that offenders make every effort to follow the terms of their unsupervised probation and contact their attorney if they have violated their probation. What Should I Do If I Am Facing Criminal Charges? If you are facing criminal charges, we advise you to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. You have the right to have a lawyer defend you. If approached by law enforcement, do not talk without your attorney present. Share all information honestly and openly with only your lawyer, and they will help protect your rights.  Gounaris Abboud, LPA: Your Criminal Defense Attorneys Please call Gounaris Abboud, LPA, immediately at 937-222-1515 if you are facing criminal charges. Our experienced attorneys provide exceptionally high-quality legal representation. We will listen to your side of the case, gather information to assist in your defense, and be your voice in dealing with the police, courts, and probation system. Contact Gounaris Abboud, LPA, for a free case analysis. 

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child molestation charges ohio

Ohio prosecutors and judges take child molestation accusations very seriously. If someone has accused you of child molestation or unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you are convicted, you could face jail time for child molestation charges. Here, our sex crimes lawyers will discuss some of the potential consequences of a child molestation conviction in Ohio. Child Molestation Definition Ohio law defines a number of sex crimes, including rape and sexual battery, as child molestation or childhood sexual abuse when someone commits these crimes against a child who is under eighteen years old or against someone with a developmental disability or physical impairment who is under twenty-one years old. State statutes identify multiple acts committed against children as child molestation. A few of these specific acts include: Compelling another person to engage in sexual conduct by force or threat of force; Coercing another person to engage in sexual conduct by any means that would prevent resistance by a person of ordinary resolution; and Substantially impairing someone’s resistance by administering any intoxicant in order to engage in sexual conduct with that person. In addition, forced or offensive sexual conduct is child molestation when it takes place within the context of certain relationships in which one party is under eighteen or under twenty-one and has a disability. Such relationships include relationships in which the actor is: The parent or guardian of the victim; A teacher, administrator or coach at a school or higher education institution that the victim attends; A coach, instructor, or leader of a scouting troop of which the victim is a member; A mental health professional who has the victim as a client or patient; or A cleric serving a congregation of which the victim is a member. This is not a complete list of the types of relationships that can give rise to childhood sexual abuse charges.  Finally, the age of sexual consent in Ohio is sixteen. This means that a person who is under sixteen years old is not considered legally able to consent to sexual activity. It is considered statutory rape for an adult to engage in sexual activity with a person who is less than sixteen years of age. What Charges Can You Face for Child Molestation in Ohio? Jail time for child molestation charges in Ohio varies depending on the specific sex crime committed. For example, compelling sexual contact with or by a minor—known as gross sexual imposition—is a fourth degree felony. If the minor is less than thirteen years old or the actor impairs the minor’s judgment by using a controlled substance, gross sexual imposition is a third-degree felony. Jail time for fourth degree felonies ranges between six and 18 months. For a third degree felony, a judge may give a sentence of 1 to 5 years in jail. A rape charge is a first degree felony and carries more severe penalties. A first degree felony is punishable by up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000.  Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender If Convicted? Anyone who is convicted and sentenced to jail time or confinement for any of the sex crimes that constitute child molestation must register with the sheriff of the county in which they were convicted. Further registration requirements apply after a convicted offender has completed their prison sentence.  Offenders must register with the sheriff in any county where they work or attend school. Registration requirements are lifelong and do not expire with time. Ohio currently has an offense-based registration system. This type of system does not specify whether an offender poses a risk of repeat offenses. Possible Defenses There are some defenses that a knowledgeable lawyer may use to help you defend yourself against child molestation allegations. Romeo and Juliet Law Also known as a close-in-age exception, this law is designed to protect young couples who are close in age and are engaged in a consensual relationship that could technically classify as unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Consensual sex between two minors who are at least thirteen years old but younger than eighteen is not a sex crime in Ohio.  In addition, there are reduced penalties for consensual sex if the accused partner is eighteen or older and the minor partner is less than four years younger than the adult partner.  Burden of Proof The prosecution must sufficiently prove that the accused person committed the crime. If you can show that there is not enough proof to establish that you committed child molestation, then the court will find you not guilty. It is important to note that not knowing someone’s age or a mistake of age is NOT a defense to child molestation. When to Contact a Lawyer You should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you are alleged to have committed an offense or questioned about a child molestation offense.  Child molestation charges can carry serious jail time and require you to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. You should contact a lawyer before speaking to anyone else about your charges because of the seriousness of this offense.  How Long Does a Child Molestation Case Take? Each situation is different depending on the facts of the case and the specific allegations. It partially depends on the strength of the evidence the prosecution has collected. If there is very little evidence to support the charges, it is possible that the case will conclude within a shorter time. How We Can Help The attorneys at Gounaris Abboud have over fifty years of experience in criminal defense. They are knowledgeable about Ohio laws regarding sex crimes and child molestation and are ready to listen and fight for you. Contact us today by calling or texting 937-222-1515, and start discussing your defense with a skilled lawyer.

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ohio revenge porn

Laws prohibiting revenge porn are comparatively new additions to Ohio porn laws. If you have been accused of posting or distributing revenge porn, you are probably concerned about your reputation and the potential legal consequences. Knowing the law can be extremely helpful when facing these stressful allegations. Here, we will talk about everything you need to know about revenge porn in Ohio. What Is Revenge Porn? According to Ohio law, revenge porn is knowingly disseminating an image of a person with the intent to harm that person if said person: Is eighteen years of age or older; Does not consent to the dissemination of the image; Is in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual act; and Can be identified from the image or information attached to it.  Disseminating an image often involves posting it on the internet but also includes distributing the image in any way, such as among specific individuals. The formal charge for revenge porn is nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. Ohio Porn Laws Pornography depicting adults is legal in Ohio as in every other state. However, Ohio porn laws prohibit pornography where the individual shown in the pornographic images, video, or other media does not consent to the distribution of their image. Images that become revenge porn often begin as images shared between consenting adult partners. There is nothing illegal about one consenting adult sending a nude or pornographic image to another consenting adult. The legal implications change if the individual receiving the images later posts them on a website without first asking the person shown in the images. This could be considered revenge porn in Ohio. Charges for Porn Crimes A first conviction for nonconsensual dissemination is a third degree misdemeanor. Third degree misdemeanor convictions can result in a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. If it is your second conviction for distributing revenge porn, the charge becomes a second degree misdemeanor, which could mean up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750. If you have two or more previous convictions for revenge porn Ohio, you can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. A first degree misdemeanor conviction allows a judge to sentence you to up to 180 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.  If the person accused of distributing revenge porn is under eighteen years old, and the person in the illegal pornographic images is no more than 5 years older than the distributor, the distributor will face different charges. There is also a civil cause of action for revenge porn in Ohio. A person accusing you of sharing revenge porn can sue to recover punitive damages plus court costs and attorney fees. You can face personal liability and be required to pay much more than the maximum fines imposed in a criminal proceeding. In a civil suit, a court may also grant an injunction to prevent further distribution of the images in question. Possible Defenses   There are a number of defenses available to individuals and even certain websites accused of revenge porn in Ohio. Communications Decency Act for Websites  Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a federal law protecting websites from liability for certain third-party content. If the website where alleged revenge porn appears is a passive forum, the site may not be liable. If the website encourages third parties to post, however, or is otherwise active in editing the material it publishes, this protection may not apply. Ohio state law provides similar protections for entities like internet providers, providers of interactive computer services, telecommunications carriers, and more. Section 230 has faced recent criticism. An executive order proposing amendments to the law is currently the subject of a lawsuit. If you are the creator or manager of a website facing revenge porn charges, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer who is knowledgeable about the current status of Section 230. Burden of Proof In a criminal proceeding, the prosecution must present sufficient evidence to support a conviction for nonconsensual dissemination. A criminal defense attorney can weaken the prosecution’s case on a number of the necessary elements of revenge porn. For example, if there is not enough evidence to prove that the person in the pornographic images did not consent or that you posted an image with harmful intent, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Statutory Defenses Ohio porn laws do not prohibit the dissemination of otherwise pornographic images for certain purposes. If the image is part of a news report or is an artistic work, this could offer a defense. In addition, if the person shown in the image was willingly engaged in a sexual act in a place where they did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, the image may not be considered revenge porn. An experienced attorney will be familiar with the statutory exceptions to nonconsensual dissemination. Will This Stay on My Record Forever? In Ohio, first, second, third, and fourth degree misdemeanor convictions become part of your permanent criminal record. These convictions are available as public information to many Ohio employers. A revenge porn conviction can have a lasting impact on your life and career. Eligible offenders in Ohio can have misdemeanor convictions sealed or expunged from their permanent record. Both sealing and expungement prevent future employers from seeing convictions and can offer you a fresh start. As long as the pornographic images did not depict a minor, you may be able to get your conviction expunged. Why Should I Hire a Lawyer? Aside from jail time and fines, a revenge porn conviction can result in collateral consequences. These consequences can affect your future employment prospects and damage your reputation. Speaking with a criminal defense lawyer who understands revenge porn in Ohio may help you avoid these consequences. Many of the defenses to a revenge porn charge require detailed knowledge of Ohio porn laws or federal law. You should contact a lawyer as...

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domestic violence charges jail time

Domestic violence accusations can have immediate and serious consequences. Domestic violence jail time can range from 30 days (4th degree misdemeanor) to 6 months (1st degree misdemeanor) to over a year (felony) or more depending on the circumstances. Aside from jail time, people tend to assume the worst, and domestic violence accusations can tarnish your reputation even before you have a chance to fight the charges. Knowing the law about domestic violence in Ohio can help you face the challenges that arise after a domestic violence charge. What Is Domestic Violence? According to Ohio state statutes, both actual and intended or threatened harm to a household member are considered domestic violence. In Ohio, domestic violence includes intentionally causing or attempting to cause harm to a family or household member. It also includes recklessly causing serious physical harm to a household or family member. Even actions that were not specifically intended to harm someone can be domestic violence.  Threats of physical force are also considered domestic violence if they are intended to make a household or family member believe that physical harm is imminent. A family member does not have to suffer any visible injuries to make a claim for domestic violence. Ohio law defines “family or household member” as a spouse, former spouse, partner, parent, foster parent, child, or any other relative who is residing or has resided with you. The definition also includes the natural parent of any child of whom you are the other natural parent, regardless of where they reside.  Common Domestic Violence Scenarios Domestic violence includes harmful contact such as slapping, choking, pushing, any type of hitting, and physical restraint. It can also include actions that do not result in harmful physical contact. Throwing things at a person or brandishing weapons or sharp objects to threaten someone can be considered domestic violence. How Much Time Do You Get in Jail for Domestic Violence? Domestic violence charges and jail time look different depending on the situation. If you have never been convicted or pleaded guilty to domestic violence before, you could face a first degree misdemeanor conviction for actual or attempted harm. A first time conviction for threatened harm is a fourth degree misdemeanor. The judge has the final say about sentencing, but domestic violence jail time can range between 0 to 30 days for a fourth degree misdemeanor and up to six months for a first degree misdemeanor. Both convictions may result in fines in addition to jail time. The consequences are more severe if you have a prior conviction for domestic violence. With priors, actual or attempted harm becomes a fourth degree felony and threatened harm becomes a second degree misdemeanor. A fourth degree felony conviction may result in six to 18 months of jail time. In addition, if you knew that the household member bringing the charges was pregnant at the time of the alleged incident, you can face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six to twelve months. Finally, a domestic violence conviction in Ohio will always remain on one’s record as they are currently not offenses that are eligible to be sealed or expunged. Domestic violence charges carry serious penalties. It is important to talk to an experienced defense attorney right away if you have been charged with domestic violence. Possible Defenses There are a few defenses you can use to fight a charge and avoid domestic violence jail time. A skilled defense attorney will know which defense is best for you. Burden of Proof Criminal charges such as domestic violence require that the prosecution prove your guilt. Your attorney can defend you against a domestic violence charge by casting enough doubt on the prosecutor’s evidence. If the prosecution does not meet their burden of proof, you must be found not guilty. False Accusations Your accuser may have a reason to falsely accuse you of domestic violence. Domestic violence accusations can affect divorce proceedings and child custody and visitation rights. A spouse or partner may make a false accusation to get a certain custody outcome or a better divorce settlement. A skilled attorney may be able to help you prove that the domestic violence allegations against you are false. Self Defense   Self defense is another possible defense to domestic violence. An attorney can help you establish that you were using reasonable force to defend yourself against intentional harm from the other party. How We Can Help At Gounaris Abboud, our attorneys have combined experience of more than 50 years and a history of producing results for our clients. Our criminal defense lawyers are ready to listen to the details of your situation and advise you on your next steps. Contact us today at 937-222-1515 to discuss your case with a bold, dedicated Ohio defense attorney.

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Tips for Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

When you face criminal charges, you need the best lawyer you can get. The founders enshrined the right to an attorney in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution because it is critical for defendants to have legal counsel. If you were arrested, you should have received a Miranda warning informing you of your right to an attorney. As part of that warning, the officer probably said, “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” This means that you have three choices for representation when facing criminal charges: Defend yourself without the assistance of an attorney, Ask for a court-appointed attorney, or Hire a criminal defense lawyer. While you can’t guarantee a successful outcome with any of these choices, hiring a criminal defense lawyer usually gives you the best legal representation. Defending yourself is a risky move because you may not understand the complexities of criminal law. Accepting a public defender seems like a good option, but these attorneys are often burdened with excessive workloads.  Hiring an attorney can feel like a complicated challenge because there are so many lawyers out there. If you have the resources to hire a criminal defense lawyer, you may wonder, How do I choose a criminal defense attorney near me?  Four Tips for Choosing a Criminal Defense Lawyer Here, we’ll share four tips that should make your criminal defense lawyer search easier. Closer Isn’t Always Better You may be tempted to choose a lawyer close to your home. You want to know, Is there a criminal defense lawyer near me? This is certainly a convenient option, but a close lawyer isn’t always best. Be willing to drive a little to find experienced legal representation. Ask for References Do you know anyone else who faced criminal charges? Ask that person if they had a good attorney. If you know an attorney who practices a different area of law—like divorces or real estate—ask them for a criminal defense attorney recommendation.  Run an Attorney Search Online Find attorney reviews online on sites like Avvo, Facebook, or Google. Experienced attorneys may have hundreds of reviews posted online. Read through other clients’ feedback to feel more confident about your attorney choice. Consult Your Local or State Bar Association’s Attorney Directory The Ohio State Bar Association offers an attorney directory and even lets you sort results by specialty. Also, if you would like to understand more about the law surrounding your criminal charge, this site is full of legal information.  Were you recently charged with a crime? If you were recently charged with a crime text us the details Text Us on Mobile For a Free Case Analysis Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lawyer Once you find a potential attorney, you’ll want to schedule a consultation. This meeting allows you to share your experience with the attorney and receive legal direction. The attorney can offer potential strategies, and you can ask questions. When you speak to an attorney, be sure to ask them these questions: How long have you been practicing? Do you offer free consultations? Have you handled cases like mine? How do your fees work? If you decide to hire the criminal defense lawyer, you’ll sign a contract so your attorney can start your defense. Choosing the Right Attorney Is Crucial When you face criminal charges, your freedom is on the line. You need to pay careful attention to each step you take after you’re charged. Every interaction you have with the police could put your defense at risk. An attorney can advise you on what to say and not say when speaking to the police. You need a criminal defense lawyer with the knowledge to present your best defense. An experienced attorney will use every legal strategy available to set you free. You’ll want to find a law firm with a successful record and plenty of passion for their work.  You’ll find all of these qualifications and more at Gounaris Abboud, LPA. Our Ohio criminal defense attorneys have a combined 50 years of legal experience. We offer confident, aggressive criminal defense as we attempt to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Get an Opinion on Your Case Today Stop worrying about how to defend yourself against criminal charges, and take action. Schedule a consultation with the experienced attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA. We’ll review your case, answer your questions, and get started on your best defense. Call our knowledgeable law firm today at 937-222-1515 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. 

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Understanding Vehicular Assault in Ohio

Automobiles make getting around much easier than in the dusty days of the horse and buggy. However, cars can also be dangerous. The average car weighs about 3,000 pounds and can travel at speeds over 100 miles per hour. You may face criminal charges if you harm someone with your car. Vehicular assault charges could lead to potentially serious penalties and lasting consequences.  Have you been charged with vehicular assault? If so, you need a knowledgeable Ohio attorney to fight for your freedom. At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, our skilled attorneys defend clients against vehicular assault charges. Here, we’ll share more information on vehicular assault in Ohio. What Is Vehicular Assault? Vehicular assault involves seriously harming someone while recklessly driving a vehicle. In Ohio, vehicular assault is a felony offense that carries harsh penalties. Factors such as harming someone with a vehicle while intoxicated heighten the charge to aggravated vehicular assault. What Are the Charges for Vehicular Assault? Ohio vehicular assault charges come in two forms: vehicular assault and aggravated vehicular assault.  Vehicular Assault in Ohio You may face vehicular assault charges if you:  Seriously harm someone while recklessly operating a vehicle, or Seriously harm someone while speeding in a construction zone. Reckless operation of a vehicle means that you intentionally drove in a way that you knew posed a danger to others. Examples of reckless driving might include excessive speeding or swerving in and out of traffic. If you are convicted of vehicular assault in Ohio, you face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. If this is a repeat offense, vehicular assault comes with a mandatory prison sentence. Aggravated Vehicular Assault in Ohio You may face aggravated vehicular assault charges if you: Seriously harm someone with a vehicle while driving under the influence, or Unsafely operate an aircraft and cause serious harm. Aggravated vehicular assault sentencing can increase penalties significantly. An aggravated vehicular assault conviction includes a prison sentence of one to five years and a license suspension of up to ten years. Penalties increase for repeat offenders.  What Are the Defenses to Vehicular Assault in Ohio? As a criminal defendant, you don’t have to prove anything. The prosecutor has the burden of proof and must prove each element of vehicular assault beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are accused of vehicular assault or aggravated vehicular assault in Ohio, you need a skilled attorney to negotiate for a lesser charge. Your attorney’s job is to cast doubt on at least one element of the prosecutor’s case.  Here are some common defenses we use in vehicular assault cases: You weren’t the person who was driving, You weren’t driving recklessly, There weren’t signs indicating a construction zone, You didn’t cause the accident, No one was seriously harmed by your vehicle, or Your breathalyzer or blood tests were inaccurate. When you meet with our Ohio vehicular assault attorneys, we will review your accident experience and formulate your best defense.  How Our Lawyers Can Help You may feel stress and anxiety when you face vehicular assault charges. These worries are understandable because your freedom is on the line. Since vehicular assault is a serious charge, you should hire an experienced vehicular assault attorney.  At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, our vehicular assault defense attorneys have a combined 50 years of legal experience. We offer dedicated, compassionate legal services, working to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Contact us online or call us today at 937-222-1515 to schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable attorneys.

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