This blog is a part of series of reviews of important court decisions for the residents of Medina County, Wayne County and Summit County. These decisions usually come from the United States Supreme Court, the Ohio Supreme Court or the Ninth District Court of Appeals. In this series, Attorney Daniel Gigiano reviews such decisions and their impact on people’s lives.
Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a decision on misdemeanor sentences. Prior to this decision, some courts allowed misdemeanor sentences to be tacked onto felony sentences, commonly referred to as consecutive sentences. Other courts required such sentences to run at the same time, commonly known as concurrent sentences. One of the duties of the Ohio Supreme Court is to resolve such conflicts so that the people of the State of Ohio have one rule throughout the state, rather than rules that change depending on which county your court is in. This reduces confusion and promotes uniformity of laws.
In a 2016 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that misdemeanor sentences should be served concurrently with felony sentences. In other words, the sentences should be served at the same time, rather than back-to-back.
In this important case, the Defendant pled guilty to a count of felony receiving stolen property and a count of misdemeanor receiving stolen property. The trial judge sentenced the Defendant to 11 months in prison for the felony and 6 months in jail for the misdemeanor, each to run consecutively for a total of 17 months. The Defendant was charged with two more felony counts of receiving stolen property. He pled to those and received two more consecutive sentences of 11 months each for a total of 22 months to begin after he finished serving the 17 months from the previous conviction. Facing such an inordinate amount of time, the Defendant appealed.
The Ohio Supreme Court decided that Ohio law generally required misdemeanor sentences to be served at the same time as felony sentences. This same Ohio law lists three exceptions to this rule: (1) pandering sexually oriented matter involving children; (2) escape; and (3) possession of a deadly weapon while under detention. These misdemeanors were classified as being serious enough to allow, but not require, the jail sentences to run consecutively with a separate felony conviction.
Attorney Daniel Gigiano believes the Ohio Supreme Court got this one right. A plain reading of Ohio Revised Code 2929.41 supports this result. While there is language in the statute that opponents would say supports a different result, that language does not create a new rule, but simply clarifies how to carry out the rule that misdemeanor and felony offenses are to be served concurrently.
Attorney Daniel Gigiano’s office is located in downtown Wadsworth, Ohio. He has been practicing since 1993 and in Ohio since 1999. He can be reached at 330-336-3330.