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Ohio Juvenile Offenses Cannot Enhance Ohio Adult Offenses

Updated on September 3, 2016

Ohio Juvenile Findings Cannot Elevate Adult Crimes

Ohio Juvenile offenses cannot enhance Ohio adult offenses. Ohio courts and Ohio prosecutors have been using juvenile delinquency findings to elevate an adult offense to a higher level offense and to impose mandatory minimum sentences on adult offenses. In 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court tackled this issue when the Court decided that juvenile adjudications cannot be used to enhance the degree or sentence of an adult offense.

The Ohio And U.S. Constitutions' Due Process Clauses

The Ohio Supreme Court, in its decision, determined that enhancing adult offenses with juvenile adjudications was a violation of due process of law. Because juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial, it is not fair to use such offenses to enhance adult offenses. While juveniles are given many rights, they are not given the right to a jury trial. Not having the right to a jury trial in juvenile proceedings is part of the less formal nature of juvenile cases. The less formal proceedings conflict with the more formal and punitive adult criminal procedures that do afford the right to a jury trial. The Ohio Supreme Court resolved this conflict in favor of not allowing a delinquency finding to be used to enhance the offense or punishment of offenses committed by adults.

Ohio Juveniles Have Many Of The Same Rights As Adults

In reaching this conclusion, the Ohio Supreme Court examined the rights Ohio juveniles do have. Juveniles have the right to counsel during juvenile proceedings. The state may not use a prior, uncounseled juvenile adjudication to enhance a sentence for a later DUI violation unless the juvenile waived counsel. Juveniles have the right against self-incrimination and double jeopardy. The Ohio Supreme Court also noted that it recently held that the statutory presumption of voluntariness of a recorded custodial statement is unconstitutional as applied to juveniles. Juveniles also have the right to receive notice of the charges and to force the state to prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Juveniles cannot be sentenced to death. Juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole for nonhomicide offenses. Juveniles cannot face mandatory life without parole.

Attorney Daniel Gigiano Reviews The Ohio Supreme Court’s Decision Limiting The Use Of Juvenile Adjudications

The Ohio Supreme Court got this one right. The right to a jury trial can be a game-changer in criminal law. Not having such a right can really hinder a juvenile’s ability to mount a defense and any bargaining power in plea bargains. On the flip side, juveniles rarely face the kinds of severe sentences that adults may face for similar crimes. Faced with the difficulty of winning in juvenile court and with more lenient sentences, juveniles often admit to the offense more readily than their adult counterparts. Using these offenses to later enhance adult offenses is unfair, as many of those juveniles may have won, if they had the right to a jury trial.

Meet The Author - Attorney Daniel Gigiano

Attorney Daniel Gigiano has practiced criminal law since 1993. In 2002, he started his current firm, Daniel F. Gigiano Co., L.P.A., where he regularly defends individuals in criminal and juvenile cases. Daniel Gigiano has experienced both juvenile and adult criminal courts as both an assistant prosecutor and a defense attorney. In doing so, Attorney Daniel Gigiano experienced first hand the marked difference between juvenile court and adult criminal court. Attorney Daniel Gigiano’s office is located in downtown Wadsworth, Medina County, Ohio.


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