Title: Ohio House Bill 315 and Senate Bill 182 – Make Bail Changes
Status: Introduced on 5/18/21; Referred to Committee on 5/19/21
Summary: Ohio House Bill 315 and Senate Bill 182, both introduced on May 18, 2021, seek to dramatically reform cash bail in Ohio. The bills would not eliminate cash bail for any crime but requires that prosecutors hold a bail hearing within 48 hours of an arrest to prove why a defendant ought to be held on cash bail. If a judge requires cash bail, the defendant will be screened for his or her monthly income, minus household expenses. Bail cannot exceed 25% of a defendant’s discretionary income (calculated as net income minus rent, utilities, car payments, childcare, etc.), so that a person with less than $1,000 in “extra income” would not have to pay more than $250 toward bail. Individuals accused of violent crimes, or whom prosecutors believe pose a danger to the community, would not be eligible for the special hearing on cash bail. These bills follow behind one of the Ohio Supreme Court Bail Taskforce’s recommendations; reduce cash bail for low-income defendants and create a uniform bail schedule, beginning July 1, 2021, for counties with multiple municipal courts and county courts. Senator Rob McColley, R-Napoleon and Representative David Leland, D-Columbus, along with 48 other state lawmakers, sponsored the two companion bills in the Ohio House and Senate.
Committees: House – Criminal Justice; Senate – Judiciary

Title: Ohio House Bill 101 – Regards Funding Jail Construction / Maintenance
Status: Introduced on 2/10/21 and Referred to Committee on 2/17/21
Summary: The bill creates a financing system for the state to aid counties in constructing or renovating county jail facilities, subject to the approval of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (Ohio DRC). The DRC will conduct a needs assessment of a county upon request of the board of county commissioners, or upon request of a multi-county jail facilities commission (MCJFC). The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) and the DRC will work together to develop a set of minimum standards for the construction of jail facilities and a formula ranking counties based on needs, by using a percentile ranking, which accounts for the county’s need versus the funds it can raise to contribute to the project.
Committees: House – Infrastructure and Rural Development

Title: Ohio HB 22 – Expand The Offense of Obstructing Justice
Status: Introduced on 2/3/21; Referred to Committee on 2/4/21
Summary: Obstruction of justice will be expanded to include failure to follow a law enforcement officer’s orders or diverting an officer’s attention, under certain circumstances. The bill qualifies the following behavior as obstruction: with the purpose to hinder the discovery, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of another person for a crime or to assist another person to benefit from the commission of a crime, by failing to obey a lawful order. If the underlying conduct of the person is a misdemeanor, then the obstructing person will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if the person that is being detained by law enforcement is suspected of a committing a felony in the third, fourth or fifth degree, the person engaging in obstructive conduct will be charged with a fifth-degree felony. If the detained person is accused of murder, aggravated murder, terrorism, human trafficking, or a first- or second-degree felony, a person obstructing justice, by aiding the detained person, can be charged with a first-degree felony for failing to abide by the lawful order of a police officer.
Sponsor Testimony: Michael Weinman, Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio (Proponent); Micah Derry, Americans for Prosperity of Ohio (Opponent); Kevin Werner, The Ohio Justice and Policy Center (Opponent)
Committees: House – Criminal Justice

Title: Ohio SB 25 – Enact Relapse Reduction Act Regarding Drug Tests and Trafficking
Status: Third Hearing 5/25/21
Summary: The bill enhances the penalties for most drug trafficking offenses when committed within 1,000 feet or on the premises of a substance addiction provider’s facility, if the person recklessly disregards that they are trafficking drugs within that vicinity. The penalties are the same as trafficking drugs within a school zone or near a juvenile. Furthermore, the bill criminalizes fraudulently submitting someone else’s urine for an alcohol, drug, or urine screening test, or using synthetic urine or a urine additive to conceal a person’s drug use prior to a drug screening. The first offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, with subsequent violations leading to increased criminal penalties. Individuals in possession of a urine additive for bona fide medical, scientific, or law enforcement purposes are not subject to criminal liabilities under the law.
Committee: Senate - Judiciary

Title: Ohio HB 8 – Revise Electronic Recording of Custodial Interrogations
Status: Third Hearing on 5/11/21
Summary: The bill requires that an oral statement made during a police/custodial interrogation be recorded If the person is suspected of committing aggravated, murder, voluntary manslaughter, first- or second-degree involuntary manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide, rape, attempted rape, or sexual battery. A recording presumes the person made the statements voluntarily and places the burden on the person making the statements to prove the statements were involuntary. If the statements were not recorded, the agency employing a law enforcement officer, who fails to electronically record statements, can be subject to private liability and the prosecution must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence that one of the following exceptions applies to the recording:
  • That the person making the statements during interrogation asked not to be recorded
  • The recording equipment was malfunctioning
  • There were exigent circumstances around public safety which prohibited the recording of the statements
  • The interrogation was outside of Ohio
  • The statements were made during routine processing or booking
  • The statements were made spontaneously and not in response to an interrogation; or
  • The statements were made when no law enforcement officer conducting the interview had reason to believe the person committed, attempted, or conspire to commit, or was complicit in committing one of the aforementioned crimes.
Prosecutors who are unable to prove that one of the above exceptions applies will be subject to a court jury instruction that the failure to record the custodial interrogation makes the underlying evidence can be treated as cautionary.
Committees: Senate - Judiciary

Title: Ohio HB 183 and Ohio SB 103 – Abolish the Death Penalty; Revise Juror Challenge Numbers
Status: First hearing in the Senate on 3/31/21; First hearing in the House on 4/15/21
Summary: The bill abolishes the death penalty in Ohio. It requires that a person who is convicted or pleads guilty to aggravated murder be sentenced to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after twenty or thirty years, or without parole. If a person is convicted or pleads guilty to aggravated murder with sexual motivation against a victim under age 13, the person will be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole under the Sexually Violent Predator Sentencing Law. Nothing in the bill nullifies or mitigates a previous sentence of death for a person convicted prior to the bill’s effective date. A person whose death sentence was set aside, nullified or vacated under an existing provision but was not resentenced under that provision, prior to this bill’s effective date, must be resentenced in accordance with that provision as it existed immediately before the bill’s effective date.
Committees: Senate – Judiciary; House – Criminal Justice

Title: OH SB 256 – Sending Juveniles Under 18 When Commit Offense
Status: Effective Date 4/12/21
Sponsor Testimony: Senator Nathan Manning, Senator Peggy Lehner
Proponent Testimony: Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth, Ohio Conservative Juvenile Justice Network, Ohio State University, Alliance for Safety and Justice, and others
Opponent Testimony: Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Jessica Combs
Summary: The law provides that individuals who were juveniles at the time they committed an offense, other than aggravated homicide or are serving consecutive prison sentences for multiple offenses (not including homicide) are eligible for special parole eligibility dates. Individuals who were convicted as juveniles of aggravated homicide or for terrorism, when the most serious offense underlying the terrorism offense was aggravated murder or murder, are they are not eligible for parole review other than what is listed in their sentencing guidelines.
Committees: Senate Judiciary

Title: Ohio HB 285 – Establish Driver’s License Reinstatement Fee Debt Reduction Program
Status: Bill Effective 9/15/2020
Summary: The bill makes the license suspension pilot program permanent and requires the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to automatically notify, by either regular mail or email, drivers who may qualify for the program. In addition, individuals who did not receive a notice, but wish to apply in person at the BMV or a deputy registrar office, may do so. The previous pilot program granted fee reductions or total waivers of license reinstatement fees owed to the BMV for driving while under suspension and if the suspension was due to an eligible offense. Under the current bill, if a person’s license was suspended for an eligible offense, it has been 18 months since the suspension and they have completed all court-ordered sanctions, they could be eligible for a complete or partial waiver of reinstatement fees, depending upon their level of indigency.
Committees: Senate – Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs
Testimony: Representative Greespan – Sponsor; Representative Brent - Sponsor

Title: Ohio HB 263 - Revise Occupational License Restrictions for Former Criminals
Status: Certain provisions effective 4/12/21; Entire bill effective 10/9/21
Summary: The bill requires that every state licensing authority establish a list of specific criminal offenses for which a conviction, judicial finding of guilt, or plea of guilty may disqualify an individual from obtaining an occupational license. This list may include only criminal offenses that are directly related to the responsibilities of the licensed occupation and must be published on a public website by October 9, 2021. If an individual has been convicted of a disqualifying offense, the licensing board may only consider the offense during the following time periods, whichever is later: Five years from the date of the conviction, judicial finding of guilty or guilty plea; Five years from the date of a person's prison release; or the period of community control sanction, parole, or PRC or that period plus the number of years necessary to equal five years if the sanction or parole was for a period of less than five years. Furthermore, a person should not have been convicted of another crime during the five-year waiting period and could not have been convicted of a crime that involved a breach of fiduciary duty, a violent or sex offense, if seeking an occupational license. If the offense involved a breach of a fiduciary duty, there is a ten-year waiting period.

Finally, a state licensing authority cannot refuse to issue a license to a person based solely on their criminal conviction or for a nonspecific qualification like "moral turpitude" or lack of "moral character." If an individual is denied an occupational license, the state licensing authority must notify the applicant in writing of their denial and make note of the reasons for refusal, provide information about a person's right to a hearing under the Administrative Procedure Act, earliest date the applicant may reapply, and notice that evidence of rehabilitation may be considered upon reapplication. The burden is on the state licensing authority to prove the relationship between the disqualifying offense and licensed occupation.
Committees: House- Commerce and Labor
Proponent Testimonies: Representative Kyle Koehler; Michael Shields, Policy Matters Ohio; Daniel Dew, The Buckeye Institute

Title: Ohio HB 1 – Modify ILC and Record Sealing Requirements
Status: Effective date 4/12/21
John J. Drew Witness Testimony
Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (ILC)
The bill would broaden the scope of “intervention in lieu of conviction” (ILC) program to require a court, at a minimum, to hold an eligibility hearing for each application for ILC that alleges the individual committed their crime because of drug or alcohol usage. If the offense was committed for other reasons, the court may reject the application without a hearing. Individuals convicted of a felony sex offense or anyone charged with a first-, second-, or third-degree felony, or an offense of violence, are ineligible for ILC. Other individuals who are ineligible for ILC include: persons previously convicted of a violent felony; persons charged with specified drug offenses; anyone who committed an offense against a victim over 65 or under 13, a victim that was permanently or totally disabled, or a peace officer; or anyone who didn't comply with all the court's terms and imposed conditions.

The bill also requires the court to presume ILC is appropriate and to grant a request for ILC unless the court finds specific reasons to believe that the candidate’s participation in ILC would be inappropriate. If the person is denied admittance into ILC, the court must state the reasons for the denial in a written entry. However, if the person is approved for a diversion program, the bill caps the mandatory terms of the plan at no more than five years and the person must do the following for at least one year after the ILC is granted: 1) Abstain from the use of illegal drugs and alcohol; 2) Participate in treatment and recovery support services; and 3) Submit to regular random drug and alcohol testing. Finally, if approved, the person must enter a guilty plea to participate in the ILC program and upon their successful completion of all court requirements have their guilty plea and criminal conviction dismissed by the court.

Record sealing changes
Record sealing in Ohio is also modified under the bill by removing the cap on eligibility for fourth or fifth-degree felony and misdemeanor offenses and raising the caps for those lower-level felonies and misdemeanor offenses. A person who has one or more fourth and fifth-degree felonies that are not offenses of violence or sex offenses, can have their record(s) sealed after the applicable waiting period. Persons who are ineligible to have their record sealed under the above provision, can have up to two felony convictions and not more than four misdemeanor convictions sealed. Or, if the person has exactly two felony convictions, they can have not more than two felony and two misdemeanor convictions sealed. There have also been changes in the time limits when a person will be eligible to have their criminal record sealed. The following records are still ineligible for record sealing:
  • Convictions with a mandatory prison term
  • Convictions for rape, sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition, sexual imposition, pandering obscenity involving a minor, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, illegal use of a minor in a nudity-oriented material or performance, or various traffic laws
  • Convictions of an offense of violence when the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor or felony and is not a first-degree misdemeanor riot, assault, or inciting to violence, or inducing panic offense
  • Convictions on or after October 10, 2007, of importuning or a municipal ordinance similar to that offense
  • Convictions on or after October 10, 2007, of voyeurism, public indecency, compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution, procuring, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, displaying matter harmful to juveniles, pandering obscenity, or deception to obtain matter harmful to juveniles when the victim was a person under 18 years old
  • Convictions of a first-degree misdemeanor or felony offense against a victim who was 16 years old or younger, other than convictions for nonsupport or contributing to nonsupport of dependents
  • Convictions for first-degree felonies or second-degree felonies
  • Bail forfeitures in traffic cases.

Committees: House – Criminal Justice