Facing Domestic Violence charges during quarantine.

Facing Domestic Violence charges during quarantine.

There is one thing for sure during a quarantine, domestic violence cases are on the rise. We’ve seen this happen already in countless towns and cities across the country. Columbus is no exception. Advice from healthcare professionals is unanimous; if there are domestic violence concerns in a house, get out! But what if you’re the one accused of domestic violence?

Depending on the seriousness of the occurrence, Domestic Violence can be charged as a Misdemeanor or a Felony. Both are separated into degrees, with First Degree being the most serious. For an offense that has allegedly caused actual physical harm to the victim, a defendant could be charged with anything from a 1st degree misdemeanor to a 3rd degree felony. For threats of physical harm against another person, an offender can be charged with anything from a fourth degree misdemeanor to a first degree misdemeanor.

What if the alleged victim wants to withdraw domestic violence charges?

In domestic violence cases, once the case enters the Court system, the State is reluctant to withdraw charges even if the victim recants or decides they no longer wish to see charges pursued. However, a prosecutor will give a great deal of weight to a victim’s request that the State withdraw criminal charges. But what if the State doesn’t withdraw the charges.

Here at Terry Sherman Law, we have a strong history of success in negotiating reduced charges and even dismissals for clients when the victim recants.

What if this is my first domestic violence charge?

Defendants who have never been in trouble with Domestic Violence charges before will often be charged with a Misdemeanor, usually of the first degree. However, depending on the circumstances, sometimes a defendant is charged with a lesser offense, even a fourth degree misdemeanor. If the harm to the alleged victim is very serious, a defendant could be charged with a felony even on the first offense. Certainly, during the course of the criminal proceedings, we will attempt to convince the Court to reduce the charges to a less serious offense to even to dismiss the charges altogether.

What if I have been convicted of domestic violence before?

Defendants with a prior conviction(s) face a very serious charge. After a first domestic violence conviction, defendants will be charged with a mandatory felony for any subsequent violations.

How can I fight domestic violence charges?

Due to the seriousness of the charges and the possibility of a conviction, it’s highly recommended that you hire an attorney immediately and to do so prior to the first hearing if possible. It is also advisable, with a Domestic Violence charge or any other criminal charge that you not talk to any police or detectives before hiring an attorney.

Attorney Terry Sherman will help protect your rights and develop defense strategies to increase your chances of having your charges dismissed or significantly reduced. Ohio domestic violence law is complex. We can help you understand the strength of your case, and the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

During your first visit or phone call, we can do an initial assessment of your case, and give you a good idea of your personalized defense strategy including how much our services will cost.

Don’t wait. Contact us today.

I am the victim of domestic abuse. What can I do?

If you are the victim of domestic violence, stay with friends or family during this uncertain time. If you are in need of assistance with filing an injunction from your abuser, contact our office, and we will help.

If you have been charged with domestic violence yourself, call our office and we will get started building your defense. Stay safe, and hopefully, we can all make it through this pandemic.

Ohio Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-934-9840

Am I eligible for record expungement?

Am I eligible for record expungement?

A past mistake or a poor decision can leave you with a criminal record that will follow you throughout life. Luckily, the Ohio courts have mercy on those that have made a terrible mistake. An expungement can give you a second chance. If a criminal record is expunged, for all intents and purposes the court proceedings surrounding the arrest are considered not to have occurred.

There are two expungement scenarios:

Records are simply sealed. In this instance the expunged records are still available to law enforcement, sentencing judges, subsequent offenses, and correction facilities.
Records are completely destroyed. In this instance, it will be as if the incident never occurred in the first place.

Expungement Eligibility Wait Times

In Ohio, only an “Eligible Offender” may receive an expungement and sealing of their record. The definition of an eligible offender under the Ohio expungement law can be complicated since it’s determined by statute and Ohio case law.

Under Ohio law, there is a waiting period after a criminal case is closed before a person is eligible to apply for an expungement.

  • For Misdemeanor Convictions, the waiting period is one year.
  • Felony convictions require a waiting period of three years.
  • If a person has a record for a bail forfeiture out of a municipal court or county court, the waiting period before they can apply for an expungement and sealing is one year.
  • There is no waiting period to file for an expungement and sealing for Dismissed Charges and Acquittal of Charges and they can be sealed any time after the conclusion of the case.

The exception: If you have been charged with two or more offenses in one case, and at least one of the charges has a different sentence or penalty than the of other charges, you may not apply for an expungement for the lesser charge(s) until the expiration of the mandatory waiting period of the serious charge(s).

For example, if you were charged with a misdemeanor and a felony at the same time, you could not apply for misdemeanor expungement until the waiting period has expired for the felonious offense.

Expungement Exceptions

There are still exclusions to eligibility even if you’ve met the wait time.

Given that the waiting period for the type of record to be expunged has been met; there are no pending charges against you; and the conviction or record is one permitted by Ohio Expungement Law, then you have to know how many convictions or records can be expunged.

People with the following convictions or combination of convictions are eligible for an expungement and sealing of their record:

  • One felony conviction; or
  • One misdemeanor conviction; or
  • One felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction even if they are not related to the same case, or
  • Two misdemeanor convictions even if they are not related to the same case.

It is however, important to note that convictions for minor misdemeanors, including most non-serious traffic offenses do not count as conviction. Further, 2-3 convictions related to the same case are considered as one conviction.

Be aware, that there are a lot of exceptions and qualifications to these rules. Here are some general rules about what types of crimes that are not eligible for expungement:

  • First and second-degree felonies
  • Conviction of 3 or more crimes out of separate cases
  • Conviction of 2 or more felonies out of separate cases
  • Conviction of felony sex crimes
  • Conviction of first-degree Domestic Violence (felony or misdemeanor)
  • DUI’s
  • Convictions for crimes that carry a mandatory prison sentence
  • Felonies and/or first-degree misdemeanors committed against a minor or minors
  • Most violent crimes (Misdemeanor Assault can be expunged)
  • You cannot obtain an expungement if you have any current pending criminal or traffic charges

It is highly recommended to hire an attorney who understands the complexities in the Ohio Court system. Call Columbus defense attorney Terry Sherman to discuss the process.

What you need to know about violating probation.

What you need to know about violating probation.

Most people sentenced to probation are breathing a sigh of relief that they managed to avoid a harsher punishment and jail time. But, it’s not long before you realize just how restrictive the parameters of probation can be.

One key thing you need to keep in mind is that you can still make the situation worse. Whether intentionally or accidentally, if you violate the terms of your probation, it’s a criminal offense.

So, how do probation violations happen? Here are some of the main ways:

  1. The court tells you to come in at a set time and day, and you fail to show up for that court appearance.
  2. You’re ordered to pay specific fines, and you fail to do so.
  3. You commit another crime, even if it’s considered to be a “minor” offense, while still on probation.
  4. You get arrested by the police for any type of offense while still on probation.
  5. Using illegal drugs. You could also get in trouble for simply possessing them.
  6. You visit people or go to specific places that are prohibited under the terms of your probation.
  7. You decide to leave the state, even for a seemingly innocent reason. In some cases, you can get permission to leave the state from your probation officer, but you have to do this in advance.

As you can see, it’s critical to both understand the terms of your probation and to know exactly what legal steps to take if accused of violating those terms.

If you’ve violated probation, don’t wait to seek legal help. Call Terry Sherman today. The call is free and completely confidential.

DUI: 8 Vital Things to Remember

DUI: 8 Vital Things to Remember

It’s the holiday season! You can probably guess that this time of year sees a dramatic increase in DUI arrests. Over the holidays, drinking and driving have become a serious issue. Between office parties and family get-togethers, many people are less vigilant about staying sober when they know they’ll be driving, or refusing to drive at all when they have been drinking.

Thanks to DUI statistics over the years, police officers can now forecast which holidays have an increased risk for drunk driving, which means they’re hyper-vigilant during these times. Because of this, DUIs skyrocket over the holidays.

Of course, the best way to avoid a DUI on these holidays is to avoid drinking at all, but if you find yourself facing a DUI charge, here are some things you’ll want to know.

1. You can get a DUI even if you don’t feel drunk.

There is no scale that tips when your blood alcohol content goes from 0.07 percent to 0.09 percent. You don’t suddenly feel drunk or start falling over. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the difference between a BAC of 0.05 and 0.08 includes effects like:

  • Difficulty detecting danger
  • Impaired self-control
  • Diminished muscle coordination
  • Problems controlling speed

These are hardly measurable effects, and there may still be no outward or visible indication of intoxication, even at 0.08 percent. Because of this, people might feel completely comfortable having another drink. In the eyes of the law, someone who is just barely over the legal limit can face the same penalties as someone who is clearly displaying signs of intoxication.

2. Cooperate

If you’re pulled over by a police officer under suspicion of driving under the influence, it is imperative that you cooperate with him or her at all times. Even if you are severely intoxicated, you should do your best to comply with the officer’s requests. Do not argue with a police officer under any circumstances. Remember that your lack of consent can affect you adversely later in court

3. Your car might be towed

If you’re charged with a DUI, the officer will transport you to the police station in a patrol car. Your vehicle will probably be towed at your expense, and you’ll be notified as to which company has towed your vehicle and will be given the contact information to retrieve it. Contact the towing company that impounded your vehicle as soon as possible and arrange for it to be picked up and pay all towing costs.

4. Booked, processed, contact your lawyer.

After you arrive at the police station, you can expect to wait for up to several hours before being processed. If this is your first offense, the process will take longer. Your fingerprints and mugshot will be taken and an investigator or other police officer may ask you questions about the circumstances of your driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You will be given the opportunity to contact your attorney prior to your arraignment. This is extremely important…ask for a lawyer. Contact DUI Defense Attorney Terry Sherman.

5. You may be incarcerated, you may be released.

The length of time you stay at the police station depends on several factors, including the location of your DUI, your age, criminal record, the severity of your intoxication, as well as other factors. If you’re to be released on bond, you will be given the opportunity to contact a bondsman, friend, or relative to arrange for the amount to be paid and for someone to pick you up from the police station. In some cases, you will be incarcerated immediately. Nevertheless, be prepared to remain at the police station for a minimum of several hours before the logistics of your DUI charge are settled.

6. You’ll go before a Judge.

If charged with a DUI, you will likely have to appear in court to receive your sentencing. You will have the option of using your own attorney or being appointed one by the court. Remain calm and respectful during the court proceedings at all costs. Answer any questions truthfully and make sure you do so with your attorney by your side. If you fail to appear in court the judge will most likely issue a warrant for your arrest.

7. Community service and/or fines.

Several people who are charged with DUI are required to complete community service or court referral programs. If you’re one of them, complete these programs as soon as possible so that it can be reported back to the court that you have fulfilled your sentencing. Remember to pay any fines in full as soon as you are able. Typically, there are payment plan options available.

8. Long-term consequences.

If you get a DUI, the charge will probably stay on your record for several years, if not permanently. Potential employers will be able to view these records before they hire you, so if you’re planning to look for a new job in the near future, be upfront and honest about your DUI charge. It’s better to explain the situation beforehand than appear to be covering it up.
Of course, be careful this holiday season. Use Uber, Lyft, or a designated driver. However, should the worst happen and you do get arrested for a DUI, contact a DUI attorney Terry Sherman as soon as possible for legal help.

Even online, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Even online, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on social media, you likely read abusive and offensive statements posted or left as comments to a post.

Justin Olsen, an 18-year-old Ohio man has been arrested and is facing state and federal charges after investigators claimed he made threats against federal law enforcement and Planned Parenthood. The FBI investigation found multiple entries in which Olsen posted his support of mass shootings, and cited a target of Planned Parenthood.

Olsen was arrested on Aug. 7 and told the FBI that his posts were “only a joke”. He was booked into the Mahoning County Jail on state charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, and the federal charge of threatening a federal law enforcement officer.

Is abusive language unlawful?

Although the Justin Olsen’s charges are severe for online behavior, a malicious or threatening post may qualify as defamation. Defamation is the publication of a statement about someone which hurts their reputation in the eyes of members of society.

Abusive language is always in bad taste but it is unlikely to break the law unless threatening or contains criminal intent.

Can I be arrested for releasing a video?

Richard Godbehere, a Hawaii native, knows all too well about the repercussions that come with “over-sharing”. In February, he uploaded a 5 minute video of himself driving, then cracking open a beer and taking a drink. He made a joke stating “We all know drinking and driving is against the law. You’re not supposed to do that. But they didn’t say anything about driving and then drinking.”

Even though he knew he was posting a video of himself doing something illegal, he was still surprised when the police showed up at his house prepared to arrest him on charges of consuming alcohol while operating a vehicle.

Although Godbehere stated the video was meant as a parody and claimed there was no beer in the bottle, the Police Chief Darryl Perry stated “Our traffic laws are in place for a reason, and Mr. Godbehere’s blatant disregard for those laws is the type of behavior that won’t be tolerated.”

Severe consequences.

In Steubenville Ohio, social media played a part in the case against two football players who were found guilty of raping a drunk 16 year old girl.

The victim says she doesn’t remember much of what happened that night when Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, assaulted her at a friends party in 2012, and was only made aware of it after a video popped up on social media. A key piece of evidence was an instagram photo of the boys carrying the girl out of the house by her arms and legs.

Legal experts say photos and videos, whether posted publicly or obtained by police, have to meet certain criteria:

  • They must be authenticated, meaning the prosecutors have to prove the images are what they seem and have not been altered or staged;
  • And they can’t be shown out of context

Additional charges were later brought against two teenage girls after police were shown twitter posts threatening the victim physical harm if she didn’t drop the charges.

When the accused admits to posting the materials themselves, the incriminating posts put them in the awkward position of having to disavow their own words. The boys each served 2 years in prison.

If you or someone you love is in need of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, call Terry Sherman.