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 holiday season! You can probably guess that this time of year sees a dramatic increase in DUI arrests. Over the holidays, drinking and driving has 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 arrignment. 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. 

I violated probation. What happens now?

I violated probation. What happens now?

If you’ve found yourself facing a possible conviction as a result of a probation violation, we recommend seeking the counsel of a probation violation attorney. Regardless of why you are serving probation, you don’t deserve punishment due to a minor infraction as a result of an oversight or accident. Your attorney’s number one priority should be convincing the judge to not inflict a severe repercussion for a simple fault in judgment.

How does the probation violation process work?

The probation violation process is different than the normal criminal case and generally follows the following process:

  • Probation officer informs the court that the probationer has violated one or more probation requirements 
  • The court will schedule a probation hearing or authorize an arrest warrant
  • If arrested, there will be an arrest hearing and a bond may be set
  • You are entitled to a Statement of Violations in which you are informed of what terms of probation you are alleged to have violated
  • You are entitled to a probable cause hearing to determine if there is a reasonable basis for the violation
  • You are entitled to an evidentiary hearing in which the State must prove that a violation occurred.

Let’s talk about the possible consequences for violating probation.

  • Ordered to perform service hours for community service
  • Extending your probation
  • More strict probationary terms such as earlier curfew 
  • Seeking substance testing or treatment
  • Attending classes or programs based on the offense (such as drug treatment programs or anger management)
  • Counseling with a therapist on a regular basis
  • Serving a prison sentence

The judge who assigned the initial probation ruling will be the judge determining the appropriate punishment for the violation. The judge may feel as though they did you a favor when worse consequences could have been dealt, which can result in hostile or resentful feelings. Because of this, the judge could decide a harsher punishment than is necessary. Therefore, it’s important to your case to have a probation violation lawyer to speak on your behalf. 

Having an attorney defend you can make the difference between fulfilling a minor repercussion or serving jail time. Call Terry Sherman today for a free case review.

What to Do When You’ve Been Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

What to Do When You’ve Been Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is viewed by society and the courts as a serious charge against a criminal defendant. Regardless of whether you’re guilty or innocent, mere allegations of domestic violence against you can adversely affect your life and your future.

While millions of people are abused by their spouse or partner every year, (approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men) unfortunately, some people are quick to fabricate stories in order to “get back at” the alleged offender. These allegations are not only hurtful but undermine those that are true victims of domestic violence. If you’ve been accused or charged with a domestic violence offense, it’s extremely important that you contact an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer right away to protect yourself. It is not an admission of guilt.

What is Domestic Violence?

Many people believe that domestic violence is limited to a physical action against a spouse, family member or significant other.

Under Ohio law, victims of domestic violence are protected by both civil and criminal laws. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. Domestic violence charges may also extend to:

  • Stalking
  • Mental/psychological abuse
  • Destruction of personal property
  • Cyberbullying
  • Throwing things toward the victim (even if they don’t actually hit the victim)
  • Sexual abuse

Whether domestic violence charges are charged as misdemeanors or felonies depends on the allegations, the age of the individuals, and whether there were weapons involved, and the associated punishments will range accordingly.

Understanding Domestic Violence Charges

Though unfair, people may accuse individuals of domestic violence for a number of reasons. Disputes can arise during a divorce, custody hearings regarding children, or just due to day-to-day stress of living under the same roof. If the alleged victim is seeking marital assets in a divorce or seeking custody of children, they might believe that domestic violence allegations will help their cause.

Many domestic violence victims, unfortunately, later recant their testimony or state that they no longer want to press charges. However, by this time, it’s usually too late. The decision to go forward with domestic violence charges is completely up to the prosecutor on the case.

Experienced Domestic Violence Defense

Being wrongfully accused of something as serious as domestic violence can be scary and has the potential to dramatically impact your life.

Attorney Terry Sherman is an experienced criminal defense attorney that has helped many clients dismiss or lessen domestic violence charges against them. He knows how to navigate your criminal allegations from start to finish and will help you arrive at the best possible result.

5 Common Juvenile Crimes Committed During Summer Break

5 Common Juvenile Crimes Committed During Summer Break

Summer break. It’s a time for barbeques, pool parties and…getting arrested? For some juveniles, the answer might be yes. Studies show that kids have a tendency to get into more trouble with the law during the months when they are not in school.

While overall juvenile arrest rates may be down, the number of teenagers who face criminal charges each summer remains high. The short and long term effects of a guilty conviction are harsh and can include:

  • Impacting their ability to get a job or to get a Commercial Drivers License
  • Impacting their ability to get public housing
  • Impacting their ability to enlist in the military
  • Depending on the severity of the crime, they may be prevented from carrying a firearm
  • Drivers License Suspension
  • Possible impact on return to school or transferring to a new school
  • Having to pay fines, court costs, and restitution where assigned
  • May affect immigration status

The following are 5 of the most common charges against juvenile offenders:

1. Operating a Motor Vehicle while Under the Influence (DUI / OVI)

While Ohio’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for adults age 21 years and older is 0.08 percent, minors are subject to a law known as “zero tolerance.” What this means that a juvenile driver can be arrested and charged for DUI / OVI if they are caught driving with any amount of alcohol, marijuana, or drugs in his or her blood. Teenagers who are arrested for drunk driving may also face related charges, such as underage possession, and use of a fake ID.

2. Possession of Marijuana and Other Drug Offenses

A significant portion of juvenile arrests involve marijuana and other drug-related offenses. Although juveniles caught with small amounts of marijuana are typically only hit with a fine, any juvenile conviction for a drug-related offense can potentially have implications for school enrollment, employment eligibility, and driving privileges.

3. Sexual Assault

Sexual assault crimes are prosecuted in Ohio at both the adult and juvenile levels. Prosecutors can seek to charge younger juveniles as adults depending on age and severity of the crime. Any teenager facing sexual assault charges, regardless of the severity, should seek legal representation immediately.

4. Criminal Traffic Offenses

Most traffic violations are misdemeanors; distracted driving, disregarding a traffic control device, speed exhibition, and speeding. Others may accompany criminal charges; DUI / OVI, causing bodily harm by the operation of a motor vehicle, evading an officer, and failure to stop at the scene of an accident.

5. Theft (Shoplifting)

Theft is another common juvenile offense. In Ohio, the penalties for theft are determined by the value of the property stolen, with the felony offenses carrying the potential for significant fines and even imprisonment.

If you or your teenager has been arrested, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential consultation. We have extensive experience in Ohio criminal matters, and we can help protect you or your child.

5 Things not to do when facing assault charges

5 Things not to do when facing assault charges

You didn’t intend to get involved in a fight when you went out for a night with your friends, but one thing led to another and you ended up getting pulled into a violent altercation and the police got involved. Now, you’re facing assault charges and you’re not sure what to do. Making the wrong choices could be detrimental to your case.

Here’s a list of common mistakes made when facing assault charges.

Talking to Police. Police are trained to manipulate you to get what they want, this includes evidence against you. For example, let’s say that you’ve been involved in a violent bar fight and the police are called. They might take you aside, hand you an ice pack for your swollen knuckles, tell you the other guy is clearly at fault and ask you for your side of the story. Naturally, you’ll want to explain yourself and tell your side, so you do. At that point, the police arrest you and charge you with assault. Unfair but legal, and also avoidable. The truth is, you don’t have to talk to the police. You’ve heard of your right to remain silent. That’s not just for after you’re arrested. You don’t have to speak to the police ever. Exercise your right to remain silent and stay silent until you talk with an attorney.

Talking with Others About the Assault. Being involved in an assault can be traumatic. It’s natural to want to talk about what happened with other people, to explain your side of the story or ask for advice. Just like talking to the police can hurt you, anything you say to other people can be used against you in court. This even includes those closest to you, like siblings and parents. It’s best to not discuss the incident with anyone except your lawyer.

Posting About the Incident on Social Media. Any time you’re involved in an incident that might result in you appearing in court, do not post about it on any social media forum, including Facebook, Twitter, or SnapChat. Prosecutors absolutely love to blow up huge images and Tweets for the benefit of the jury and use your words against you. So post anything, not even a fist emoji. It can be taken out of context and turned around to hurt you.

Contacting The Victim of the Assault. You may want to apologize, or clear the air, especially if the victim was a friend. Regardless of the reason, don’t do it. This is because anything you say to the victim may be used against you in court. Even if you had the best intentions.

Destroying Evidence. Maybe you’re reading this after you’ve already posted a video of the incident. Don’t delete the post and don’t delete the video from your electronic devices. This considered destroying evidence and can actually land you in more trouble.

Just like there are there are lots of things you can do that will hurt your case, there are also things you can do to improve your situation. With the help of an expert criminal defense attorney, you can give yourself the best chances of putting this behind you. Call Terry Sherman today to schedule a free legal consultation!

Arrested for legal medical pot? Here’s what you need to know about “affirmative defense”.

Arrested for legal medical pot? Here’s what you need to know about “affirmative defense”.

After months of waiting and several launch date push backs, Ohio’s online portal for medical marijuana registration finally went live. While doctors who have been certified by the State Medical Board to recommend marijuana can access the website, that doesn’t mean marijuana products are legally available for purchase yet.

State officials said medicinal cannabis products should be available for patient purchase by the end of January.

After receiving a recommendation from their doctor, patients will be able to access the registry for an annual fee of $50 ($25 for caregivers), and either print out a registration card or save it on their cell phone to show to licensed dispensaries.

Building an “Affirmative Defense”.

Although it’s been inconsistently applied, the law generally allows someone arrested for possession of or use of medical marijuana to argue before a judge they otherwise qualify under Ohio’s law.

If the patient displays a physician’s recommendation and is using cannabis in a form allowed under the law, it will then be up to the judge whether to accept the argument and look the other way.

This is called the “affirmative defense”, which is part of the 2016 law that legalized marijuana for medical use only. The law’s author intended it as possible protection for those in need of medical marijuana before the product was available in Ohio, and would potentially allow them to get it from another state, such as Michigan. However, there have been cases of people being charged for possession despite the defense.

“The affirmative defense has always been there,” said board spokesman Grant Miller. “We didn’t want a situation where we were registering people and 60 days later when the affirmative defense expires there still were no dispensaries open with the product.”

“We have literally thousands of patients who are ready to be enrolled,” said Connor Shore, president of Ohio Marijuana Card. “These are people who need marijuana, not to get high, but because it is medicine for them. We have cancer patients, veterans and pain patients who are really suffering, so this day is very exciting for them.”

A handful of licensed growers are prepping and have a limited amount of product expected to be available soon, however, it remains to be seen when a reliable supply will be produced to allow retail dispensaries to open their doors.

Know what’s legal.

According to House Bill 523, the 2016 law legalizing medical marijuana only allows for use in oils, tinctures, patches, edibles, and plant matter. The law strictly prohibits smoking, but it does allow vaping.

Keep in mind that all of those products will need to be purchased at a licensed dispensary. The law forbids the home-growing of marijuana.

Prior to the portals launch, no legal registration card had been available in Ohio, although some doctors were issuing recommendations before they were officially certified to do so.

Need to know more?

The board’s hotline for answering questions about the registry is 1-833-464-6627.

If you’ve been charged with marijuana possession and you believe you qualify for an affirmative defense, you need an experienced attorney by your side. Contact Terry Sherman 614-444-8800

Fentanyl is a growing epidemic: Cops are cracking down

Fentanyl is a growing epidemic: Cops are cracking down

Fentanyl:  “Just 2 milligrams — an equivalent to about 32 grains of salt — can be enough to kill a person”, said Jessica Toms, a laboratory supervisor at the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Investigation (BCI). Fentanyl is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The total number of fatal drug overdoses in Ohio, increased to a record 4,854 last year. That’s an astounding 20% increase from the previous year. According to the Ohio Department of Health, this was the 8th year in a row to show an increase with the synthetic opioid fentanyl fueling the epidemic.

A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, says while a review of the data confirms fentanyl is absolutely driving overdose deaths, Ohio also is seeing significant progress in reducing the number of prescription opioids available for abuse.

A frightening state report on drug trends stated that drug cartels have flooded Ohio with fentanyl. In fact, many users don’t even realize they’ve taken fentanyl because it’s being cut into heroin, cocaine and even being pressed into prescription opioids.

According to the chief executive officer of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers, Lori Criss, “Drug dealers are flooding communities with different drugs to see what takes. They are very smart business people.”  

Gov. John Kasich’s administration is spending more than $1 billion a year to fight the drug epidemic, most of it to provide addiction treatment through Medicaid expansion. Ohio is also investing in providing the opioid-overdose antidote, naloxone, to first responders supporting efforts including drug courts, housing for addicts in recovery as well as educational programs.

Naturally, along with the fight against the drug epidemic, comes an increase in drug-related arrests, such as drug possession and DWI arrests. This only adds to Ohio’s increasingly overpopulated prisons.

Defense attorney Terry Sherman can fight for your freedom. Call 614.444.8800 to discuss your charges. Your phone call is free.