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. 

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.

#SexualAssaultAccusation

#SexualAssaultAccusation

How does Ohio define sexual assault crime?

 

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual encounter without the consent of the person being pursued. Sexual assault can present itself in a number of different ways.

Statutory laws are used to prosecute offenses that are related to the victim being below the Ohio Age of Consent. Non-statutory rape laws are used to prosecute cases where force or coercion was used by the assailant.

Ohio has defined 5 crimes that are used to prosecute sexual assault in Ohio.

1. Gross Sexual Imposition § 2907.05: If the offender has or causes someone else to have sexual contact with someone whose ability to resist or consent is impaired due to a mental or physical condition for any reason. This includes advanced age, drug intoxication or by threat of force.

Punishment: 6-18 months in prison / If the victim is under age of consent: 1-5 years in prison

2. Rape § 2907.02: If the offender engages in sexual conduct with another through force or threat of force or when the victim’s ability to resist or consent is substantially impaired due to a mental or physical condition for any reason. This includes advanced age and drug intoxication.

Rape can take on several forms:

Date Rape – when a person is attacked by someone that they know
Stranger Rape – when a person is attacked by someone they don’t know.

Punishment: minimum 5 years in prison / If victim under 10, life in prison

3. Sexual Battery § 2907.03: If the offender has sexual conduct with another, when the victim is a minor, and the offender is more than two years older than the other person, or when the offender is in a place of power or authority (such as a coach, teacher, law enforcement etc) and uses such to persuade the victim to consent.

Punishment: 1-5 years in prison / If the victim is under the age of 13: 2-8 years in prison

4. Sexual Imposition § 2907.06: If the offender engages in “sexual touching” (i.e., the touching of another person’s erogenous area) when the offender knows the sexual touching is offensive to the accuser or is reckless in that regard; this includes if the victim is either underage (older than 13 but younger than 16), impaired due to a mental or physical condition of any kind including drug intoxication.

Punishment: Up to 60 days in prison for the first offense / up to 6 months for subsequent offenses

5. Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor § 2907.04: If the offender is 18 years of age or older engages in sexual conduct with someone who is 13 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age or the offender is reckless in that regard.

Punishment: 6 months – 8 years in prison depending on several factors including age gap and previous offenses / If the offender is less than 4 years older than the victim – up to 6 months in prison

 

Managing False Allegations

 

If you’ve been accused of sexual assault, the thought of the legal process that you’re soon to encounter can be terrifying. Your life can be significantly impacted in a variety of ways. By responding quickly and aggressively with a criminal defense attorney by your side, you can move through the legal process as quickly as possible:

-Do not provide law enforcement with any information without your attorney present
-Hire a criminal defense attorney with experience in this area
-Write down your account of what happened, provide as many details as possible
-Make a list of witnesses who can attest to the events at the time of the alleged assault

The consequences of a conviction for sexual assault are serious and could include: incarceration, difficulty obtaining employment in the future, becoming a registered sex offender, restrictions regarding where you can live, and much more.

If you’re falsely accused of sexual assault, call defense Attorney Terry Sherman for a free case evaluation. He has 45+ years experience and exceptional track record of success.   To learn more about Sex Crimes Defense, click here.

Ohio human trafficking probes up 50% over last year.

Ohio human trafficking probes up 50% over last year.

COLUMBUS — The number of investigations into suspected trafficking swelled last year to the highest level in Ohio’s history

Ohio’s state attorney general’s Human Trafficking Commission released a report on Monday that revealing police investigated 202 potential cases of human trafficking in 2017, up nearly 50 percent from the year before. The vast majority involved the sex trade.

But the number of arrests decreased to 70, the lowest since 2013 as reported a Toledo news agency The Blade.

“You may have investigations in one year, and then you may have a conviction in another year,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “I still believe that human trafficking convictions are being grossly underreported because, frankly, they’re not charging human trafficking. They’re charging something else.”

He said ultimately it doesn’t matter whether the suspect is prosecuted for the specific crime of “trafficking in persons.”

“The most important thing is the victim be saved and not have to exist under those circumstances,” Mr. DeWine said. “The second thing is the person is punished and segregated from society so that they won’t do this again.”

The Victims:

  • 208 people were identified as potential victims. They were most likely to be female, white, and between the ages of 21 and 29. Thirty-eight people were minors under the age of 18. Two were 13 or younger.

The Suspected Traffickers:

  • 221 suspected traffickers, all but 10 of them believed to be engaged in the sex trade. Ten were involved in forced labor. The traffickers were most likely to be male, black, and between the ages of 21 and 29. Four were minors themselves.

The Customers:

  • 257 people identified as customers of the trafficking were overwhelmingly male, white, and between the ages of 41 and 59. Most of them, 183, were suspected of buying sex while 74 were consumers of forced labor.

Mr. DeWine said Ohio’s opioid addiction crisis and human trafficking go hand in hand. “Drugs are used to control,” he said. “Because opioids are so addictive, it makes it easier for a pimp, makes it easier for a human-trafficker to control a victim. They control a victim’s income, money, but they also control the drugs. The drugs are the most powerful.”

Ohio has been at the forefront of research and law enforcement since a federal sting in 2005 in Harrisburg, Pa., put Toledo on the map with cities like Miami and Las Vegas as major recruiting hubs for the sex trade.  Statistically, 177 women and girls were caught up in that sting, 77 of the females were from the Toledo area.

Human Trafficking Education Coming to Ohio Classrooms

Human Trafficking Education Coming to Ohio Classrooms

Teachers representing 100+ middle and high schools in Miami Valley were trained in human trafficking last year as part of the new “School Trafficking Outreach Program”.

According to the director of Abolition Ohio and interim executive director of the human rights center at the University of Dayton, Tony Talbot, this was the first time training of this kind took place for one full year.

Through the program, educators are instructed on how to present sensitive information to students, and how to identify and deal with trauma triggers.

“We still have room to keep growing and growing,” Talbot said. “It’s intensive because you can’t just turn over the materials and give a classroom presentation because a kid might come forward and … if the school’s not prepared on how to respond, you’re going to cause more harm than good.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine listed trafficking education as focus area in his 2016 annual report. According to the report, 151 potential victims of human trafficking were identified and more than a third were 20 years old or younger.

Supporting the initiative, the School Trafficking Outreach Program received a nearly $15,000 grant from the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, another several thousand dollars from the University of Dayton, and $1,500 from the Free to Run Foundation, Talbot said.

“Human trafficking is a major issue that happens here [in Ohio],” Talbot said. “It happens in cities; it happens in suburbs; it happens in rural area and it affects our youth.”

In 2016 alone, Ohio law enforcement reported 135 human trafficking investigations yielding 79 arrests and 28 criminal convictions.