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A Brief Overview on Judicial Releases

In the state of Ohio, judges have the ability to grant early “judicial releases” from prison provided that certain conditions are met. The ability to release people from prison in such a way can be found in Ohio Revised Code section 2929.20 and became effective in July 1996. The following will take a brief look at how judicial releases work in the state of Ohio.

How Ohio’s Judicial Release Laws Work

One of the many complex factors of judicial releases in Ohio is determining when a person is eligible to file for a release. When a person is required to file a judicial release motion is influenced by the offense with which an individual is charged:

  • People convicted of fourth and fifth-degree felony offenses are able to petition for judicial release between the 30th to 90th day of arriving at prison rather than the date of sentencing.
  • People convicted of first to third-degree offenses can file a motion 180 days after entering prison.

Eligibility for Judicial Release

Anyone who receives a prison sentence of more than 10 years is not able to petition for judicial release. A person is also ineligible for judicial release if he or she has been convicted of any of the following offenses:

  • Bribery
  • Engaging in corrupt activity
  • Intimidation
  • Obstructing justice
  • Obstructing official business
  • Retaliation
  • Theft in office, or
  • Having an unlawful interest in a public contract

Additionally, public officials who commit certain felonies are not eligible for judicial release. Some of the offenses that prohibit a public official from obtaining a judicial release include:

  • Intimidation of a party in a criminal case
  • Perjury
  • Tampering with evidence, and
  • Tampering with records.

Eligible offenders also cannot be currently serving a mandatory prison sentence. In situations in which a person is serving a mandatory sentence, that person must serve the mandatory sentence before becoming eligible to file a motion for judicial release. When it comes to eligibility for judicial release, consecutive and concurrent sentences can impact a person’s eligibility.

Petitioning for Judicial Release

After a statutory period has passed, a person convicted of a felony offense can petition for judicial release through the filing of a written motion. A judge has the ability to deny a motion for a judicial release without a hearing within 60 days from the date that a person files this motion. In these situations, a judge will mark a person’s case as “with prejudice,” which means that a person will no longer be able to petition for judicial release.

Requirements for Judicial Release

Before a judicial release is granted, a judge must conduct a hearing and inform the involved parties. If a hearing will be granted, the hearing must be held within 60 days from the date that a person files the motion for judicial release. Judges in Ohio, however, have the ability to delay a hearing up to 180 days. If a judge conducts a hearing, a decision must be made within 10 days from the date that the hearing is held. Before granting a judicial release, a judge must also review an “Institutional Summary” of the offender.

A judge who reviews a motion for judicial release will review a person’s prison record. If any questions arise about the person’s prison record, the judge will likely ask about this. Many judges believe that a positive prison record suggests that a person will be able to successfully reform after release. For example, a person who obtained a certificate of course completion while in prison can use that accomplishment to demonstrate his or her positive attitude. Many people also benefit from including support letters when filing a motion for judicial release. During the review process, any victims of the criminal offense for which an individual is convicted will also be notified of the hearing. During the hearing, a person convicted of an offense will often be afforded the option to provide information that is relevant to the offense with which they have been convicted.

What to Expect After Filing a Judicial Release Motion

In Ohio, judges are faced with a number of different motions on a daily basis. To increase the chances of a successful judicial release, a motion for release should clearly outline the reasons for seeking judicial release as well as the factors that a judge will consider before ruling on a motion. If a court ultimately grants judicial release, a person will be placed under community control sanctions. In some situations, the length of time spent in prison might decrease these sanctions.

Contact a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Lawyer

Filing for judicial release is a complicated process, and one mistake can jeopardize your future. That is why you need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side, helping you navigate the legal system. Contact Kruger & Hodges today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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