Cleveland Family Crime Attorneys
Defense for Charges Involving Offenses Against the Family
Crimes against the family are considered especially serious by prosecutors in the Cleveland area. While some, like domestic violence, may result from a violent altercation, others, like interference with custody, may not. Some charges may even be caused because of a simple misunderstanding-such as when you bump into someone or "pocket dial" someone who has a restraining order against you but had no intention of doing so.
Too often, prosecutors have an easy time because a defendant mistakenly believes they can clear things up just by telling their side of the story. However, it is important to know that if you're facing charges of an offense against the family, you need experienced help right away. Even misdemeanor charges can result in months of jail time, restraining orders, fines, and other penalties. At the felony level, conviction can result in prison time of at least six months and often many years. In addition, you'll have to deal with a felony conviction on your record when you're released, which means jobs, scholarships, and housing opportunities will be closed to you.
Examples of Offenses Against the Family
Some of Ohio's offenses against the family include:
- 2919.01: Bigamy
- 2919.12: Unlawful abortion
- 2919.13: Abortion manslaughter
- 2919.14: Abortion trafficking
- 2919.151: Partial birth feticide
- 2919.17: Terminating/attempting to terminate human pregnancy after viability
- 2919.22: Endangering children
- 2919.222: Parental education neglect
- 2919.224: Misrepresentation relating to provision of child care
- 2919.23: Interference with custody
- 2919.231: Interfering with action to issue or modify support order
- 2919.24: Contributing to unruliness or delinquency of a child
- 2919.26: Motion for and hearing on protection order
- 2919.27: Violating protection order
Abortion Manslaughter (O.R.C. 2919.13)
Abortion is as contentious an issue in Ohio as it is anywhere else in the U.S., and doctors who provide abortions in the Cleveland area face a variety of risks because of their work. Not only are doctors and staff frequently targeted for harassment by activists, but a variety of criminal statutes exist that can be used against medical professionals. Under abortion manslaughter, a person performing abortions can be charged with a first degree felony if they purposely kill a fetus that was removed from a woman's uterus still alive or if they fail to take proper procedures to preserve the life in those cases. If convicted, the prison sentence can be as high as 11 years. Doctors who provide abortion services for women in Cleveland deserve the full protection of the law and a vigorous defense when prosecutors charge them with crimes related to their practice.
Abortion Trafficking (O.R.C. 2919.14)
Abortion is a tightly regulated procedure-and abortion providers have to abide by an increasingly onerous regulatory regime. Medical researchers also live with the consequences of abortion regulations in the state. There are criminal penalties for many violations, including in how material derived from abortions is disposed of. Abortion trafficking is charged when there is evidence that fetal tissue was sold or experimented on. Abortion trafficking is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.
Bigamy (O.R.C. 2919.01)
Being married to more than one person at a time is a crime in Ohio-and prosecutors can and do charge people with bigamy. Sometimes, the charges are based on a mistake-such as believing that you were divorced when you remarried. Still, being convicted of bigamy can have serious negative ramifications outside of the criminal scope, including voiding a marriage you thought was valid. If you're convicted of this first degree misdemeanor charge, you'll face up to six months in jail. Bigamy and other plural marriage arrangements have a long history in many religions and cultures, but are illegal in all 50 states. It doesn't matter where your marriages were performed. If you are a resident of Cleveland, then prosecutors have jurisdiction to charge you.
Facing Endangering Children (O.R.C. 2919.22) Charges
Parents have a duty to take appropriate actions to protect and support their children; failure to live up to that standard can have serious consequences. When parents neglect their children, physically abuse them, or engage in conduct like drunk driving with a young child in the car, they can be charged with endangering children. The grade of the charge has to do with your specific conduct and the consequences of that action.
For instance, DUI with a minor in the car will be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, unless the child was injured. Depending on the severity of the injuries to the child, Endangering Children in that case will be charged as a fifth or fourth degree felony. You could face 180 days, 12 months, or 18 months in prison for drunk driving with a child in the car, and your exposure to jail time has everything to do with the results of the conduct. In cases of child abuse, torture, or extreme disciplinary actions that result in harm to the child, you can face charges as serious as a second degree felony, and up to 8 years in prison. It’s extremely important that you act cautiously in your interactions with police and prosecutors, and that you retain counsel right away.
Contributing to Unruliness or Delinquency of a Child (O.R.C. 2919.24)
Charges that a parent has contributed to a child's unwillingness to submit to authority, to attend school as required by law, or that a parent has otherwise encouraged conduct in a child that could harm their morals or health, can be devastating to an entire family. Prosecutors can charge contributing to unruliness or delinquency of a child against people who aren't parents as well; however, most often, the allegations are that a parent or guardian is encouraging behavior that puts a child's welfare at risk.
The charge is a first degree misdemeanor, but importantly, each day of violation can be charged separately. For instance, if your child refuses to attend school on separate occasions and you are aware of the behavior and not taking reasonable actions to rectify the situation, you can be charged for each of those occasions. Each count can lead to a six month jail sentence. These are extremely serious charges that you have to protect yourself and your family from.
Endangering Children (O.R.C. 2919.22)
Parents have a duty to take appropriate actions to protect and support their children. Failure to live up to that standard can have serious consequences. When parents neglect their children, physically abuse them, or engage in conduct like drunk driving with a young child in the car, they can be charged with endangering children by Cleveland prosecutors. The grade of the charge has to do with your specific conduct and the consequences of it.
For instance, driving drunk with a minor child in the car will be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, unless the child was injured. Depending on the severity of the injuries to the child, endangering children in that case will be charged as a fifth or fourth degree felony. You could face 180 days, 12 months, or 18 months in prison for drunk driving with a child in the car, and your exposure to jail time has everything to do with the results of the conduct. In cases of child abuse, torture, or extreme disciplinary actions that result in harm to the child, you can face charges as serious as a second degree felony, and up to 8 years in prison.
Interfering with Action to Issue / Modify Support (O.R.C. 2919.231)
When legal action is pending between actual or alleged parents, it is against the law to use threats, harassment, or violence to try to stop the other party from pursuing or modifying an existing order. The law is strongly interested in ensuring that all members of the community have access to the courts to resolve their disputes. People who engage in conduct designed to impede that access may be in violation of the law. As a base charge, this is a first degree misdemeanor and you could spend up to six months in jail. If you've been convicted under the statute in the past, you'll be charged at the fifth degree felony level and face up to a year behind bars.
Interference with Custody (O.R.C. 2919.23)
While interference with custody charges are usually applied when a non-custodial parent refuses to abide by a court order and fails to return their child to the custodial parent, there are other circumstances. For instance, removing a child from juvenile detention or a mental health facility is also an interference with custody, as is aiding or enticing a child to leave their custodial residence. Penalties vary based on the specifics of the case.
For removing a child from an institution they're ordered by law to be in, you'll face a third degree misdemeanor charge and up to 60 days if convicted. Keeping a child away from his or her custodial parent is a first degree misdemeanor, with a six month sentence possible if convicted. If the child is taken out of state, the charge is a felony of the fifth degree, with a maximum sentence of six to 12 months. If the child is injured as a result of the violation, the charge is a fourth degree felony, and you could go to jail for as long as 18 months if convicted.
Misrepresentation Relating to Provision of Child Care (O.R.C. 2919.224)
Daycares and other child care facilities operate under a strict regulatory regime intended to protect children, ease the minds of parents, and ensure high standards of safety and security. When a child care provider misrepresents facts about their facility, staff, or other elements of their operation to a parent, guardian, police officer, inspector, or investigator, they can be charged with misrepresentation relating to provision of child care. This is a first degree misdemeanor charge that can result in six months in jail. Because these cases so often hinge on a he-said, she-said type of allegation, it's vital that you work with experienced criminal defense attorneys who know how to rebut the charges against you and challenge the testimony from the other side.
Motion for & Hearing on Protection Order (O.R.C. 2919.26)
In cases where the victim of certain crimes is a family member or member of a defendant's household, the victim may ask for a temporary protection order to be issued by the court as a condition of your release from jail. This order can have a significant impact on your life, limiting your access to your home, work, school, and job. The rules governing how protection orders are issued are covered in the statute. While judges tend to err on the side of protecting alleged victims, it's important that you get experienced legal help right away when facing a temporary protection order. Aside from the charges you're facing, you'll also have to contend with hearings related to the protection order and dealing with possible allegations of violations, even if inadvertent.
Parental Education Neglect (O.R.C. 2919.222)
Parents of children who are suspended or expelled from school, or who are excessively absent or truant, may be subject to mandatory parental education classes by the local school board. Failure to attend these classes can result in criminal charges against the parent. Parental education neglect is charged by Cleveland prosecutors when the parent of a suspended or expelled student fails to meet the requirements set forth by the local school district. Parental education neglect is a fourth degree misdemeanor and conviction can result in up to 30 days in jail. Parents work incredibly hard to provide for their children-and many parents are forced to work multiple jobs with little or no support. Maintaining a stable roof over the family's head and putting food on the table shouldn't make you subject to harassment from Cleveland prosecutors!
Partial Birth Feticide (O.R.C. 2919.151)
Doctors who perform abortions, even ER physicians who have to make life-saving decisions, are at risk when abortion procedures are required. Ohio has criminalized many medical procedures related to abortion, such as "partial birth abortion." Under Ohio law, dilation and evacuation is termed partial birth feticide and is a second degree felony. Conviction can result in a sentence of up to eight years in prison. Doctors deserve better than to be harassed by prosecutors for making hard decisions in their patients' best interests.
Protection Order Issued by Court of Another State (O.R.C. 2919.272)
If you are subject to a protection order issued by a court in a state outside of Ohio, that order can be registered with the courts in this state and local law enforcement and prosecutors can hold you accountable to its terms. Protection order issued by court of another state provides the framework by which an out-of-state protection order can be registered here and stipulates that any costs associated with the filing can be assessed to you. People who've been involved in criminal cases in another state may believe that moving away will give them a chance to start fresh, but when protection orders are in the mix, you may find your trouble has followed you.
Terminating Human Pregnancy After Viability (O.R.C. 2919.17)
Ohio law defines viability of a fetus as 24 weeks gestational age, although there are other medical factors to consider. Performing or inducing an abortion on a pregnant woman when the fetus is viable is a serious crime and can be prosecuted. The charge is a fourth degree felony that carries an 18 month maximum sentence; the statute orders the state medical board to revoke the license of any physician convicted under the statute.
Unlawful Abortion (O.R.C. 2919.12)
Ohio's unlawful abortion statute makes it a crime to perform or induce an abortion without a woman's informed consent. Violation is a first degree misdemeanor, with a maximum six month sentence if convicted. If convicted under this section a subsequent time, the charge will be a fourth degree felony with an 18 month sentence possible if convicted. This statute also specifies the rules for parental notification of underage, unmarried, unemancipated pregnant women. Violation of parental notification rules is a first degree misdemeanor as a first offense, with a six month sentence if convicted, or a fifth degree felony on subsequent offenses. Conviction at the fifth degree felony level can result in a 6-12 month jail sentence.
Unlawful Abortion Upon Minor (O.R.C. 2919.121)
The statute for unlawful abortion upon minor specifies the circumstances under which a healthcare provider can perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant minor. Legal circumstances include appropriate parental notification, proof that the minor is emancipated and has provided written consent, and where a court order is in place authorizing the minor to consent to the procedure. Violation of these terms is a first degree misdemeanor; you can face up to six months in jail if convicted. If you've been convicted under O.R.C. 2919.121 in the past, you'll face a fourth degree felony charge and can spend up to 18 months in prison if convicted.
Violating Protection Order (O.R.C. 2919.27)
Protection orders are issued when certain types of crimes are perpetrated against a family member or member of the household. Protection orders can govern the defendant's conduct to a great degree-prohibiting contact with the victim and even removing the person from their home. A protection order is only as good as its enforcement, and under violating protection order, Cleveland prosecutors can cause you significant problems if you don't strictly adhere to the rules in the order. As a base charge, recklessly violating a protection order is a first degree misdemeanor, with a 6 month conviction and $1,000 fine possible if you're convicted.
If you've previously been convicted of violating a protection order, the charge becomes a felony of the fifth degree, and you'll face between six and twelve months in custody if convicted. If the violation occurs in the commission of a felony, you'll be charged with a third degree felony, and on that count, you can be sentenced to as long as five years in prison. When you're charged with violating a protection order, get help right away.
Evaluation of Mental Condition of Defendant (O.R.C. 2919.271)
In certain cases, defendants in criminal matters can be ordered to undergo an evaluation of their mental state by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker in order to establish a clearer understanding of the thought processes that led to situations like violation of a protection order, stalking behaviors, and related conduct.
The defendant will pay for the examination as part of the court costs applied to the criminal case. Under the statute for the evaluation of mental condition of defendant, the mental health professional tasked with the evaluation can even request info from family members and others in your household if they feel they need it, though those people are not obligated to provide anything. In complex criminal cases where mental state is considered a factor, it's important that you work with the most experienced defense lawyers you can find.
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Patituce & Associates is home to some of Cleveland's most experienced criminal defense attorneys. We are former prosecutors from right here in Ohio, so we have extensive knowledge of how criminal cases are built and prosecuted. We've seen it all from the other side, and the level of support and insight we can provide our clients when it comes to pushing back against the charges they're facing is simply unavailable at other firms in the area.
The intimate nature of many family offenses charges means that your attorneys have to be able to protect your reputation as well as your freedom. In a high-profile case or a case that's gained notoriety in the community, you don't have to be convicted to face serious repercussions from the allegations against you.
Experienced defense attorneys such as the ones at Patituce & Associates know how to manage every aspect of your case, from protecting your privacy and reputation to fighting the charges against you every step of the way.
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