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House Bill 251


"O.R.C. 2929.13: Sanction imposed by degree of felony" states that certain felonies come with specific punishments. However, as the law reads now, some lower level felonies come with a mandate for community control rather than incarceration—specifically 4th and 5th degree felonies. The court is essentially required to send you to community control, and not to prison if you fit into certain categories.

A new bill was introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives in August of 2013. It was then reported to the House Judiciary in March of 2014. As of yet, there has not been a vote on this bill. The bill would seek to change or amend the requirement that 4th and 5th degree felonies not receive special treatment of community control. Simply stated, if this bill passes, those offenders who are convicted of 4th and 5th degree felonies that are neither violent, nor a qualifying assault offense, would be given the possibility of community control, at the discretion of the court, rather than a mandated community control.

What are the main changes?

Current law does not automatically state that if an offender is convicted of a F4 or F5 (4th or 5th degree felonies), then he or she will get community control rather than prison time. However, current law keeps the mandate for community control on the table for the case where the F4 or F5 is neither violent, nor in a certain category of assault. House Bill 251, if passed, would essentially take the mandate of community control off the table—only a possibility of community control for these crimes would exist, period.

The new bill would seek to erase the community control mandate. HB 252 would seek to have the court base its determination of whether to impose a prison term from three factors:

  1. The seriousness of the conduct,
  2. The likelihood of the offender's recidivism, and
  3. The offender's service in the Armed Forces).

There is some very similar wording to this in the current statute, however HB 251 would have all F4 and F5 crimes be evaluated against the list above, rather than from current law.

How would this affect me?

The obvious effect of the bill would be no mandated community control for non-violent, and non-qualifying assault offenses—only the possibility of community control would result. However, we need to ask ourselves, is this new bill a good law or a bad one?

Depending on your perspective, this could be a very good law, or a very bad law. Some would say this is a good law because we, as a society, want harder punishments for our crimes—especially felonies. To these people—harder punishments = less crimes. On the other hand, others would say this is a bad law because we, as a society, do not want to give less rehabilitation possibilities to our criminals. To these people—more rehabilitation = less crimes. Which side do you agree with?

If you have been charged with a F4, F5, or any felony at all, please contact your local criminal defense attorney at The Meranda Law Firm, LTD., where we will work in the most amicable way to resolve your case.