Proven Trial Success From Our Cincinnati Violent Crime Attorneys

If you have been arrested and charged with a violent crime in the Cincinnati area, there’s a lot on the line. Being convicted could harm your reputation and your ability to find employment. In the most serious of cases, your freedom and future may also be in question. When the stakes are high, make sure your violent crimes attorney is up to the task.

At The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams, LLC, our team provides hard-hitting representation backed by decades of combined legal experience. We have the skills and resources to help individuals facing a wide range of violent crime allegations. Our defense lawyers understand how to protect your future in the aftermath of an arrest. We have a proven track record of trial success and we’re capable of providing aggressive, knowledgeable, and experienced representation.

The sooner you speak with us, the better and more effective our representation is likely to be—so get in touch with a violent crime attorney from our team at The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams, LLC as soon as possible!

Cases We Handle

We handle a broad range of cases involving violent crime charges or allegations. Some types of offenses classified as violent crimes in the state of Ohio include but are not limited to:

Homicide: Murder and Manslaughter

Main affirmative defense: Self-Defense

Our society is obsessed with murder. Whether you tune into cable news, scroll through Twitter, or even strike up a conversation at the office, someone is bound to mention the latest killing that ripped through the headlines. But what people don’t realize is that when someone is accused of murder, guilty or not, they have been effectively judged guilty and had a shadow cast over their entire life. Think about celebrity murder suspects, like O.J. Simpson. Even when he was judged not guilty, his entire career was ruined by the speculation and media sensationalism that surrounded his case.  

Ohio separates the killing of another human being into various categories. There is “murder” and then “manslaughter.” Under ORC § 2903.02, murder occurs when someone “purposefully” causes the death of another person, meaning they intended to kill someone. That intent alone is what makes a killing a murder. To determine this intent, Ohio law looks at the surrounding circumstances of the killing, such as the weapon used or the manner in which the killing took place, to figure out if the defendant intended to kill the victim. For example, if a man shoots someone directly in the face, you could figure out he had the intent to kill because of how he did it and what weapon he used.
Murder can become “aggravated murder” if it is bad enough, according to ORC § 2903.01. Here’s a general rule of thumb—any “aggravated” offense is seen as much, much worse than the normal offense and will carry harsher penalties. If the murder was (1) committed with prior calculation or design, (2) committed during a certain felony, (3) of a child thirteen years old or younger, (4) purposeful while in detention or breaking out of detention or (5) killing law enforcement personnel under certain circumstances. The difference between aggravated murder and regular murder is in the penalty. Aggravated murder can net you life in prison or death, making it the only capital offense in Ohio. 
What is “prior calculation or design?” Basically, it means that you thought about it for long enough to form a plan. Have you ever heard the phrase “premeditated” thrown around in movies or television about a homicide? Well, prior calculation or design is “premeditation” on steroids. The courts will look for some kind of plan and care taken to execute that plan. But don’t be misled by the time factor, premeditation can occur in a mere moment’s reflection, there is no bright line rule or amount of time that courts require. 
For example, in State v. Robbins, the Ohio Supreme Court found that a man who punched his neighbor after an argument, retreated to his apartment where he found a knife, and used it to stab and kill his neighbor who was huddled on the floor was done with “prior calculation and design.” The Court found that because of the defendant’s extreme aggression against a helpless victim combined with the fact that the defendant went back to his apartment to get a weapon, the defendant had enough time and contemplation to turn the murder into aggravated murder. 
However, time is not necessarily an element of “prior calculation and design.” In State v. Rafter, a man acted with prior calculation and design when he entered the highway in the wrong direction and drove head-on into a truck. The court found it was reasonable to conclude that, given his high rate of speed, the defendant knew a collision would cause the death of the driver of the other vehicle. This was especially reasonable given that Rafter was attempting to cause his own death. 
In State v. Schaaf , a father hit his son several times with a wooden dowel rendering him unconscious. Then, not wanting the son to suffer, Schaaf swung a hatchet several times to finish him off. The mere moment of time that Schaaf took to decide to grab and swing a hatchet was enough to satisfy the “prior calculation and design” element. 
The four other types of aggravated murder are simpler to understand. If you cause the death of a child under thirteen or cause another’s death while escaping from detention (prison, jail, hospitalization, deportion, etc.), then you could be charged with aggravated murder. If you cause a death while you are in the middle of a robbery, arson, rape, burglary, terrorist activities, kidnapping, or any aggravated one of the preceding offenses or an attempt to commit them, aggravated murder is an option. Finally, causing a cop’s death is aggravated murder if the cop was a cop at the time or you had the intent to kill a cop. 
As I mentioned, aggravated murder gives you a worse penalty than murder. Murder is not a capital crime, but can land you anywhere from fifteen years to life imprisonment. If you cause the death of someone younger than thirteen years old and get convicted with a sexual motivation specification (which we will cover when we talk about sentencing), you can get a worse sentence.
Next is voluntary manslaughter under ORC § 2903.03—knowingly causing another’s death under the influence of passion brought about by serious provocation before there was time for the passion to cool. In English, it means you witness the victim do something so bad that it provoked you to the point of killing that victim while you’re provoked. Ohio law gets that sometimes, victims do something that causes the killer to just “snap.” Thus, manslaughter is a lesser offense than murder. 
You have to “know” that what you are doing will kill someone, but the thing that makes you angry enough to kill has to be the kind of thing that would enrage a reasonable person. And this can’t be the average argument you get in with some Pirates fan at your local bar—words alone are not adequate provocation. The most common example is witnessing your lover in bed with another person and then killing them both before you have a chance to think it through. That’s the type of thing that is so overwhelmingly infuriating that it makes sense for someone to snap and kill your cheating spouse before you have time to reflect. Also, you’ve got to act before you have time to think it through because what distinguishes murder from manslaughter is the time it takes for someone to go through with the killing. Finally, the victim needs to be the one who provoked you. Just because you felt like taking your anger out on a helpless pedestrian after you find your lover in bed with someone else doesn’t convert a murder into a manslaughter. 
Next, under ORC § 2903.04, there is involuntary manslaughter. This requires someone to cause the death of another while attempting or committing a felony or a certain type of misdemeanor, which is a lesser type of offense. Now, causation in Ohio criminal law gets surprisingly esoteric or technical. You’ll see a lot of stuff about “proximate causation.” A felony proximately causes a death if it is in the same transaction or continuous sequence of events as the underlying crime. So, for example, if someone breaks into an old woman’s house and scares the woman so badly that she dies of fright, the trespasser is the proximate cause of her death. What’s the difference between this and aggravated murder? Well, remember that in aggravated murder you still needed to have the intent to kill someone. Here, you don’t need intent but merely the proximate cause and the underlying offense. Notably, the misdemeanor can’t be a municipal ordinance or minor motor vehicle misdemeanor. 
Also, let’s discuss reckless homicide and negligent homicide under ORC § 2903.041 and .05. A reckless homicide is just causing someone’s death recklessly, meaning that you knew that what you were doing could cause their death but you did it anyway. Negligent homicide is causing someone’s death negligently, which is that the accused you caused the death with your unreasonable behavior that a reasonable person would not engage in. Waving a loaded weapon around with your finger on the trigger will result in reckless homicide when the weapon unintentionally fires and kills another person. A hunter who fails to be certain of his target may be guilty of negligent homicide. As may a person who leaves a loaded weapon where a child finds it and the result is someone’s death. 

And there are vehicular variants of all the offenses I listed, including vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular homicide, and vehicular manslaughter. These forms of homicide are under ORC § 2903.06. First, these all require you to cause a death while “operating” or “participating” in the vehicle’s operation. “Operating” would be something like driving or moving, in the case of a car or a boat. “Participating” can’t be a passive or remote action but it doesn’t require much physical participation. In State v. Hann, the Court of Appeals found that a man who jumped into a getaway car that his friend drove to escape after they failed to cash a forged check, where they then crashed into and killed another driver, “participated” in the vehicular homicide.  The court found this because of the man’s interest in escaping, the fact that he tore up the check and threw it out the window while being chased by the police, and his plan to flee. So, actually getting into a car can be enough to charge you with vehicular homicide, given the right set of facts.
But aggravated vehicular homicide requires a “reckless” state of mind. You have to know the risk of killing someone and proceed. This can include a lot of conduct, from driving drunk, driving at someone to scare or startle them, or even driving a car that is such a piece of junk that you know it is a danger to everyone around. However, just driving fast isn’t necessarily “reckless.” For vehicular homicide, you just need to be “negligent,” or cause someone’s death because you did something a reasonable person wouldn’t do, or you have to cause a death in a construction zone if there’s a victim there at the time of the killing and there are signs warning you not to speed. Finally, vehicular manslaughter is a death that you are the proximate cause of because you violated a minor misdemeanor or ordinance law, such as speeding. 

Arrested or charged for murder or manslaughter in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area?

If you or someone you know was recently arrested or charged for murder or manslaughter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Alex and Tad today at 513-929-9333, or request a free consultation or guide below.

Kidnapping, Abduction, Unlawful Restraint, Child Enticement and Human Trafficking

Main affirmative defense: Release victim to safe place unharmed

As I’m sure you can imagine, Ohio law treats kidnapping extraordinarily seriously. Technically, there are a number of offenses that might qualify as “kidnapping” to the average person, but Ohio law uses the names of these offenses to refer to specific behaviors. Let’s start with kidnapping. Under ORC § 2905.01, you cannot use force, threat or deception to remove someone or restrain someone’s liberty for a few specific purposes. Notably, kidnapping doesn’t just mean taking someone away, but it can also arise if you force someone to stay where they are. But you need to do this for one of these purposes: 1) using them “for ransom or as a shield or hostage”, 2) to help commit a felony or escape after committing one, 3) seriously harming the victim physically or terrorizing them, 4) for sex (as defined by ORC § 2907.01), or 5) “involuntary servitude,” like a slave does work against their will. But that’s not all that the kidnapping statute covers. It also covers a lesser mind set—“knowingly” removing someone or restraining their liberty using force, threat or deception under circumstances that could seriously harm them physically. But you still need to know that what you’re doing carries a risk of serious physical harm to the victim, even if you’re not doing it with a certain purpose. 
kidnappingWhile defenses will be addressed later, there’s an important one in kidnapping that will reduce how bad the punishment will be. If the kidnapper can prove that he released the victim to a safe place unharmed, then it’s only a second degree felony, which carries a lighter sentence. But like most offenses, if the victim is a child under thirteen and the offender was motivated by their own sexual gratification to kidnap the victim, it can range from fifteen years to life in prison. 
Abduction, under ORC § 2905.02, is a lesser offense that features similar language as kidnapping. You need to take someone from where they are or restrain them under circumstances that creates a risk of harm to the victim, using threat or force. Unlike kidnapping, deception is not an issue for abduction. Also, the state can charge you with abducting someone if you hold them in involuntary servitude. It also requires that you know that you are restraining someone’s liberty or taking them from where they are located.
And there’s also “unlawful restraint,” which ORC § 2905.03 prohibits knowingly restraining someone’s liberty. This can be increased depending on if the restrainer had a “sexual motivation.” Whether someone’s liberty is restrained means that the restrainer deprived the victim of her liberty, she is compelled to stay somewhere that she does not want to stay, or go somewhere she does not want to go to. 
Originally, ORC § 2905.05 criminalized “criminal child enticement,” which was knowingly soliciting, coaxing, or luring a child under fourteen years old to come with the offender, including in a car or other vessel, if the child didn’t have parent or guardian permission or the offender wasn’t a law enforcement officer, emergency personnel, or school member. You’re probably thinking, “well doesn’t that cover a lot of seemingly innocent behavior?” If you thought that, then you’re absolutely right. The Ohio Supreme Court struck that part of the statute down in State v. Romage because it was unconstitutional, where prosecutors tried to charge a man with it when he merely offered a child money to help him carry boxes into his apartment from his car. While we won’t dive into the depths of constitutional law (as I will save that for you constitutional law nerds out there), the Court found that the statute was unconstitutionally “overbroad,” meaning it covered a lot of perfectly innocent behavior. For example, a senior citizen offering to give a twelve-year-old child and his eleven-year-old brother money to clean out the woman’s attic could fall under the statute. These absurd conclusions caused the Court to strike it down. 
The Ohio legislature scrambled to try to save the law in 2017, but it still hasn’t changed. In 2019, prosecutors in Cuyahoga County tried to convict a man of the statute and failed spectacularly in City of Parma v. Horky. The Court of Appeals in the Eighth District still declared the statute unconstitutional and didn’t buy the prosecution’s arguments that the statute could be applied in a constitutional way. So, if you’re ever charged with criminal child enticement in Ohio, it’s important to remember that it still remains unconstitutional.
Finally, ORC § 2905.32 criminalizes “trafficking in persons.” Basically, this falls into two categories—1) involuntary labor exploitation and 2) sexual exploitation. This offense covers a broad range of behaviors for either of those purposes: recruiting, luring, enticing, harboring, isolating, transporting, providing, maintaining, or attempting to do any of these things to someone. The offender has to know that the other person is going to be used for labor against their will or “compelled” to engage in sexual activity. “Compelling” someone means that the trafficker uses “force, fear, duress, intimidation, or fraud” to get the person to engage in either some form of prostitution or an “obscene, sexually oriented, or nudity oriented” production. For sexual exploitation, you’re really talking about compelling or assisting in some way of an attempt to compel someone to engage in prostitution or some form of pornography. However, just engaging in sexual activity with or soliciting it from a trafficked person isn’t enough under the statute.

Arrested or charged for kidnapping, abduction, unlawful restraint, child enticement or human trafficking in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area?

If you or someone you know was recently arrested or charged for murder or manslaughter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Alex and Tad today at 513-929-9333, or request a free consultation or guide below.

Assault and Menacing

Main affirmative defenses: 

  • Assault: Self-Defense

  • Menacing: Mistake of Fact

To be blunt, there are many types of assault. “Assault,” generally, under ORC § 2903.13 is either “knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to another” or “recklessly causing serious physical harm to another.” Basically, you have to know that what you’re doing will cause the harm or not really care if what you’re doing will cause serious physical harm to someone. So, I swing my baseball bat in a crowded theater. Either I know that I’m going to hit someone in the face and harm them or I’m aware and just don’t care. Either way, I’m committing assault. You’re probably thinking, “Wait a second. What’s the difference between ‘serious physical harm’ and ‘physical harm?’” Well, think of “physical harm” as being “bad,” while “serious physical harm” is “very bad. Under ORC § 2901.01, “physical harm” is pretty much any physical injury, great or small, while “serious physical harm” means you really hurt someone—disfigurement, incapacitation, “substantial risk of death,” hospitalization, or something that really makes someone suffer or puts them in a lot of pain. It can also include serious mental injury that causes the victim’s hospitalization. For example, in State v. Edwards, the Franklin County Court of Appeals found that a two-centimeter cut above the victim’s eyebrow was serious physical harm. 
assaultAnd sometimes, failure to do something means that you “caused” a certain result if your relationship to the victim creates an obligation for you to act, such as a parent to a child or a caretaker to a client or patient. This arises in certain situations where the offender has a close relationship with a victim. That means that you can be guilty of assault even if you never acted, so long as you had a special relationship with the victim and failed to act. For example, a father owes a duty to act to stop some physical harm from happening to his child. In a really grisly case, State v. Elliott, a father who had killed his wife and left her dead in her home was guilty of assaulting his six-year-old child because the child discovered the body and suffered serious mental injury. 
But there are a lot of exceptions and circumstances that make the penalty worse or more lenient. It’s worse if you’re a caretaker of someone with a disability and harm that person. As you could probably guess, the law doesn’t really take kindly to someone hurting cops, prison guards, or first responders while they’re doing their job, so it’s a harsher penalty. The same is true for assaulting child services personnel, court officials and staff, health care workers, or school officials if you know that you’re assaulting one of them when you do it. We will talk about the severity of punishment later, but you should know that for now, who you assault can really matter. 
Felonious assault under ORC § 2903.11 is obviously more serious than regular assault, although you still have “knowledge” as intent. It covers three types of serious physical harm. First, it forbids serious physical harm to someone or their unborn, but unlike simple assault, you need to know that what you’re doing will cause serious physical harm. Second, it forbids using a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance to inflict regular physical harm. What’s a “deadly weapon?” Basically, anything capable of killing someone and it is used as a weapon. “Dangerous ordnances” are essentially automatic or sawed-off guns, bombs, military weapons, or guns with silencers. Finally, if you’re AIDS positive and you know it, having sex with someone without warning them, while you know that they aren’t aware of that, or they’re under eighteen and not your spouse, you’re guilty of felonious assault. Oh, and one more thing. We will talk about “attempt” later, but just know right now that if you attempt to kill someone but you didn’t have a “murderous purpose,” the state can still charge you with felonious assault. 
What if you commit felonious assault but you only did it after someone provoked you, such as when you walked into your bedroom and saw your lover in bed with another person? Well, just as murder under provocation may reduce to voluntary manslaughter, so to may felonious assault reduce to aggravated assault. Just like voluntary manslaughter, an aggravated assault under ORC § 2903.12 is just a felonious assault that occurred due to some reasonable provocation that caused the offender to go into an uncontrollable rage. Again, the provocation needs to be reasonable enough to make someone want to use deadly force and words alone aren’t enough. 
If you’re just negligent, meaning you did something seriously unreasonable, and caused physical harm with a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance without meaning to, ORC § 2903.14 classifies the offense as “negligent assault.”
Next are the types of vehicular assault, which is an assault through the operation of a motor vehicle or boat. Vehicular assault, under ORC § 2903.08, is the lesser of the two offenses in terms of penalty and standard for liability. A vehicular assault requires one of three things: (1) recklessly causing serious physical harm (meaning you knew of the risk of harm and didn’t care), (2) you’re the proximate cause of serious physical harm when you committed a speeding offense through a construction zone, or (3) you’re the proximate cause of serious physical harm when you commit a reckless operation offense in a construction zone. Remember, proximate cause means it’s part of the same transaction as the underlying crime. So if you speed through a construction zone and actually hit someone causing serious physical harm, or if they are seriously injured while trying to jump out of the way of your speeding vehicle, your speeding was the proximate cause of their death. And “reckless operation” means that you drove without caring about how your driving might affect the safety of the people around you, such as tailgating or passing through red lights. 
Aggravated vehicular assault has the same definition as vehicular assault, but with one important caveat—you caused the serious physical harm with your vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So, any DUI that results in you harming someone with your vehicle leads you to an aggravated vehicular assault charge. This is a pretty common charge and you see it a lot in the news. In fact, recently, a counter-protestor in Philadelphia was hit at a Reopen Philadelphia rally by a van after the counter-protestor extended his middle finger at the van driver, who was intoxicated. Here’s a good, general tip: don’t hit someone with your car and don’t do it drunk. 
Finally, I will tell you what “menacing” is, as contained in ORC § 2903.22. It is knowing that you’re causing another person to believe that you’re going to cause physical harm to their person, their property, their unborn child, or their immediate family. Essentially, these are threats. However, it doesn’t matter if the person can actually carry out the threat or intended to carry out a threat. What’s important is how the person who is the target of the threat reacts and if they believe the threat to be genuine, that’s enough. In State v. Friesenhengst, during a period when anthrax mail scares were prevalent, the offender paid a parking ticket by leaving a suspicious package near the college campus mail bin that was addressed to the “bungling, bureaucratic, incompetent idiots at parking services” along with his signed personal check in the amount of “$10 and not a stinking cent more” made payable to “Crummy Parking and Traffic.” The fact that the package was suspicious in size and wrapping was enough for the court to find that, given the prominence of anthrax in the news, the offender had knowingly caused the victims to believe he would cause them physical harm. 
There are two other forms of menacing. There is the dreaded “aggravated menacing” in ORC § 2903.21, which is virtually the same as ordinary menacing except the harm threatened is “serious physical harm,” which carries those distinct forms of harm (disfigurement, hospitalization, etc.). And then there is “menacing by stalking” under ORC § 2903.211. Under the statute, you can’t cause another to believe, through a pattern of conduct that you know will cause them to believe, that you will cause physical harm or mental distress to that person, their family or their household. A pattern of conduct can just be two incidents closely related in time. For example, in State v. Payne, the Ohio Court of Appeals found that where a man drove past a woman’s house multiple times, even though it was a single car trip during a single day, it was closely related in time and more than once. Thus, it constituted a pattern.
“Mental distress,” under the statute, requires that the person is temporarily incapacitated or has to receive some form of mental health treatment, like visiting a psychologist. While it’s normally not a felony, it can be a felony if: the person has a previous conviction for menacing by stalking, the victim is underage, there is a threat of physical harm, the stalker did so at where the victim works, lives or goes to school, the stalker has been violent in the past, a deadly weapon was involved, the stalker is under a domestic protection order against someone, there’s serious physical harm to the property, or there’s evidence that the stalker posed a significant risk of harm to others because of his violent behavior, threats or general dangerousness. A man was charged with this heightened standard of menacing by stalking when he repeatedly sent nude messages of himself and appeared nude on the doorsteps of several Kent State University sororities. Considering this was a pattern of behavior that involved multiple incidents and would cause any sorority member to seek some mental health treatment, there’s a plausible case against him. 

Arrested or charged for assault or menacing in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area?

If you or someone you know was recently arrested or charged for murder or manslaughter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Alex and Tad today at 513-929-9333, or request a free consultation or guide below.

Robbery, Extortion and Burglary

Main affirmative defenses: 

  • Burglary: Mistake of Fact

  • Robbery: Duress, if applicable

What about violent thefts? Well, Ohio law classifies these in three discrete categories: robbery, extortion, and burglary. Robbery, under ORC § 2911.02, requires someone to commit, flee after committing, or attempt to commit a theft while (1) having a deadly weapon, (2) through inflicting, attempting or threatening physical harm to someone, or (3) while threatening or using immediate force against that person. That’s a convoluted statute, let’s walk through each of those elements one by one. 
burglaryFirst, a “deadly weapon” has the same meaning as it did in our chapter on assault—it can inflict death if used for that purpose. Did you know that a court doesn’t presume that a knife counts as a deadly weapon? Yep. The state has to prove that, at least according to an Ohio court, who found that the state successfully proved that a Swiss army knife counted as a deadly weapon.  It goes to show you that you should be careful about what you carry with you because if you ever have to use it, it might be a “deadly weapon” even if you just used it like you would any other tool. 
To rob, you need to threaten or inflict “physical harm,” which is, again, any kind of injury or “physiological impairment” (under ORC § 2901.01(a)(3)) to someone. Courts get real iffy on what counts as “physical harm” because the standard can be pretty low. But one court found that just a slight bruise that lasted for a few days was enough to constitute “physical harm” in State v. Reese, where the robber struck a security guard in the arm after he tried to stop the robber from making off with stolen guards from a department store.  This shows just how minimal the standard can be. 
What about the threat or use of “immediate force?” Let’s begin with “force.” ORC § 2901.01 defines that as “any violence, compulsion, or constraint physically exerted by any means upon or against a person or thing.” Pretty broad, right? The courts have limited this a little bit in the context of robbery. Specifically, it needs to “pose[] actual or immediate harm” to someone and that force has to happen at the same time as the defendant is committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing from the theft they just carried out.  It can be as simple as snatching a purse from an old lady’s hand, as she tried to hold onto it.  If the robber just threatens the use of force, then it needs to be the kind of threat that a reasonable person would fear. For example, when a man raised his fists at another man outside of a bar, demanded his wallet, and reached into his shirt in a manner that made the victim think the robber had a weapon, the court in State v. Bentley found that a reasonable threat. 
Wait a minute—what about intent? Does a purse snatcher intend to use force or a threat of force when he grabs a purse and runs off? While, a prosecutor may choose not to pursue robbery in the case of a purse snatcher, if she does choose to prosecute, she does not have to prove that the defendant intended to use force. The mens rea, or intent, for robbery need only be proved with respect to the theft itself. In State v. Tolliver, the Ohio Supreme court clarified that when a statute specifies a level of culpability, or mens rea, for one element within the offense, but not others, the State only needs to prove the culpability for that element.  In effect, the other elements of the offense require no mens rea. Although the decision in Tolliver has been questioned in light of subsequent legislation, as it stands now, in the case of robbery, the State is only required to prove that the defendant purposely or knowingly stole the property, but not that the defendant intended to use force or threat of force. 
Aggravated robbery” is the older, scarier brother of “robbery.” ORC § 2901.11 defines it as, while committing, fleeing from commission, or attempting to commit a theft, (1) having a deadly weapon and showing or saying that you have one, (2) having a dangerous ordnance on you, which is pretty much a military-grade weapon, and (3) inflicting or attempting serious physical harm on someone. You don’t even need to show the deadly weapon, as Ohio courts have found that a threat that you’ll “blow the heads off” of someone is enough if combined with other acts, like putting your hand in your pocket.  Serious physical harm varies wildly, but is still the type of “very bad” violence we talked about in the chapter on assault. And just like robbery, you don’t have to have any kind of intent with regard to the serious physical harm or threat thereof. 
Extortion under ORC § 2905.11 means that you, while intending to get something valuable to you or convincing someone to do something unlawful: (1) “threatened to commit a felony,” (2) threatened a violent crime, (3) menaced or attempted to menace, (4) said or threatened a “calumny against any person,” or (5) threatened to or exposed someone to “hatred, ridicule or contempt” or harmed their credit or personal or business reputation. It’s quite a mouthful. The first two are obvious; you threatened a violent crime or felony, such as saying you will kill someone’s mom unless they rob a convenience store for you. 
But what about something “valuable” to you? This runs the gambit. It can be intangible, like in State v. Lutz, where a man threatened a judge with an involuntary bankruptcy proceeding if he didn’t release him from jail. This case also works as an example for number five because he threatened to harm the judge’s credit. 
What the heck is a “calumny?” A calumny is a false statement made to injure one's reputation or character.  In State v. Cunningham, a caller posing as a schoolteacher’s fiancé stated he needed her to pay someone $1,000 or the person would report the fiancé for a drunk driving accident. The schoolteacher was suspicious and called her fiancé at his number and learned that he was fine and had not been involved in an accident. She then called the police and the offender was caught. The result was an extortion conviction using “calumny” for attempting do damage the fiancé with a false accusation of drunk driving. 
But don’t think you can extort someone for something valuable so long as you are being truthful in damaging the target’s reputation. The next element is the classic protection against extortion, that protects a victim from being extorted with a threat to expose something that will cause them personal or business damage.
Now, onto burglary. Basically, burglary is a type of trespassing onto someone’s home with the intent to commit a crime. Specifically, ORC § 2911.12 defines it in a few discrete ways. First, you can be charged with burglary if you have an intent to commit any crime and use stealth, force, or deception to trespass to enter into an occupied structure or a separately secured portion of that structure for a criminal purpose if someone is there or, in the case of a person’s home, someone is likely to be there. An “occupied structure” is basically anything that someone uses as a permanent or temporary “habitation,” under ORC § 2901.01(C), even if it’s not occupied at the time you break into it. This could be someone’s tent that they’re camping out in for the night or their car if they were kicked out of their house and have nowhere else to sleep. And you also can’t break into someone’s “permanent or temporary habitation” with that criminal intent when it’s occupied or likely to be occupied by someone. A “trespass” means that you enter someone’s private property without their permission.
Here’s the bottom line—its worse to break into somewhere with someone present because the burglary charge is a higher category of felony if you break into either an “occupied structure” when someone is present or a “habitation.” If you just break into an “occupied structure” and no one is there but you have the intent to commit a crime when you get into the structure, then it’s also a lesser category of burglary. Finally, if you just trespass onto someone’s home while they’re present or likely to be present but you had no intent to commit a crime, it’s considered a lesser trespass offense and not as stringent of a punishment as burglary. 
Let’s talk about the “force, stealth or deception” requirement. “Force,” much like in robbery, requires a certain level of physical exertion. For example, just opening an unlocked door by turning the door knob requires some level of physical exertion. Thus, it counts as “force” under the definition of burglary. “Stealth” is much what it sounds like—trying to avoid getting caught while entering or remaining on the property. A personal aide to a disabled man was found to have used stealth to enter into the man’s home when she retained a key card allowing her access to the man’s home after she was terminated as an employee in State v. Pistillo.  Finally, there is “deception.” Broadly speaking, it’s causing another person to believe something false or misleading, through an overt action or just something as simple as withholding information. In State v. Massey, the court found that a well-dressed man who entered a building among a group of employees and swiped a laptop from a desk had deceived the owners because he used a clandestine method of entry to appear like he actually worked in the building just to take the laptop. 
Here are some more good tips about burglary. You can have the purpose to commit a crime at any time during your trespass, so you don’t have to form it before or after you actually enter the building or structure. Next, a person is “present” in a structure if they were in there when the defendant starts breaking in, even if they quickly run out of the structure upon realizing the defendant was breaking in. Whether someone is “likely to be present” is trickier. Basically, it depends on the facts and circumstances. The Lake County Court of Appeals found that despite the fact that the homeowner of a burgled house was in Texas at the time of the burglary, because his parents frequently went to the house to check on the owner’s dog, persons were “likely to be present.”  However, this element is an important element for litigation. The State bears the burden for proving that a person was likely to be present. On a different set of facts, in State v. Rogers, “where the occupants of a house [were] almost always absent as part of their fixed work schedule, they [were] not likely to be present during their regular working hours.”  This demonstrates the importance of a good lawyer who is ready, willing, and able to dispute every element of the offense. 
How about “aggravated burglary?” It features some key differences from burglary. First, there needs to be someone actually present on the property at the time of entering. Next, the burglar must either inflict, attempt or threaten physical harm to someone or have a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in their control under ORC § 2911.11. Just like robbery, the definitions of “physical harm,” “deadly weapon,” and “dangerous ordnance” all remain the same.

Arrested or charged for robbery, extortion or burglary in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area?

If you or someone you know was recently arrested or charged for murder or manslaughter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Alex and Tad today at 513-929-9333, or request a free consultation or guide below.

Arson, Aggravated Arson, Terrorism, and Making Terroristic Threats

Main affirmative defense: Mistake of Fact

Man has been fascinated with fire for a long, long time. But man has also recognized that it’s pretty bad for everyone if we just let people light things on fire, especially when someone lights someone else’s property on fire. That’s where arson comes in. Arson, under ORC § 2909.03 prevents “knowingly” (meaning you were aware of the consequences of your action), through using fire or explosion, “causing or creating a substantial risk of physical harm to any property of another” in six discrete instances. First, a “substantial risk” is defined as “a strong possibility, as contrasted with a remote or significant possibility, that a certain result may occur or that certain circumstances may exist.” So, that means that your action must carry a strong risk of physical harm to another person’s property. 
arsonHere are the six instances covered under arson. First, it’s the other person’s property and they didn’t consent to you burning it. Second, it’s your own property and you’re doing it for fraud, such as to collect insurance proceeds. Third, it’s a state government public building or structure, like a school or a courthouse. Fourth, you’re paid to light the fire by someone for the purposes of fraud (again, think insurance fraud). Fifth, the property is someone’s real property or land that they didn’t consent to or is a natural area, like a park or forest. Sixth is the same as five, except it’s done for the purpose of fraud.
Let’s start with intent. As you could tell, some of the types of arson require you to have a “purpose” to defraud. Thus, you need to intend to light that property on fire or intend for it to burn or explode. With all the other types of arson, you just need to know that you’ll cause the strong possibility of physical harm to the property. But more importantly, you don’t even have to light the property on fire or blow it up for arson because you just have to create the risk. Like the case for Anthony Wills, who threw a firebomb that didn’t explode into the windows of a woman’s house.  Despite this, he was charged with aggravated arson because it didn’t matter that Mr. Wills was too “inept” to create an effective firebomb. All that mattered was that he threw one because there was a substantial risk that it would have lit the house on fire. In cases that aren’t fraud, the property can’t be your own. It has to be someone else’s property. What if you’re married and you decide to torch your wife’s car? Well, that may still count as another’s property, at least according to the Ohio Court of Appeals, and you can be charged with arson because your actions caused that substantial risk to the property of another.  Although, this issue has not been fully litigated, such as by considering a vehicle that is titled jointly, the leaning of the courts seems to favor counting it as the property of another. 
Like all other offenses, aggravated arson is the more serious type of arson. ORC § 2909.02 covers it in three categories. First, you must knowingly create a substantial risk of serious physical harm to someone other than yourself. Remembering our definition of “serious physical harm,” you can imagine that most severe burns or grievous injuries that arise when you light something on fire near someone else could qualify. Next, if you actually physically harm an occupied structure, you’re on the hook for aggravated arson. Just as in burglary, an “occupied structure” is anywhere that you would expect someone to be, even if they’re not there. So when disgruntled former tenant Mr. Bock lit his old house on fire when its current owner was out of town, he received a fat aggravated arson sentence because even though the owner wasn’t there at the time, he still lived in it on a part-time basis and the home gave the expectation that someone lived there.  Third, you commit aggravated arson if you accept payment for creating the substantial risk of physical harm to property through fire or explosion. 
As we all know, 9/11 changed everything, especially in the law. That’s how the “terrorism” statute came to be. Under ORC § 2909.24, you can’t commit a violent offense for the purpose of  intimidating or coercing civilians, influencing government policy, or affecting government conduct. Generally, the specified offenses are violent felonies or attempts, conspiracies, or complicity to such offenses. I’ll give a brief list, but this isn’t exhaustive. These are homicides, assaults, kidnappings, sex offenses, arsons, burglaries, robberies, riots, domestic violence, intimidation, or retaliation. In looking this up, I couldn’t find a single instance where an Ohio state court charged someone with this. That’s probably because there are federal statutes that hit this crime a lot harder. At least, that was the case for Damon M. Joseph, a man who stockpiled weapons in an attempt to carry out a terrorist attack on a Jewish synagogue because of his devotion to ISIS, the Islamic extremist terrorist group. The point is that Ohio state statutes might cover terrorism but they don’t necessarily get used all that often.
The same can’t be said for ORC § 2909.23(A), which prohibits “terroristic threats.” These are threatening to commit or cause the offenses listed under the terrorism statute as violent felonies in a manner that gives the reasonable expectation of fear because of the “imminent commission of the offense.” Just like terrorism, you say the threat with the purpose to coerce or intimidate someone’s conduct or the government’s conduct. And you don’t need to intend the offense or be capable of carrying it out, so long as you intended coercion and the other person became reasonably afraid. For example, in State v. Laber, the Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict convicting a man of making terroristic threats when he told his coworker that he planned to shoot some coworkers, detonate a few bombs and “would start at the front office.”  Because he intended to make his coworker afraid because he threatened everyone with a violent felony, he was convicted. 

Arrested or charged for arson or terrorism in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area?

If you or someone you know was recently arrested or charged for murder or manslaughter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Alex and Tad today at 513-929-9333, or request a free consultation or guide below.

Attempt, Conspiracy, and Complicity

Traditional affirmative defenses:

  • Attempt: Impossiblity or Abandonment

  • Conspiracy: Impossiblity or Abandonment

  • Complicity: Renunciation/Abandonment

So, up until now, we’ve been talking about when someone actually successfully commits a crime. But that’s not always the case. What about when the perpetrator tries to commit the crime but fails? Or how about the people who help him set it up or assist him in some way but don’t actually commit the crime themselves? 
Attempt is found in ORC § 2923.02. It prevents a person from “purposely or knowingly, and when purpose or knowledge is sufficient culpability for the commission of an offense,” engaging “in conduct that, if successful, would constitute or result in the offense.” Summed up, this means that you tried to commit a crime but didn’t succeed. As far as intent, the statute sounds kind of tricky, but it isn’t if you really think about it. All that it means is that whatever intent was needed for the crime is also needed for the attempt. Take murder, for example. We talked about murder requiring “purpose,” as in you intend to kill someone with your actions, i.e. shot your gun at them. Well, for attempted murder, you still had the same intent to kill someone when you shot at them, so you have the intent necessary for attempt.
On the subject mens rea, with respect to Attempt, you could not be convicted of attempt for an offense that requires a mens rea of negligence or recklessness. Attempt requires a mental state of purposely or knowingly. You cannot purposely or knowingly be reckless or negligent. This is obvious for negligence, which you might think of as carelessly, unknowingly, or unintentionally causing harm or damage. Recklessness is a closer call, but if you are engaged in reckless behavior that you should have known was reckless, your mental state will likely be bumped up to knowingly. For example, when you recklessly speed through the construction zone and narrowly miss the construction worker picking up cones, you cannot be charged with attempted reckless homicide or attempted negligent homicide for the near miss.   
But what kind of act do you need to perform to be guilty of attempt? In other words, what is “too far?” The Ohio courts have settled on declaring that any act which is a “substantial step” towards completion of the underlying offense counts as an act sufficient to make someone guilty of attempt. This act has to be the kind of thing that definitively shows the actor’s true purpose. For example, in State v. Figueroa, a man at a gas station charged the female supervisor of the gas station, punched her in the face and then held a knife towards her.  There, the court found that these actions indicated his intent to commit felonious assault because his actions demonstrated that he was willing to cross the line into inflicting serious physical harm to the woman. 
It’s worth talking about the specific defenses for attempt, even though we’ll address that later in the defense section, because it’s helpful to know what will and won’t serve as a good defense. Historically, offenders raised the defense of factual or legal impossibility. The classic illustration of factual impossibility is the attempted murder with a gun which cannot fire because of broken firing pin. While it was factually impossible to carry out the murder with the broken weapon, under Ohio law, this will not be a successful defense. The defense of legal impossibility also fails under the current revision of the statute. Legal impossibility occurs in a sting operation where the police set you up to receive stolen property. Of course, the property isn’t actually stolen because the police own it. Nevertheless, Ohio law specifically states that it is no defense to a charge of attempt where the target offense was either factually or legally impossible, so long as the offender believed the offense could be committed. 
What about starting the attempt but abandoning it? If you voluntarily and completely give up your criminal purpose and just walk away from the whole thing without any intention to resume it, then you might have the defense of abandonment. ORC § 2923.02 states that this must be “a complete and voluntary renunciation of the actor’s criminal purpose.” In City of Youngstown v. Osso, a man who began kicking the door at his ex-wife’s house but then left when his wife and her sister observed him through the window, successfully abandoned the offense of domestic violence and could not be convicted of attempt where he completely and voluntarily renunciated any criminal purpose.  
Under a slightly different set of facts, where the ex-wife says she will call the police, the defense would likely fail because it would no longer be voluntary. Leaving because things got too difficult or you were worried about getting caught by the cops isn’t enough. For example, Mr. Marcum pointed a rifle at his brother and tried to shoot to him.  Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for the brother), he forgot to put a bullet in the chamber. He then stopped trying to shoot him because his brother and deputies physically subdued him. Mr. Marcum tried to raise abandonment as a defense, but the court had none of it. Because Mr. Marcum only abandoned his plan after he realized it was too difficult to kill his brother without a bullet, it was neither a “complete” nor “voluntary renunciation.”
Here’s another rule about attempt—you can’t be convicted of both the attempt and the actual crime. If you actually follow through and kill someone, you can’t be charged with both murder and attempted murder. The same goes for conspiring to commit a crime and the attempt. You’re only on the hook for one. 
But what exactly is “conspiracy?” Basically, ORC § 2923.01 prevents you from purposefully planning or helping someone commit a certain offense or agreeing to act in a way that “facilitates the commission” of certain offenses. The offenses include prostitution, robbery, murder, kidnapping, abduction, arson, burglary, drug trafficking, corrupt activity, and many others. Unlike attempt, where you perform an act that leads to the crime, this is really about planning out the crime in advance. Because conspiracy is a separate offense from the offense intended to be carried out, one can be charged for conspiracy whether or not the offense is successfully carried out. It follows then that you could be convicted for both the conspiracy and the offense (or attempted offense). So, to conspire, you’ve got to (1) plan or aid in the plan of those specific offenses or (2) agree with others to commit the offense. If you agree, then you’re conspiring, even if the others don’t intend to go along with it, which allows an offender to be set up for conspiracy by law enforcement. And you don’t even have to know who you’re conspiring with, so long as you have reason to believe that who you’re conspiring with is conspiring with other people for the offense. Take, for example, Mr. Milo who hired a hitman out on his own brother.  Even though he didn’t directly contact every party involved, he still had reason to believe that his initial phone call to get someone else to set up the hit on his brother was going to facilitate a murder. Thus, he conspired.
As far as intent, you need purpose, or intent to enter the agreement and to achieve whatever crime underlies that agreement. And for the act, the statute states that there must be a “substantial overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy” for a conspiracy conviction. “Substantial” means that it shows that the actor has the purpose to complete the conspiracy. The “overt act” need not be an illegal act itself. For example, in a conspiracy to commit a murder, legally obtaining a weapon could be an overt act. The overt act must also be an open or outward act, without attempt at concealment. In State v. Papp, Tim Papp sent a letter to some inmates trying to get them to carry out a hit on a prosecutor in Lorain County for $100,000.  The letter was “overt” because he sent it without concealment. And it was substantial because he intended to coerce and convince the inmates to carry out the hit by offering the $100,000. 
And you can get into issues with multiple crimes and multiple parties. First, even if you conspire to commit multiple crimes with the same people in one agreement, you can only be charged with conspiracy once. Provided that you had one goal in mind to carry out under one agreement, a conspiracy charge is possible. If there are multiple parties involved, the question arises as to whether there are multiple conspiracies or just a single one. We won’t get into the weeds for most violent crimes because those are a bit more straightforward. Provided that you’re entering into an agreement with at least one other person to plan or help someone commit a violent offense, you need to watch out for conspiracy charges. 
How is conspiracy proved? Frequently, the statement of a co-conspirator is introduced as evidence of the agreement element. Generally, such statements might be inadmissible as hearsay, which is defined as an out of court statement offered as evidence of the truth asserted by the statement. For example, the statement that, “Susan told me that the getaway car was Tom’s Ford Mustang” would generally be inadmissible to prove that the getaway car was Tom’s Mustang. However, some statements that seem like “hearsay” are expressly declared as not hearsay by the Rules of Evidence. One type of statement that is not hearsay by rule is “a statement by a co-conspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy upon independent proof of the conspiracy”  Consider the statement by John, “Susan told me if I gave her a gun, she and Sam would agree to kill Betty.” This would be hearsay if offered to prove that either Susan or Sam agreed to kill Betty. However, so long as there was proof of the conspiracy, independent of this statement, the statement could be used to prove that Susan, Sam, and John were involved in the conspiracy. 
For co-conspirators, these statements are admissible and can be used against any member in the conspiracy. But if the statement was not made during and in furtherance of that conspiracy, then it is inadmissible. However, you cannot be convicted under Ohio law based only on the statements of co-conspirators without other evidence, but these statements could help sway a jury who have access to other pieces of evidence. 
Impossibility also is not a defense to conspiracy, just like it wasn’t for attempt.  Abandonment can be a defense, but it requires a bit more action to abandon a conspiracy, and it must occur before any illegal acts are committed. It’s not enough to get cold feet and wait in the car while your co-conspirators proceed to burglarize the house. One way to abandon requires that you inform all other conspirators of your abandonment, or inform law enforcement of the existence of the conspiracy and your participation in the conspiracy. A conspiracy may also be abandoned by all parties to the conspiracy prior to committing any offense that was an object of the conspiracy. Similar to abandonment is the defense of “renunciation” under ORC § 2923.01(I)(1) if you act to “thwart[] the success of the conspiracy” through your “complete and voluntary renunciation.” This defense basically requires that you prevent the offense from taking place, and your decision to do so must be voluntary. In this context “voluntary” really means you had a genuine change of heart not simply an increased fear that you might get caught. For example, your renunciation of a conspiracy to commit a burglary would not be voluntary if it came only after you arrived at the house and heard the snarling growl of a pit bull, or got spooked by the sound of a siren.  
Now, let’s move onto “complicity” or “accomplice liability” under ORC § 2923.03. Historically, this statute punished people who helped someone else commit a crime, in one way or another. Let’s start with the language of the statute in order to figure out what “complicity” is. The statute prohibits the four following behaviors, if you do so with a particular intent: (1) procuring or soliciting someone to commit a criminal offense, (2) “aid or abet” someone “in committing the offense,” (3) conspiracy, (4) or causing “an innocent or irresponsible person to commit the offense.” For intent, you need to have the same kind of intent that you would need if you committed the underling offense. So, if you’re complicit to murder, that means you would need to have the same intent you’d need for the murder—purpose. And just like we always say with intent, you can figure out someone’s intent to be complicit in a crime through the facts and circumstances. I’ll go over this in some examples after we go through the four categories.
“Solicitation” sounds like what you think it prohibits—asking someone to commit a crime for you. If I ask someone to kill my wife and I intended for that person to kill my wife, I just solicited them to commit murder on my behalf. Next is “aiding and abetting.” Basically, you have to actually do something that helps the criminal actor commit the offense. This could be a physical act, like handing someone the murder weapon, or verbal conduct, like teaching someone how to break into a building to rob it. To show you, read this example of aiding and abetting from 1996. In State v. Johnson, the defendant drove around a gang member who ended up accidentally killing a three-year-old child in an act of vengeance against a rival gang.  Just like us, the Court was puzzled that “aid and abet” had no real definition. But it found that simply being present at the crime wasn’t enough to qualify. Indeed, you had to actually do something that helped the criminal commit the crime. In Johnson, the defendant drove the shooter around from place to place until finding the site of the tragic shooting. This act helped the killer so much that it constituted aiding and abetting, and the court inferred his intent from the fact that he acted along with the killer’s purpose to try and kill a rival gang member in vengeance.
The state can try coconspirators as accessories, meaning that they were complicit in the crime. You already read about conspiracy, so let’s talk about the final section—causing an innocent agent to commit a crime. If you use a patsy to do something illegal for you when they don’t know it, then you’re guilty under the Ohio complicity statute. Again, you need the same intent as the underlying crime. Here’s an example; a man hatched a plan to have his minor son start a fire in his estranged wife’s dryer vent to burn her alive in State v. Sheldon.  It seemed that Mr. Sheldon hatched a comprehensive plan to kill his wife by fire and wanted one of his sons to sneak over and set her house on fire. His sixteen-year-old son pretended to play along, just long enough to get himself and his brothers away from the firebug. The court found that this was enough to show that Sheldon had acted with the purpose to convince an innocent party into setting his estranged wife on fire. Thus, he was complicit in attempted murder.
As far as punishment, just remember that accomplices are subject to the same penalties and punishment as the principal offender who committed the crime. And just like the other offenses we listed, you can make a complete and voluntary renunciation as a defense.

Arrested or charged for attempt, conspiracy or complicity in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area?

If you or someone you know was recently arrested or charged for murder or manslaughter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Alex and Tad today at 513-929-9333, or request a free consultation or guide below.

The Rest of the Offenses, Including Aggravated Riot, Domestic Violence, Corrupt Practices, Gang Participation, and Interference with Custody

Main affirmative defenses:

  • Interference with custody: Actor reasonably believed that her conduct was necessary for the taken child, who is either under eighteen years old or a mentally-handicapped adult under twenty-one, to avoid harm to her health or safety.

  • Gang Participation: Mistake of Fact

  • Corrupt Practices: Duress, if applicable

  • Domestic Violence: Proper and Reasonable Parental Discipline

  • Aggravated Riot: Mistake of Fact

The rest of these offenses don’t fit into a neat category like the others, although most of them tend to disrupt the public peace. This makes them good enough to throw together.
First, let’s talk about “aggravated riot” under ORC § 2917.02. Like all aggravated offenses, this is just a worse form of a riot. There are two forms of this type of riot: (1) disorderly conduct under certain circumstances or (2) prison-specific riots. The two forms are identical except that the second is applicable only to an inmate in a detention facility.
But what is “disorderly conduct?” Under ORC § 2917.11, disorderly conduct is a broad offense covering certain reckless behaviors or drunken behaviors, including fighting, threats, unnecessary noise, taunts, insults, hindering someone’s right of way, and other general disturbances of the peace. Basically, “disorderly conduct” is a codeword for acting like jackass. If you do any of those behaviors recklessly, it means you just didn’t care and decided to act like an asshole without regard to the consequences. And if you voluntarily become intoxicated and engage in those behaviors, then you could also be charged with disorderly conduct. 
Violation of the offense occurs if you engage in disorderly conduct with at least four other people with a purpose to either “commit or facilitate the commission of” a felony or violent crime, or where the offender engages in disorderly conduct with four others and is carrying a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance and knows he’s carrying one. Since we mentioned that “disorderly conduct” requires “reckless” intent, the difference between that and this aggravated rioting is that you need to have a purpose—intent to do something—to cause a violent crime or felony. For the deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance prong, he must “know” that he has this when he’s engaging in the disorderly conduct. 
Now, for an example. Mr. Henderson showed up to an argument between some women in the street that he knew and proceeded to encourage everyone to fight, while hitting at least two bystanders with a firearm.  He told the crowd of women arguing, “Why is you all standing here? Go beat those bitches up.”  This prompted an unrestrained brawl, resulting in multiple injuries. The Court of Appeals upheld Mr. Henderson’s conviction because he sparked several violent felonies with his encouragement and did so “knowingly” with his firearm. 
Let’s talk about domestic violence next. Under ORC § 2919.25, domestic violence is causing or attempting to cause any physical harm to a family or household member when you know your action will cause any kind of physical harm, or recklessly causing serious physical harm to a family or household member. Finally, it also prohibits using threat of force to cause someone in your family or household to believe that physical harm is imminent. Remember, “physical harm” can be any injury, illness or psychological impairment inflicted to someone. 
Regarding Domestic Violence, police officers are encouraged by Ohio law to use arrest as a means of stopping it after it has allegedly occurred. Under § 2935.03(B)(3)(b), a cop just needs “reasonable grounds” to believe domestic violence has occurred in order to arrest the aggressor for it. This is a minimal standard. 
You should also know that family or household members are viewed broadly by the law. In fact, it can even include people who aren’t directly related or currently married, like an ex-wife or your current girlfriend. In fact, Ohio extends domestic violence protections to certain “cohabiting” couples who act like a family and have the level of mutual love and respect for one another that is comparable to most married couples. It goes to show that simply not being married or directly related can’t stop a domestic violence charge.
Let’s go over common problems that prosecutors face when charging someone with domestic violence. They worry that the abused spouse or family member doesn’t cooperate because of the complex relationship they have with the alleged abuser. Without getting too deep in the weeds, I’ll let you know that the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution generally guarantees the right to confront your accuser when they’re testifying against you. But an exception exists when the statements are considered “nontestimonial,” such as statements made for the primary purpose of addressing an ongoing emergency. Otherwise, you have the right to have your attorney cross-examine someone who gives testimony against you in court. The prosecution can’t just give the judge or jury statements that your wife said without giving you a right to cross-examine her in court.
Ohio statutes target “a pattern of corrupt activity,” which is essentially organized crime. The series of statutes, which run from ORC § 2923.31 to 2923.36, were modeled after federal RICO statutes used to target the mafia, gangs, and other criminal enterprises. First, the statute targets an “enterprise,” which is any group of persons, entity, or organization that carries out illegal activity. It can be as few as two people to as many as five hundred people. Specifically, “corrupt activity” is “engaging in, attempting to engage in, conspiring to engage in, or soliciting, coercing, or intimidating another person to engage in” a huge list of offenses. Without addressing every possible offense, know that it includes most of the violent crimes we’ve talked about in this book, including manslaughter, murder, arson, assault, robbery and terrorism. Drug dealing, various forms of fraud, and types of bribery are also covered under “corrupt activity.” 
To constitute a “pattern,” the corrupt activity must be two or more incidents that are related to the same enterprise but not so closely related as to constitute a single event. It’s important that the activities occur separately, but they must be related and amount to continued criminal activity. It’s easier to understand what is enough to meet the requirements of the statute with an example. In State v. Grimm, a husband and wife stole bronze cemetery ornaments to sell for a profit . The evidence confirmed at least ten specific thefts of property with a value exceeding $500 each. Because the couple committed separate thefts over the span of ten days, this time was stretched out long enough that it made sense to classify these thefts as separate events. 
The statute also covers three distinct patterns of corrupt activity. First, you cannot be employed by any enterprise and directly or indirectly participate in collecting unlawful debts or engaging in the corrupt activity I mentioned. So, if you’re an employee of the mafia and carry out a hit, you could be hit with the corrupt activity statute. Importantly, this requires no intent. That means that if you’re a member of a corrupt enterprise and you end up directly or indirectly participating in the organization’s dirty work, you could be charged. Next, you can’t own an interest in the enterprise, any control of it, or any real property or land supported by the corrupt activity that the enterprise engages in. Finally, the statute targets money launderers of the enterprise. If you use or invest, directly or indirectly, profits from the enterprise, then you can be charged. 
gang participationNext, let’s go over ORC § 2923.41—participation in a criminal gang. It’s very similar to the “corrupt practices statute.” It prohibits someone from actively participating in a criminal gang knowing that the gang engages in a pattern of criminal gang activity. The person must also purposely further, assist, promote or commit criminal conduct. A “criminal gang” is any formal or informal group or organization of three or more people that has a common name, sign, symbol or color that engages in a “pattern of criminal gang activity”—members commit, attempt, conspire or are complicit in at least two or more felonies, violent crimes or specified juvenile or drug offenses. The participation must be active participation. Just having a gang symbol on some clothing at home isn’t enough but attending a gang meeting is. 
Finally, there is ORC § 2919.23 or interference with custody. This prohibits someone from taking, keeping, harboring aiding, abetting, enticing or causing someone to leave custody of a parent, guardian, or custodian without consent when the criminal actor knows that what they’ll do will cause a non-consented leave from custody. “Custody” in this statute is with respect to a child under eighteen or a handicapped child under twenty-one, or a person committed by law to an institution.. You can raise an affirmative defense that you reasonably believed that you needed to take the child or person from custody because it was necessary to keep them safe. And if you told the child or person’s caretakers in a reasonable time that you took them, where you took them and why, that’s also a defense.

Arrested or charged for one of the violent crimes offenses above in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area?

If you or someone you know was recently arrested or charged for murder or manslaughter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Alex and Tad today at 513-929-9333, or request a free consultation or guide below.


Violent Crimes Attorney Steven R. AdamsThese are all serious charges, and a conviction could change your life. Our founder was a former felony prosecutor, so we know how to protect clients. All of our attorneys are experienced and hardworking. We offer and do more than our competitors, and we have multiple office locations for your convenience. Our track record of success in protecting clients demonstrates our ongoing commitment and capability. We know how to protect you, even in cases involving the most serious charges. Work with us and be one of our successful and satisfied clients in Ohio or Northern Kentucky.

Are you or someone you know facing criminal charges? 

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams is recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and is one of U.S. News' Best Law Firms.  Please contact us online or call our Cincinnati office directly at 513-929-9333 to schedule your free consultation.