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On February 25, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court settled a long-running dispute among appellate courts regarding the circumstances under which a judge can order a convict’s sentences to be served one after another (consecutively) or at the same time (concurrently). The court ruled that sentences received for a felony and for a misdemeanor must run concurrently—except in specific situations mentioned in Ohio’s statutes. This means that if you are convicted of a misdemeanor and a felony, you can expect to serve both of your sentences at the same time.
This Supreme Court case developed out of the trial of an Ohio resident who was convicted of felony and misdemeanor charges of receiving stolen property. After the trial, the judge ordered that the sentences for the receiving stolen property convictions would run consecutively.
On appeal, the defense claimed that Ohio’s sentencing law, R.C. 2929.41, requires that sentences for convictions of felonies and misdemeanors must be served at the same time. The appellate court rejected the defense’s argument on the basis that the sentencing law is ambiguous and gives judges wide discretion in determining how sentences should be served.
The Supreme Court, however, agreed with the defense and overturned the appellate court’s decision. It found that R.C. 2929.41 generally prohibits judges from ordering consecutive sentences for felonies and misdemeanors, except when the following misdemeanors are involved:
Since receiving stolen property is not among these exceptions, the trial court had erred in ordering that the felony and misdemeanor sentences be served one after another. In fact, they needed to be served at the same time—which significantly reduced the convict’s time behind bars.
This case illustrates just how important it is for criminal defense lawyers to keep fighting for their client even after a loss at trial. The defense team was able to get a reduced sentence for their client in a situation in which many lawyers would have given up. Observing the inconsistencies in the interpretation of the Ohio sentencing law, the defense was not only able to get a better outcome for their client, they were able to significantly advance the jurisprudence of the state.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we believe that effective advocacy for our clients begins in the first hours of detention and ends only once the last appeal has been decided. We explore every possible defense for our clients and strive to obtain the very best outcomes in their cases through creative and aggressive advocacy. If you’re facing criminal charges and need a Columbus criminal defense attorney, call us today at for a free and confidential consultation.