Ohio Year in Review: increasing penalties for attacks on judges/court staff, reducing number of Mayor’s courts in state

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the Ohio legislature in 2012 include the following:

HB 62 Increases penalties and fines for assaults against judges, magistrates, prosecutors, or court officials or employees.

HB 197 Authorizes a municipal, mayor’s, or county court to order community service in lieu of costs for an offender who is unable to pay costs and/or pay in installments. Authorizes courts to provide the Registrar of Motor Vehicles with information relative to the defendant’s failure to pay any court fines or costs when due and prohibits the Registrar from accepting an application for registration or transfer of registration of any motor vehicle owned or leased by the defendant until the court notifies the Registrar that the fines or costs have been paid in full. Requires that municipal and county courts send certain fees and other money they collect to the treasurer of the appropriate political subdivision by the 20th day of the month following the month in which the money is collected.

HB 247 Authorizes a court to cancel claims for amounts due the court if the amounts are uncollectible. Requires that a court give a criminal defendant notice of the consequences of a failure to pay a judgment for costs only if the court imposes a community control sanction or other nonresidential sanction. Gives a sentencing court continuing jurisdiction to waive, suspend, or modify the payment of the costs of prosecution by the defendant. Defines “case” for purposes of criminal costs statutes as the prosecution of all the charges that result from the same act, transaction, or series of acts or transactions and that are given the same case type designator and case number under Supreme Court rules.

HB 606 Increases from more than 100 to more than 200 the population necessary for a municipal corporation to have a mayor’s court unless the municipal corporation is located entirely on an island in Lake Erie.

SB 118 Expands the offense of “aggravated murder” to prohibit a person from purposely causing the death of a judge or magistrate whom the offender knows or has reasonable cause to know is a judge or magistrate when (1) the victim, at the time of the commission of the offense, is engaged in the victims duties, or (2) it is the offenders specific purpose to kill a judge or magistrate. Expands one of the aggravating circumstances used in sentencing persons convicted of aggravated murder to include that the victim of the offense was a judge or magistrate whom the offender had reasonable cause to know or knew to be a judge or magistrate, and either the victim, at the time of the commission of the offense, was engaged in the victims duties, or it was the offenders specific purpose to kill a judge or magistrate.