Criminal Law: Paying attention to details in criminal cases sometimes pays off

Criminal Law: Sometimes people criticize so-called “technicalities” in defense of criminal charges, because they feel like it somehow rewards a guilty person.  But more often than not, those “technicalities” are the heart of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the State Constitutions, and the Statutes of the particular jurisdiction.  These are not “technicalities,” but important Rights Americans have that keep the police, prosecutors, and the Criminal Justice system honest to everyone who comes before it, whether guilty or not.  Paying attention to those rights, and the details of all “technicalities” can sometimes be overlooked, but can sometimes be rewarding to someone defending themselves, with or without an attorney.

Such a case was recently decided in the First District Court of Appeals for Hamilton County, Ohio.  In Ohio, a criminal charge or complaint has to be signed under oath by the charging party — usually a police officer, usually before a notary or a court clerk.  If it isn’t, the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction to prosecute the charges. 

On February 3, 2012, an undercover officer getting ready to run a prostitution “sting” operation (where officers pose as prostitutes to arrest prospective customers), filled out the date of the offense and signed the criminal complaint form, but left the details to be filled in by other officers later.  After an arrest was made, the Complaint was filled in and filed with the Court.  When this was discovered, the defendant requested the charge be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction — because the facts of the accusation, being filled in after the complaint was signed, could not have been signed under oath as required — the facts hadn’t even happened yet.

The trial court denied the motion for “technical” reasons (a Rule that requires some motions to be made before trial).  But the steadfast defendant and his attorney appealed that decision, after he was convicted, and the Court of Appeals agreed with the defendant: there was no jurisdiction, that defense can be made at any time, and dismissed the charges.

It is sometimes assumed that these “details” are in order, but sometimes they are not.  This is a case that demonstrates the value of a vigorous inquiry and attention to all details.  You never know what might turn up.  In this case the details, or the “technicalities” of the Law, prevented a prosecution that the Court did not even have jurisdiction to prosecute, because Police “fudged” the “details.”

The link may change but the case is State v. Allen, and can be found at: 

http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/1/2013/2013-ohio-1673.pdf

More information about my practice and background can be found at:

http://www.eaglelawoffice.com.

I hope readers find this information helpful.

Thomas G. Eagle, Attorney

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Auto Insurance Law:  The Ohio Supreme Court recently decided a case related to a driver’s rights to make claims against their own insurance company when they are injured by someone without sufficient insurance to cover their losses.  Many drivers have “Underinsured” or “Uninsured” Motorists coverage (also called UM/UIM).  This is coverage the driver pays for, so that if they or others in the car or other insured persons get hurt by someone who does not have any, or enough, insurance, you have paid for a right of compensation from your own insurance company.  Many insurance companies though will find ways to avoid paying.

One of those avoidances was arguing that the actual wrongful party (the under/un-insured driver) can’t be held liable for some reason, and therefore because you, the innocent person, couldn’t recover anything against them, you can’t get any UM/UIM coverage, either.

One of those avoidances involved government immunity, that is the person who caused the injury was a government employee entitled to some kind of immunity from suit, which is also common. 

The Ohio Supreme Court this week decided a case which essentially construed a common UM/UIM policy to in fact allow, or maybe require, UM/UIM coverage even though the other driver was entitled to governmental immunity, getting rid of a common defense Insurance Companies would use.

The Decision can be found at:

http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/0/2013/2013-ohio-1957.pdf

The link is subject to change but the case is Marusa v. Erie Insurance.

Each driver should consult with their insurance agent to determine if UM/UIM coverage is right for them.  Many times a driver or passenger will find themselves seriously injured due to fault of someone else, and have no recovery because the responsible person is uninsured or underinsured, and UM/UIM coverage can prevent that.

More information about my practice and background can be found at http://www.eaglelawoffice.com.

I hope readers find this information helpful.

Thomas G. Eagle, Attorney

Auto Insurance Law, Personal Injuries: Having the right insurance coverage helps avoid losses

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As a sole practitioner lawyer, but with clients who are individuals, and small businesses, I regularly get questions about current issues important to the kind of people I represent.  I am therefore going to start this blog with short articles about current issues that are important to families and businesses, and hope it is helpful and informative.

For readers who don’t know me, I am a general practitioner in Southwestern Ohio, with an emphasis on various forms of litigation, including family law, civil and commercial litigation, personal injury cases of all kinds, criminal cases, and all forms of trials and appeals.  I have appeared in dozens of courts in this area, including Butler, Warren, Montgomery, Preble, Hamilton, Clinton, Clermont, Miami, Greene, and others, and in Kentucky.

More information about my practice and background can be found at http://www.eaglelawoffice.com.

I hope readers find this information helpful.

Thomas G. Eagle, Attorney

Legal issues important to families and businesses

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