Ohio Judicial Release

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Ohio Judicial Release:  I was just sentenced to ten years in prison in Ohio, but with good behavior I’ll be out in two years, no problem.  Right? 

Unfortunately, no. 

              Ohio’s early release program is governed by R.C. 2929.20, which provides an earlier release date under certain circumstances.  The statute is very specific and while anyone sentenced to prison can file for judicial release on their own, it may be beneficial to hire a local attorney to help navigate through the court system.  If you’re sentenced in Lake County Ohio but sent to a prison in another area of the state, you will still need to file the motion in the Lake County Court.  Additionally, Courts are only allowed to hold one hearing for any eligible offender, so if the court denies judicial release after a hearing, the court is prevented from granting early release on any subsequent motions.  Many courts will hold a pre-conference hearing on the motion and an experienced attorney will be able to determine the likelihood of success.  If the outlook does seem poor, the attorney may recommend withdrawing the motion and refiling at a later date. 

              While courts may look to prison records, just having good behavior is not going to be the deciding factor as courts are required to look at not only the offense, but also factors as defined in the statute.  First, the inmate must be an eligible offender.  To be an eligible offender, an inmate must be serving one or more nonmandatory prison terms.  If the crime was committed by a person holding a public office and is one of the crimes listed in the statute, such as bribery, the offender will not be eligible for early release.

              The statute sets out the time frame during which an eligible offender may file for release.  If an offender is serving a nonmandatory term of less than two years, the offender may file at any time after arriving at prison.  For nonmandatory prison terms between two and five years, the offender may file 180 days after arriving at prison.  For nonmandatory prison terms between five and ten years, the offender may file after serving five years of the term. If the nonmandatory prison term is more than ten years, the offender may file after serving one-half of the prison term.  It’s important to note that if the prison term includes mandatory time, the calculation for when a motion can be filed begins after the mandatory time has been served. 

              Once a motion has been filed, the court may either deny the motion without a hearing or grant the motion with a hearing.  A court cannot grant the motion without holding a hearing, but remember, if the court denies the motion after a hearing, a subsequent motion will not be considered.

              If a court does schedule a hearing on the motion, the court will notify the prosecutor of the hearing.  The prosecutor must then notify the victim unless the victim has requested not to be notified. 

              The prison will also send a report to the court regarding the offender’s conduct.  This is where good behavior and completion of any programs will be beneficial.  The court will also allow the offender to present other information relevant to granting the motion.

              There are many other factors within the statute the court must consider when reviewing a motion for early release.  If you find yourself serving a sentence and believe you are eligible, be sure to contact Bangerter Law, an experienced criminal defense firm or visit our office 4124 Erie Street Willoughby, OH 44094 that can help you navigate all aspects of early release.