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New Bill To Protect Child's Right To Counsel Introduced In The Ohio General Assembly

On October 10, 2012, Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard, introduced House Bill 597 to the Ohio General Assembly in response to the Ohio Supreme Court's recent decision, In re M.W. (2012), 2012-Ohio-4538, 2011-0215, holding that a child is not entitled to legal representation during custodial interrogations conducted prior to the filing of a criminal complaint.

In M.W., the Court was called upon to intepret Ohio's current statute regarding a juvenile's right to counsel, R.C. 2151.352, which provides that a child "is entitled to representation by legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings under this chapter or Chapter 2152." The Court concluded that, because the term "proceedings" as used by the statute specfiically refers only to court proceedings, a juvenile does not have a statutory right to counsel at an interrogation conducted prior to the filing of a complaint or appearing in juvenile court.

HB 597 would require that, prior to questioning a child "about anything concerning a charge that the child allegedly committed an act that would be a criminal offense if committed by an adult and on which the child was taken into custody or deprived of freedom of action in any significant way", law enforcement would have to inform the child that he or she has certain rights.

The rights enumerated by the Bill are: (1) the right to an attorney; (2) the right to have an attorney appointed if one can not be afforded; (3) the right not to say anything and that anything said could be used against the child; (4) the right to communicate with a parent or guardian; and (5) the right to communicate with an attorney.

The attorneys of DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder have extensive experience handling criminal charges, including those involving juveniles. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges or have questions regarding Ohio's criminal law, contact the experienced Criminal Attorneys of DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder today.

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