Governor Kasich recently signed Senate Bill 33 into law. Senate Bill 33 amended certain sections of the Ohio Revised Code, and created one new section. The bill essentially makes two important changes for criminal defendants. First, it allows the State to disclose information from the law enforcement automated data system (LEADS) to defendants in criminal or traffic cases. Second, it allows judges to keep someone on an intervention in lieu of conviction program even if that person violates one of the program’s conditions.
Before this bill, the State could not disclose information contained in LEADS. This bill allows the State to disclose information from LEADS to a defendant or her attorney including the defendant’s own criminal or traffic record according to the rules of discovery in criminal or traffic cases. The State may not punish or sanction those who provide information to defendants under this new law.
The intervention in lieu of conviction program was, until this bill, unforgiving to those who violated its conditions. Judges had no choice but to find the violator guilty and impose a sentence. Now, it is up to the judge whether to find a violator guilty or continue her on the intervention in lieu of conviction program. The bill also provides a middle ground: the judge can continue a violator on the program, but impose additional conditions. This allows judges to consider the facts and circumstances of each case instead of being forced to find every violator guilty.
This bill provides needed changes to the criminal justice system in Ohio. Many cases involve a defendant’s criminal record, and defendants have the right to know what the prosecutor is going to bring into court. Defense attorneys need that information to prepare their clients’ cases. The intervention in lieu of conviction program allows defendants to avoid prison and a criminal record, but was inflexible to those it sought to help. People went to prison for minor violations of program conditions. Now, judges determine case-by-case what to do when program participants violate the terms of the program.