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Portage County Ohio Law Blog

Certain court policies may unfairly punish the poor

Some legislators in Ohio and other states avoid raising taxes by increasing court-related fines and fees. According to some advocacy groups and concerned lawmakers, such actions are unintentionally punishing indigent offenders who can't afford such payments. In some instances, poor defendants unable to pay end up in local jails for lengthy stays before having their day in court. Others are placed on probation for long periods until their court debts can be paid.

Several legal groups and nonprofit organizations continue to challenge what they believe are unfair court policies that do more harm than good for indigent offenders. This is in spite of the fact that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1983 declared it unconstitutional to detain individuals unable to pay fines. One group founded in 2016 has litigated twenty-plus lawsuits in an effort to challenge what they refer to as "user-funded justice."

Tracking child expenses when requesting child support

When Ohio parents are going through a divorce, one of the most important things they will need to determine is how they will handle child support. In some cases, the parent who is responsible for paying child support may feel as though the other parent is getting a free paycheck, but the reality is that children are expensive; those expenses range from food, clothing and shelter to activities and school supplies.

For those who are seeking child support, they should take care to monitor what they spend on the child. This includes food, clothing and school-related costs. Additionally, healthcare, dental costs and general costs of living should be tracked. One of the most overlooked expenses include the sign-up fees for after-school activities and the costs of the children's hobbies. On top of this, parents should track how much time the child is spending with each parent.

Settlement plan for opioid crisis proposed

Attorneys representing thousands of local governments across the U.S. recently announced a plan intended to settle lawsuits linked to the national opioid epidemic. Documents outlining the plan were filed in an Ohio federal court on June 14.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America's opioid addiction crisis has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people and cost the country billions of dollars. All the while, drug companies have raked in billions in profits. To address the problem, thousands of drug-ravaged communities have filed over 1,800 lawsuits against drug manufacturers, drug distributors and pharmacies seeking billions of dollars in compensation.

Underage drunk driving laws in Ohio

Underage drunk driving is a serious problem. Teen alcohol consumption results in approximately 4,300 fatalities every year. To prevent minors from operating a vehicle while drunk, it is unlawful for minors to consume alcohol, except in the following situations:

  • For religious ceremonies
  • On private premises with the permission of a legal guardian
  • For medical purposes

However, even if a minor lawfully consumes alcohol in these settings, it is always illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence

Considerations for dividing a business in divorce

Ohio business owners who get a divorce may face a number of complicated issues related to the business. Depending on the size of the business and how it is run, it can be difficult sometimes to separate business finances from personal finances. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has potentially provided some additional guidance in this area because it has identified two different classifications of income. However, this is still a complex area, and business owners may want to work with a financial professional on these and other issues.

It is important to separate business and personal finances both for the process of dividing property and for determining child and spousal support. Some methods of determining business income and valuing the business may be more advantageous to the business owner than others. If the company is considered a marital asset, the business owner may need to buy out the spouse. If the owner lacks the liquidity to do this, another option is a promissory note. Both the business owner and the spouse should consider any tax effects of this process.

Research shows split opinions on criminal justice system

Black and white Americans in Ohio and around the country tend to have differing opinions about various facets of the criminal justice system. For instance, black Americans are more likely to believe that minorities have a greater chance of being sentenced to death for murder than white Americans. They also have a less favorable attitude toward police as well as greater concerns about crime both nationally and in the own communities.

Furthermore, black Americans and white Americans also had differing opinions about whether or not felons should be allowed to vote after completing their sentences. In a 2018 survey, 83% of black respondents agreed with this approach compared to 68% of white respondents. Currently, 12 states restrict the right of felons to vote even after they have finished their sentences. Maine and Vermont are on the other end of the spectrum as they don't take away voting rights from felons at all.

Don't overlook insurance issues during a divorce

As many Ohio residents know, preparing for and going through the process of divorce can be a complicated and often overwhelming endeavor. Because there are so many details to take care of, insurance can be easily ignored. However, forgetting to plan for and prepare for the changes related to health care or life policies can have major consequences later on.

Health insurance is an important detail that should be addressed during the divorce process. In many cases, one partner is under the higher-earning spouse's employer-based health insurance program. After the divorce, the lower-earning spouse might continue with that insurance through COBRA. However, this option can be much more expensive. Furthermore, it's only a temporary solution that's available for up to three years after the divorce. A more permanent solution is to seek out personal health insurance, which should be available through the national marketplace. The 2010 Affordable Care Act made more accessible for people with preexisting conditions.

Ohio drug bust leads to seizure of 55 pounds of meth, pot

On April 15, Ohio authorities arrested two individuals for allegedly distributing methamphetamine from a rural farm in Kimbolton. The bust led to the seizure of more than 55 pounds of drugs.

According to local news reports, law enforcement agents from the Licking County Sheriff's Office and the Newark Police Department received information about two people who were allegedly selling large amounts of meth in the area. This information also led to investigations in Muskingum County and Guernsey County. The two defendants were taken into custody in Dresden, and a search warrant was served at their residence in Kimbolton. During a search of the property, agents allegedly uncovered and seized 5 pounds of methamphetamine, 50 pounds of marijuana, several ounces of cocaine, an unspecified amount of psilocybin mushrooms, hundreds of THC vape pens, two vehicles, three firearms, and over $160,000.

3 mistakes men should avoid while negotiating alimony

Divorce is one of the most emotionally draining events you will experience. It is easy to let the anger and sadness take over. This can lead to errors and misguided decisions when negotiating details and filing documents. 

One common area where men make mistakes is during spousal support negotiations. This process requires you to consider income, assets and overall finances of yourself and your ex. Thinking about all of this can be overwhelming, so it is helpful to know what mistakes to avoid before you make them. Here are some tips for what not to do while figuring out alimony payments. 

State representative pleads to drunk driving charge

An Ohio state representative pleaded guilty to a charge of having physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence. He was pulled over early in the morning on March 29, 2019 by a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The trooper said field sobriety tests indicated that the representative was impaired. The man was placed under arrest and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence.

On April 4, 2019, the representative accepted a plea bargain to the lesser charge of physical control of a vehicle while under the influence. His attorney said that he had advised the representative that the state may not be able to prove the case against him, but the representative took the offer so the case would be finished. As part of the deal, the man is required to complete an intervention program. If he fails to do that, he will spend five days in jail. He is also required to pay a fine of $250 and his driver's license was suspended for a period of 180 days.

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