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Portage County Ohio Law Blog

Ohio voters could change drug sentencing standards

Ohio voters will have the opportunity to amend the state's constitution to change the way certain drug offenses are classified. If voters approve of the state's only ballet issue, low-level, non-violent possession charges would be considered a misdemeanor offense instead of a felony. The adjustment would mean individuals charged with crimes of this nature could no longer be sentenced to serve jail time in a state prison. Supporters and opponents have weighed in on the issue.

Those who support the change in how minor drug charges are classified say it would allow funds to be redirected from what's needed to cover incarceration costs to money that could be used for treatment options for offenders. Opponents argue that taking discretion with potential penalties away from judges may undermine the ability to keep offenders in treatment programs. Existing Ohio law makes drug-related offenses a fourth or fifth-degree felony. Judges currently have the option to sentence individuals up to 18-months in state prison.

Tax changes and divorce among seniors

Divorce among seniors (also known as "gray divorce") has become common in Ohio and in other states. Tax law changes that were enacted in 2017 which will go into effect at the end of 2019 could change the way gray divorces are litigated. Older adults who are considering divorce will want to consider how these changes could affect them.

When dividing assets in a divorce, taking into account their respective value is important. The recent tax law changes gave businesses tax breaks which could make small businesses more valuable. However, the value of a small business can be difficult to calculate since the income can vary from year to year.

Possible defenses against drug charges

There are essentially are three different approaches to defense a person can take when facing drug possession charges. A person may use a procedural defense or may challenge the evidence in the case. There is also what is known as an "affirmative defense", which would include pointing out the legality in Ohio of using medical marijuana.

Procedural defenses often focus on illegal search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment protects people against this. An example could be a traffic stop in which a person does not consent to a search although if the drugs are in plain sight, this probably would not be a procedural violation. A person's attorney should also follow up on any crime lab analysis and make sure the drugs are not lost between the time of the person's detention and the trial. In the former case, the substance might not be drugs at all. All of these situations can be grounds for dismissing the entire case.

Divorce, older adults and the effects on health

No matter how old they are, Ohio residents who get a divorce are likely to experience some impact on their health. For people who are 50 years old or older, getting a divorce can result in a range of physical and psychological issues, especially if they are already dealing with health issues.

There are multiple factors that may be contributing to gray divorce. Women and men are living longer than they used to, which means that they have longer to live with any decisions they make. Women who earn their own money do not have to rely on having a husband to have money. Also, older adults may find that deciding to get a divorce is easier the more times they get married; for people who have been married twice or three times, the rate of gray divorce is 2.5 times higher.

Actor Vince Vaughn charged with drunk driving offense

Ohio movie fans may be interested in learning that actor Vince Vaughn was officially charged with DUI on September 7. The 48-year-old actor faced charges after an alleged drunk driving incident that occurred on June 10.

Vaughn was reportedly stopped at a routine sobriety checkpoint at about 12:40 a.m. on June 10 in Manhattan Beach, California, at the intersection of Prospect Avenue and Artesia Boulevard. During the incident, it was reported that he was repeatedly asked to leave his vehicle, but he continued to refuse. He was eventually taken into police custody. He was ultimately released after he posted bail.

Tips for helping your children deal with your divorce

While divorce is difficult on you and your ex-spouse, your children are likely facing some of the most difficult emotional trauma of all. That is because children have less direct information about the complicated dynamics that led to the divorce, and less emotional maturity and life experience to process the event and handle the dramatic change to their lives.

Depending on their ages, your children may need vastly different types of support and coping mechanisms to help them move through the process of divorce in a healthy and emotionally balanced way. Here are some strategies and tips you can use as you go through divorce to help your children have the tools they need to successfully handle this difficult time.

Divorce can spread within a social group

It may come as no surprise to some Ohio couples that divorce seems to occur in waves within social groups. Not only is the idea of "divorce contagion" something that people often report anecdotally in their social lives, it is backed up by scientific research. According to researchers from Brown University, Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego, spouses with divorced friends are 75 percent more likely to separate themselves. Even spouses with friends of friends who divorce are one-third more likely to decide to divorce.

Of course, there are a number of reasons for these statistics. They reflect communities, cultures and social groups that are more open to divorce. Friends within these groups may therefore be more willing to consider divorce themselves. When spouses choose to divorce, it can also cause close friends in unhappy marriages to begin thinking about making changes. Many people stay in bad relationships due to a sense of inertia. When a friend seems to find a way out of that trap, it can motivate others to take action for their own lives and happiness.

Rights may be curtailed with GPS monitoring devices

In some cases, defendants in Ohio and around the country are allowed to wear GPS bracelets as opposed to spending time in jail. However, there are limits to how free a person can be when wearing such a device. For example, a person can be sent back to jail or prison if the device is removed. This may be true even if it is removed to have an X-ray or MRI performed.

Some who have worn the device have complained that it causes skin irritation or is otherwise uncomfortable. Since the ankle bracelet is equipped with GPS, the government can track a person's every move, which erodes his or her right to privacy. Depending on the type of crime a person has committed, it may be necessary to wear the device for several years.

Preparing to co-parent after the divorce

When parents in Ohio make the decision to end their marriage, they may be concerned about how to deal with the post-divorce future of co-parenting. Issues about child custody and visitation are often some of the most emotionally fraught aspects of a divorce. It can always be very difficult to adjust to a new reality in which the children are no longer sharing their parents' home on a full-time basis. There are some guidelines, however, that can help people move successfully through the transition to co-parenting.

First, when parents go through a divorce, it is important to prioritize the interests of the children. Even when both parents can't stand each other, the children love both of them and need to be supported in their desire to communicate and spend time with each parent. In addition, it is important for parents to refrain from sharing intimate divorce details with the children. The kids don't need to take sides, and they may feel an excessive sense of responsibility for the divorce.

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