Ohio Supreme Court Address Juvenile Prior OVI Offenses
In State v. Bode, 144 Ohio St.3d 155, 2015-Ohio-1519, the Ohio Supreme Court decided an issue affecting juveniles and the ability of the state to enhance a DUI charge based on prior juvenile adjudications.
As a juvenile, the defendant was arrested for violating an equivalent offense 4511.19(A)(1)(a), colloquially referred to as a DUI charge. He was not represented by counsel. By 2011 Bode had been convicted of three more DUI charges. In 2011, Bode was indicted for and convicted of felony DUI charges. The cases were felonies because of Ohio enhancement statute R.C. 4511.19(G)(1)(d), which relied on his prior juvenile offense to enhance his charged to a felony. In Ohio, if you accumulate “five or more” DUI offenses within a twenty (20) year period, you may be charged with a felony of the fourth degree. Here, the government was attempting to use his juvenile offenses as one of the “five or more.”
The defense argued that because he did not waive his right to counsel at his 1992 juvenile adjudication, the state should not be allowed to use that disposition against him. In a narrow 4 to 3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed. Relying heavily upon well-recognized Due Process cases, the court did not accept the state’s argument that since he was not incarcerated in the 1992 adjudication, he should not have been afforded counsel. The opinion, in dicta, also shows continued life for the collateral attack of a prior sentence under the State v. Brooke, 113 Ohio St.3d 199, 2007-Ohio-1533 analysis.
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