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Criminal Defense, Judicial Release

Sentence Reduction Through Judicial Release in Ohio

What is Judicial Release?

Judicial release in Ohio is a form of early release from prison in which a judge may reduce an applicant’s original sentence if various criteria are met. The determination is made upon the review of an applicant’s eligibility as well as information regarding rehabilitation efforts and conduct while incarcerated, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 2929.20.

The process begins with the eligible applicant filing a motion for judicial release, ideally through an attorney, with the judge who imposed their sentence. The judge has several options upon receipt of the application:

  • Schedule a hearing and grant the application at the hearing;
  • Schedule a hearing and deny the application at the hearing, which would prohibit the court from considering additional applications;
  • Deny the application without a hearing, and without prejudice, which would allow the court to consider additional applications; or,
  • Deny the application without a hearing, and with prejudice, which would prohibit the court from considering additional applications.

If an application is ultimately granted, the individual is released from physical custody and placed on community control with any remaining prison time suspended. However, if the applicant violates community control, the judge may re-impose incarceration.

Who is Eligible for Judicial Release?

Applicants are ineligible for judicial release if they are:

  • Serving a mandatory prison sentence, as the entire mandatory portion of a sentence must conclude before the clock starts for judicial release eligibility;
  • Serving a life sentence;
  • Deemed to pose a risk to the public; or,
  • Former public officials convicted of certain felonies.

Otherwise, the wait period to file an application for judicial release upon admission to prison is:

  • 0 days if the non-mandatory portion of the sentence is less than 2 years;
  • 180 days if the non-mandatory portion of the sentence is 2 years to less than 5 years;
  • 4 years if the non-mandatory portion of the sentence is 5 years exactly;
  • 5 years if the non-mandatory portion of the sentence is more than 5 years to 10 years or less; or,
  • 50% of the sentence if the non-mandatory portion of the sentence is more than 10 years.

Applicants who are in imminent danger of death, medically incapacitated, or suffering from terminal illness are eligible for judicial release, regardless of their specific timelines. It is also important to be mindful of underlying plea deals which may include stipulations as to eligibility.

What Factors Will the Judge Consider?

The following factors are typically taken into consideration by the judge when determining whether to grant an application for judicial release:

  • Statements from other parties, including the prosecutor, victims, etc.;
  • The productivity of the applicant’s conduct while in custody;
  • The applicant’s disciplinary actions while in custody;
  • The age, condition, and injuries of the victim;
  • The relationship between the applicant and the victim;
  • Mitigating/aggravating circumstances surrounding the underlying offense;
  • The applicant’s prior criminal record; and,
  • Whether the applicant is likely to reoffend.

How to Increase the Likelihood of Success

Although each case is unique, the strongest applications for judicial release will usually be able to truthfully include the following information:

  • The applicant did not cause or threaten harm to any person or property during the commission of the underlying offense;
  • The offense was the result of circumstances which are unlikely to reoccur;
  • The applicant led a law-abiding life for a substantial period of time before committing the offense;
  • The applicant is not likely to commit another offense;
  • The applicant has completed, or demonstrated a plan, to make restitution for any injury, damage or loss;
  • Imprisonment is an undue hardship on the applicant and their family;
  • The applicant has demonstrated genuine remorse;
  • The applicant has completed educational/vocational courses while incarcerated;
  • The applicant has completed substance abuse treatment/mental health treatment if appropriate; and,
  • The applicant can provide verification of their living situation, employment opportunities, and efforts to continue rehabilitation outside of prison.

* * *

Attorney Brad Wolfe handles Judicial Release applications throughout the State of Ohio and is available for consultation at (216) 815-6000.
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