Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What is a Crime?

Every state has its own answer.  In Ohio, a crime is defined as specific conduct that is subject to punishment either as a felony or misdemeanor – either for doing something forbidden (such as murder or theft) or for not doing something required (such as failing to register as a sex offender).

People are expected to know what a crime is so they know how society expects them to behave. Generally, crimes in Ohio are set forth as laws – called “statutes” in Title 29 of the Ohio Revised Code – but these statutes are not always easy to read and understand. 

The 130th General Assembly recognized this and created the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee, a special 24-member committee to work on a comprehensive plan for revising criminal laws. Judge Fred Pepple of Auglaize County Common Pleas has been elected Chair and Tim Young of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office as Vice-Chair. Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor appointed me to be a member of this committee.
On May 7, 2015, the committee held its first meeting.  Am. Sub. H.B. 483 instructs us to study current criminal statutes  and  recommend Ohio’s Criminal Code with the goal of “enhancing public safety and the administration of criminal justice.”  We are to complete our work by August 2016.  It is a big and important project, and if the job is done well, changes will be recommended to make our criminal laws fairer and simpler to read and understand.

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