February 19, 2015
A brand new legal opinion has just been released from the Ohio Supreme Court, courtesy of Attorney Mike Hostler of the Ohio PBA. This ties in to one of our updated priorities, the defeat of attempts to enhance the penalty for officers convicted of a criminal offense resulting from their use of force simply because the officer carried or used (as part of his or her normal uniform and equipment) a firearm. Many states and the federal government have enhancements and/or minimum sentences that apply if the defendant had or used a firearm in the course of the offense. If an officer uses his or her firearm (or even has it as part of their uniform) in the course of using force against a suspect, some prosecutors will seek an enhanced penalty. Thus the officer can face not only an unjustified use of force claim, but an enhanced period of criminal incarceration as well.
The Ohio Supreme Court applied common sense in this case and affirmed an appellate court which overturned this firearms enhancement. Please share this opinion with your legal counsel for the union or defense attorneys with whom you work. Thanks again to Mike Hostler for sending this along,