Ohio R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) establishes the steps a judge must comply with before imposing consecutive prison terms on an offender. The trial judge must making a finding on the record that in order to punish the offender or to protect the public from future crime, consecutive sentences are necessary and that consecutive sentencing is not disproportionate to the seriousness of the offender’s conduct. The risk the offender poses to the public must also be taken into account.
More importantly, the sentencing judge must find at least one of the following:
(a) The offender committed one or more of the multiple offenses while the offender was awaiting trial or sentencing, was under a sanction imposed pursuant to section 2929.16, 2929.17, or 2929.18 of the Revised Code, or was under post-release control for a prior offense.
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(b) At least two of the multiple offenses were committed as part of one or more courses of conduct, and the harm caused by two or more of the multiple offenses so committed was so great or unusual that no single prison term for any of the offenses committed as part of any of the courses of conduct adequately reflects the seriousness of the offender’s conduct.
(c) The offender’s history of criminal conduct demonstrates that consecutive sentences are necessary to protect the public from future crime by the offender.
The sentencing judge’s findings must be stated on the record and be in the sentencing entry. However, the sentencing judge does not need to justify its findings.
If a defense attorney believes the sentencing judge erred in imposing consecutive sentences, it is incumbent upon them to object at the time of sentencing. Failure to object leaves the appellate lawyer with the daunting task of proving “plain error.”
However, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas recently reversed a consecutive sentence in the case of State v. Knowles, December 30, 2016 when it could not discern whether or not the trial judge consider the proportionality element of consecutive sentences and reversed the case the re-sentencing.