Ohio’s 10th District Court of Appeals affirmed a bindover decision entered into by a juvenile court. A bindover is essentially a transfer of a juvenile’s case to a regular criminal court. When juveniles commit serious felony offenses, the court may rule to try them as adults.
In this particular case, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relation Juvenile Branch relinquished its authority over the case and transferred it to Franklin County’s general court of common pleas. The defendant appealed, saying that the court’s misuse of § 2152.12 RC violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as his rights under the Ohio Constitution. The appellate court disagreed with his assignment of error, and affirmed the bindover decision (State v. Balams, 2014-Ohio-3253).
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To determine whether a minor’s case can be transferred to adult court, we must look to § 2152.12 of the Ohio Revised Codes. In this case, the juvenile court used sections D and E to justify the bindover decision. Subsection D says that if any of the following apply, a transfer can take place:
- The victim of the alleged offense suffered physical or psychological harm
- Harms suffered by the victim were amplified due to his or her age
- The victim’s relationship with the alleged offender facilitated the offense
- The alleged offense was gang-related
- The alleged offense involved use of a firearm
- The defendant committed the offense while awaiting adjudication as a delinquent
- Prior juvenile sanctions indicate that the minor would not benefit from the juvenile system
- The court determines that the minor is emotionally, physical, or psychologically mature enough for transfer
Subsection E lists eight different scenarios that could justify the transfer of a minor from juvenile court to regular criminal court:
(1) The victim induced or facilitated the act charged.
(2) The child acted under provocation in allegedly committing the act charged.
(3) The child was not the principal actor in the act charged, or, at the time of the act charged, the child was under the negative influence or coercion of another person.
(4) The child did not cause physical harm to any person or property, or have reasonable cause to believe that harm of that nature would occur, in allegedly committing the act charged.
(5) The child previously has not been adjudicated a delinquent child.
(6) The child is not emotionally, physically, or psychologically mature enough for the transfer.
(7) The child has a mental illness or is a mentally retarded person.
(8) There is sufficient time to rehabilitate the child within the juvenile system and the level of security available in the juvenile system provides a reasonable assurance of public safety.