Ohio’s Supreme Court ruled this morning that a portion of the state’s
gross sexual imposition statute (
ORC 2907.05), specifically regarding penalties, was unconstitutional. The specific
provision said that a prison term was required when evidence – except
for the testimony of the victim – validates the gross sexual imposition charge.
Why was it ruled unconstitutional?
The penalty provision of ORC 2907.05 was ruled unconstitutional because
it violated the due process protection laid out in the Constitution. “Due
process” as described in the Constitution is the criminal defendant’s
right to a fair and impartial trial. The high court ruled that the statute
was not fair or impartial because it provided no rationale for differentiating
between cases that have corroborating evidence and those that do not.
The Supreme Court also said it was unconstitutional to impose a mandatory
prison term when a defendant pleads guilty to a 2907.05 charge based on
corroborating evidence. They ruled this was unconstitutional because it
infringes on the defendant’s constitutional right to a trial by jury.
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The Case That Prompted the Ruling
This decision originated from a case in Franklin County. The defendant
(D.B.) pleaded guilty to two counts of gross sexual imposition in 2012.
Based on the evidence submitted, the state found that it corroborated
the charges so they imposed a mandatory prison term. Rather than sentencing
D.B. to this mandatory prison term, the trial court imposed a lesser sentence.
The state appealed and the decision was reversed by the Tenth District.
After the reversal, D.B. appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
To read more about this ruling, view
Provision in Gross Sexual Imposition Statute Found Unconstitutional or
State v. Bevly Slip Opinion.