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Policy Shifts Benefit Accused and Convicted Alike

Proposed legislative changes and policy concerns are certain to impact current and future criminal cases, including the possible outcomes and remedies available to a defendant.

Kentucky currently has one of the strictest laws disenfranchising people with felony records. Ex-felons are banned from voting for life unless they get a special reprieve from the state government. This ban blocks more than an estimated 300,000 people from voting which equals more than 9 percent of the voting-age population.

On Tuesday, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin lost his reelection bid to Democrat Andy Beshear. The new governor-elect is poised to sign an executive order that restores voting rights to some people with felony records after they have served their sentences. This could potentially increase the voter polls by more than 100,000. Beshear’s move would repeal the strict lifetime ban, yet leave people unable to vote as long as they are still serving prison sentences or still on parole or probation.

In Ohio, the Supreme Court is considering changing the state’s rules for setting bail in criminal cases. The rule change would require judges to release defendants on the least restrictive conditions. Monetary bail would only be applied to those at risk of not showing up for court appearances to ensure that financial conditions are the least costly to the defendant.

Critics of the current system believe wealthy defendants pay the bond fees and go home to await trial, while poor defendants either stay behind bars or plead guilty so they have a chance to be released. This rule change could affect the fates of roughly 11,000 people on any given day in Ohio who are awaiting their day in court. The proposed changes to be filed with the Ohio General Assembly is expected by January 15, 2020.

The leader of the Ohio Senate is pledging to take action by the end of the year on a bill designed to reduce low-level drug possessions to misdemeanors and increase penalties for drug dealers. This bill allows for people convicted of low-level drug possession charges to have their records sealed upon the completion of drug court requirements. It also creates harsher penalties for drug trafficking, including creating different classes of penalties depending on the drug amounts involved.

These are a few examples of legislative changes on the horizon for both Kentucky and Ohio. Regardless of the political motives behind these implications, it is important to have an attorney who works hard to stay up to date on these rule changes. At Bleile & Dawson, the research never stops in order to ensure the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free confidential consultation.

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