Judicial Release (“JR”) is often confusing for loved ones and inmates to understand. The Statute, which is codified in R.C. 2929.20 has also been changed over the last few years. Here is a break down of the current law as it applies in 2013:
First, an offender has to be eligible for JR. Luckily, most convictions do not preclude someone from eligibility. The statute lists several offenses that do make someone ineligible, and they relate mostly to crimes committed in public office or acting against witnesses, such as bribery, corruption, tampering with records, intimidation, and relatiation against a complaining witness. Anyone can search for R.C. 2929.20 to see a full list of the ineligible crimes.
Assuming someone is eligible, JR is still determined by the number of years someone is sentenced to prison. And the following only applies to non-mandatory terms. We will discuss how mandatory terms affect this shortly. R.C. 2929.20(C) provides:
- If the prison term is less than two (2) years, the offender
may file after thirty (30) days.
- If the prison term is at least two (2) years, but
less than five (5) years, the offender may file after six (6) months.
- If the prison term is exactly five (5) years, the offender
may file after four (4) years have been served.
- If the prison term is more than five (5) years, but
not more than ten (10) years, the offender
may file after five (5) years have been served.
- If the prison term is more than ten (10) years, the offender
may file after serving half of the sentence.
One important distinction though is mandatory prison terms. The statute states all of the above applies to the aggregated non-mandatory term. A firearm specification, for example, can include a mandatory sentence. If someone receives a three (3) year mandatory term for a firearm, and then also was sentenced to three (3) years in prison for other crimes as well, three (3) years must be served first and there is no possibility of JR during that time. However, since the non-mandatory term is only three (3) years, the offender would be eligible after serving just six (6) months after the mandatory term is served.
As we have noted in previous posts about judicial release, it is important to remember this is entirely discretionary by the sentencing judge or court. Just because an offender is eligible does not mean it will be granted. Judicial release is a privilege, not a right. There are many nuances to filing for JR, its procedure, and timing. However, hiring a firm that is experienced in drafting motions for JR will put an offender in the best position for early release.