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Columbus Divorce Law Blog

Police may have used illegal wiretaps in drug cases

Ohio readers may be interested in the story of hundreds of national wiretaps approved by a California county that may be ruled inadmissible because they were not properly approved by the district attorney as required by federal law. The violation could undermine up to 738 wiretaps used in drug cases as far away as Kentucky and Virginia.

Riverside County, which is a suburb of Los Angeles, approved nearly 20 percent of all U.S. wiretap requests in 2014. However, an investigation by USA Today and The Desert Sun discovered that hundreds of wiretap requests were reviewed by lawyers other than the county's district attorney. This is an apparent violation of a federal law that requires wiretap approvals to be personally requested by a top prosecutor to ensure the invasive measure is judiciously used. Congress enacted the law after the FBI secretly monitored civil rights leaders in the 1960s.

Jared Fogle sentenced to over 15 years for sex crimes

Ohio readers may be interested to learn that a federal court sentenced former Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle to more than 15 years in prison on Nov. 19 for child pornography and sex crimes. The 38-year-old father of two pleaded guilty to one count each of distribution and receipt of child pornography and traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor in August.

According to authorities, the former executive director of Fogle's nonprofit anti-obesity organization, The Jared Foundation, secretly filmed 12 minors as they changed clothes in his Indianapolis residences. He then sent some of the photos and videos to Fogle. Fogle also confessed to paying for sex with girls as young as 16. Court documents show that he paid for sex with two minor girls in New York.

Sex offender registry not "cruel and unusual" punishment

Many people in Ohio and other states are concerned about the presence of sex offenders in their community. There is a significant concern that these offenders will strike again, putting children and adults alike at risk. One way that lawmakers have combated perpetrators of sex crimes is by instituting public registries.

A sex offender registry is a searchable, online database that allows individuals to look up people who have been convicted of certain sex crimes. Typically, a person can either search for an individual by name or can enter in an address to find offenders living in the general area. As part of criminal sentencing, judges typically require offenders to visit a local law enforcement office to register their presence in the community. Listings frequently include the offender's name, photograph, address and details about the nature of the crime.

How alimony works

When Ohio couples are facing the end of a marriage, the issue of spousal support is often a consideration. Despite the fact that the couple may feel it's necessary to separate their lives, in some cases one spouse may have a need for short or long-term financial support from the other.

The factors that determine whether a spouse is entitled to alimony or is required to pay it vary. Judges may consider things like the length of the marriage, the health of each spouse, and whether each spouse is capable of supporting themselves. In some marriages, one partner serves as the breadwinner while the other takes care of the home and children. Those who don't have an employment history or marketable job skills may need financial support until they can complete job training and find suitable employment.

Same-sex parenting and controversial Utah ruling

Ohio parents should be aware of a Utah custody case that made national news after officials challenged a court ruling to remove an infant from the home of lesbian foster parents and place her with a heterosexual couple. The Utah Division of Child and Family Services reported that it would fight the ruling if the judge did not rescind the action. According to the agency, the judge went against the recommendation that the 9-month-old girl should be allowed to stay with the married couple from Price, Utah.

In his decision, the judge claimed that research shows children fare better when raised by heterosexual families. The American Psychological Association has countered this assertion, saying that there is no evidence that gay or lesbian parents are unfit based on sexual orientation. The transcript of the court decision was not released, possibly due to the fact that records of court cases involving foster children are often kept from the public record to protect the children. However, the judge subsequently reversed his decision and has since recused himself from the matter.

The implications of custody battles for children

Ohio families can go through a lot of stress in the midst of child custody battles. However, those familiar with the process indicate that such legal battles are often not really about the actual needs of children. Instead, custody battles involve parental beliefs about the best interests of a child. However, the parents battling for control in terms of parenting time and custody may be promoting their own interests rather than those of the children.

During a custody battle, it is the responsibility of the judge to use the facts of the case to determine the best interests of a child. Lawyers representing the parents are primarily charged with representing the interests of their clients, not those of the children. This means that lawyers mainly focus on introducing evidence that will advance their clients' positions, and they will endeavor to exclude negative evidence. Unfortunately, parents may spend so much time and energy focusing on their own goals that they fail to recognize the adverse impact on their children.

Marijuana felonies and misdemeanors

Marijuana remains illegal in Ohio after the most recent election in November 2015, but state residents may wonder exactly what the laws are. Possessing less than 3.5 ounces or giving someone else less than 20 grams of marijuana are minor misdemeanors for which individuals cannot be jailed. The maximum penalty is suspension of the driver's license for up to five years and $150 in fines.

For people to be charged with a felony, they must possess more than 200 grams of marijuana or more than 10 grams of hashish, or they must sell or give someone else more than 20 grams. Possessing more than 2 grams of liquid concentrate is also a felony. Individuals may face up to six months in prison and a three-year suspension of the driver's license for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Buckeyes quarterback charged with OVI

According to law enforcement authorities, Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett was charged with operating a vehicle while he was impaired by alcohol on Oct. 31. The charge led to his being suspending by the football team for one game.

Reportedly, Mr. Barrett, who is 20, failed a breathalyzer test. Police released him from their custody to a teammate. In 2014, Mr. Barrett scored 45 touchdowns, breaking the Big Ten record. He also placed fifth in the drive to win the Heisman Trophy.

Spouse of 90210 star faces nearly $50K in alimony arrearages

Although many Ohio residents remember Tori Spelling for her role in "Beverly Hills 90210", a more recent reality show addressed marital challenges between Spelling and spouse Dean McDermott. McDermott's infidelity in this relationship led to the reality show, in which the two publicly worked on sorting out their life together. However, McDermott's prior marriage may be further stressing the current one due to reported unpaid support to his former wife.

Reports indicate that McDermott owes alimony and child support of at least $45,000, noting that payments have lapsed since February 2015. However, he reports that he has no money, which may be supported by the fact that he and Spelling have moved to smaller homes on at least three occasions in the last two years. Further, the couple has been raising money by holding garage sales in recent months. Spelling and McDermott have four young children, and the obligation to other children along with a serious change in financial standing might be reason to seek a change in any formal support orders.

Drug crimes and the federal prison population

At times, it may seem that the War on Drugs is not doing enough to keep offenders off the streets of Ohio. However, the population of federal prisoners increased by 800 percent between 1980, when the increased attention to drug trafficking began, and 2012. Unfortunately, the rising prison population has created a stress on the resources needed to maintain these prisoners. Statistics indicate that at least half of federal prisoners are held because of drug activity, primarily trafficking.

In evaluating the existing population, it is helpful to identify demographic details that may provide insight into areas in which reform could be made. For example, more than 30 percent of drug offenders have little prior history of criminal activity. Reforms being considered by the nation's lawmakers and judicial system might provide judges with alternatives to incarceration for these individuals. More than 50 percent of the drug cases represented in the federal prison population involve some form of cocaine. Marijuana is only an issue in one of every eight cases. With changing laws related to the medical and recreational use of marijuana, these numbers may decrease as access to the substance is altered in some states.

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