COLUMBUS—The Ohio Senate passed legislation today that would strengthen existing laws so that offenders who avoid service of a protection order and knowingly violate the terms of the order can be prosecuted.

Sponsored by State Senators Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park), the legislation would overturn an Ohio Supreme Court ruling (State v. Smith-2008-1781) which determined that current statute does not permit prosecution in cases where the offender knowingly violated a protection order but did not receive formal service prior to the violation.

"Eliminating such loopholes in the existing law will help protect victims and better equip law enforcement to deal with these offenders who evade delivery of protection orders," said Manning.

In the State v. Smith ruling, the Court decided that a potentially violent offender was not properly served with a protection order even though he had been shown an actual copy of the order.  The case stemmed from a dispute between a man and a woman in the Columbus area.  After a protection order had been issued against him by the court, the man approached the victim at her place of residence. At that time, she physically showed the order to the man and indicated that he could not be near her. The following day, he broke into the victim’s house and assaulted her. 

The offender was originally convicted of violating the protection order. However, on appeal, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that even though the offender was aware of the protection order, he could not be charged with violating the order because he was not formally served by law enforcement prior to the break-in incident. Senate Bill 7 would ensure that violators of protection orders may be charged if the prosecution can establish that the violator knowingly violated its terms. 

Senate Bill 7 now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives where it will receive further consideration. 
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