Sierah’s Law created a statewide Violent Offender Database (VOD) that keeps a register of Ohioans convicted of certain crimes
The requirements of the law are quite burdensome. Anyone convicted of a qualifying offense must register and remain in the database for 10 years, and failure to comply could result in another felony charge.
It is possible to fight database enrollment. Immediate intervention and assistance from the experienced Ohio criminal defense lawyers at Graham & Graham can also help alleged offenders avoid serious convictions in the first place.
Offenders Who Must Register
Qualifying offenses include:
- Aggravated murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Abduction (as a 2nd degree felony)
- Any attempt, conspiracy, or complicity conviction for any of these offenses
How to Register
Offenders who are subject to the VOD duties imposed by Sierah’s Law must enroll in person at the sheriff’s office in the county where they live within 10 days of sentencing or release from incarceration. In addition, they must re-enroll annually, and must notify the sheriff’s office within three days of any address change. There is an initial $50 enrollment fee and an annual $25 renewal fee.
Anyone required to register in the VOD database who fails to do so could face a fifth degree felony, but offenders can file a motion to avoid enrollment.
Those convicted of a violent crime must comply with Sierah’s Law for 10 years. This period may be extended if the offender violates a term or condition of their original sentence (such as probation or parole), or commits a new felony or any violent misdemeanor offense. A violation of these requirements is a fifth degree felony.
The public does not have direct access to the database, which is maintained by Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Only authorized law enforcement officers may access it. But community members can request database information about ex-cons living near them from their local sheriff’s office.
One year after the law was passed, the VOD contained 804 records, according to the Ohio Attorney General. A Cleveland 19 News investigation found 930 registered felons as of November 1, 2021.
The VOD and Offenders’ Rights
Offenders may seek relief from all or some of burdens they face from VOD registration. They have the right to:
- Request that a court withhold any database information from the public if it poses a threat to their safety; and
- File a motion to avoid enrolling in the database.
Offenders, even if they are convicted of or plead guilty to a qualifying felony, may not have to enroll in the database if they can prove, by a preponderance of evidence—a greater than 50 percent chance that the claim is true—that they were not the principal offender.
The court considerers a number of factors when making this determination, including whether the offender has committed previous violent offenses, their degree of culpability or involvement in the underlying offense, and the public interest. A court hearing is held to consider if the offender should be required to enroll in the database.
Zanesville Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving Southeast Ohio
Your best chance of avoiding VOD database registration is to engage an experienced criminal defense law firm. Graham & Graham is a well-established firm with a track record of success in criminal cases. We are prepared to protect your rights and obtain the best outcome in light of the facts unique to your situation.
Our criminal defense attorneys can petition the court to remove your VOD registration requirement and represent you at a hearing. If you’re already enrolled, we can make a court filing requesting that your information be made private. Better yet, we can eliminate the need for offender registration by providing strong defense from the start.
Don’t delay engaging a criminal defense lawyer. These matters are time sensitive. Your freedom and your rights could be at stake. Contact Kris Hill at 740 454-8585 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.