Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Sex Offender’s Case Is Sent Back by Third District Appeals Court

The Third District Court of Appeals has ruled that the wrong law was applied to a man classified as a sex offender.

The three-judge panel agreed with Bobby Panning that he should not have been classified last October as a tier III sex offender under the Adam Walsh Act after he pleaded guilty to sexual battery of a child in Van Wert County. The sexual assault allegedly happened in 2002, five years before the Adam Walsh Act replaced Megan’s Law.

Judge Richard Rogers cited several Ohio Supreme Court rulings, including the 2011 case State v. Williams, when he wrote: “Unlike Megan’s Law, the Court found that the Adam Walsh Act could not be applied to ‘any offender who committed an offense prior to [its] enactment.’ Megan’s Law is still in effect for any offense committed before the effective date of the Adam Walsh Act.”

Panning was already serving an 18-year prison sentence for an unrelated rape in Paulding County, and the Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas court imposed consecutive sentences when it gave him an additional five years. Judge Rogers found that the trial court did not make the required findings in order to make that decision.

“Nowhere in the record did the trial court find any of the factors required by R.C. 2929.14(C). Instead, the trial court merely stated, both at the hearing and in its judgment entry that the sentence is to run consecutively to Panning’s current sentence,” Judge Rogers said. “Without any of the required findings in the record, Panning’s sentence is improper.”

Judges Vernon Preston and John Willamowski joined Judge Rogers in the decision to send the sentencing and classification issues back to the lower court to make “the proper findings.”

State v. Panning, 2014-Ohio-1880
Criminal Appeal From: Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed and remanded
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: May 5, 2014

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