Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Fifth District: Housekeeper Didn’t Need Prosecutor’s Approval to Receive Drug Treatment

A woman accused of stealing drugs from a Newark home she cleaned can undergo treatment even without the prosecutor's approval, an Ohio appeals court ruled this week.

The Licking County prosecutor argued that an earlier sealed conviction makes an offender ineligible for treatment rather than conviction unless the state approves the step. The Fifth District Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the prosecutor had no veto power over the decision to allow the housekeeper to receive “intervention in lieu of conviction.”

Housekeeper Charged With Theft of Drugs
While working at a Newark residence in April 2014, Shelly M. Boehm allegedly stole “numerous pills containing amphetamines.” Boehm was charged with theft of dangerous drugs, a fourth-degree felony, and pleaded not guilty.

At a court hearing in August 2016, the prosecutor stated that Boehm had two prior felony theft convictions in the last five years. Boehm responded that her earlier convictions were one felony and one misdemeanor stemming from the same incident. The trial court ruled that Boehm’s earlier convictions, which were sealed, didn’t disqualify her from eligibility for intervention in lieu of conviction, as provided in R.C. 2951.041. The statute notes that if an offender fails to comply with the intervention plan, the court will impose the appropriate sentence for the crime.

The prosecutor appealed the decision to the Fifth District.

Court Determines Housekeeper Qualifies for Treatment
In the Fifth District’s unanimous ruling June 14, Judge Patricia A. Delaney wrote that the trial court indicated Boehm was eligible for treatment under the R.C. 2951.041 as an “offender [who] previously has not been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony offense of violence.” Though the appeals court wasn’t provided with the prior conviction or record of the sealing of the conviction, Boehm acknowledged that her sealed conviction was a non-violent felony offense.

The appeals court noted that, based on the statute, a trial court may consider an earlier sealed conviction in this type of case. The trial court considered Boehm’s sealed conviction, along with a recommendation from the probation department, and found Boehm eligible for treatment, Judge Delaney explained.

While the prosecutor argued that state law allows prior convictions, even sealed ones, to be introduced in any criminal proceeding, the Fifth District ruled that a court proceeding for intervention in lieu of conviction is a special proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil. The law cited by the prosecutor creates no prosecutorial veto to intervention in lieu of conviction and doesn’t apply to this case, Judge Delaney concluded.

Judges William B. Hoffman and Earle E. Wise Jr. joined the opinion.

State v. Boehm, 2017-Ohio-4285.

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