A shooting in West Columbus resulted in multiple arrests by the police. According to the news report, a police sergeant on a routine patrol on Sullivant Avenue at Columbia Avenue heard gunfire around 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.
Upon investigation, the officer witnessed individuals from two vehicles in an alley firing guns at each other. One of the stray rounds hit the police sergeant’s vehicle. Bullets struck two other vehicles and two houses during the gunfight.
Officers were able to stop one of the vehicles at 2085 West Broad Street, after obtaining a description of the vehicle. Officers took two juveniles into custody on outstanding warrants. The police recovered two firearms at the scene.
The incident is still under investigation. It appears that no injuries occurred because of the incident, and police do not believe that the stray shot that hit the police cruiser was intentional.
Minors Cannot Purchase a Firearm in Ohio
The juveniles at the scene may face several weapons charges and other crimes because of the incident. The first is possessing a firearm illegally.
Ohio does not require residents to obtain a special permit or license to purchase or own a firearm. However, some people are not eligible to purchase a firearm in Ohio. Individuals who are not permitted to purchase a gun include:
- fugitives from the law
- individuals convicted for a felony drug charge
- chronic drug addicts and alcoholics
- individuals judged to be incompetent or mentally ill
- individuals convicted of violent crimes
- minors under the age of 18 years (for rifles and shotguns)
- minors under the age of 21 years (for handguns)
Because the individuals were not old enough to purchase a firearm, they are not permitted to carry a weapon in Ohio.
Minors Can Only Possess Firearms Under Certain Circumstances
Ohio law does not ban minors from possessing or using firearms in all situations. However, the use of firearms by minors is restricted and defined by statute.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, minors may only possess handguns or firearms for educational purposes and lawful sporting or hunting. Educational purposes may include marksmanship, instruction in firearm safety, and proper handling of firearms. The instruction, hunting, or sporting must be under the control or supervision of a responsible adult.
Improperly Discharging a Firearm
The minors may be charged with improperly discharging a firearm because the bullets hit a residence. According to ORC §2923.161, it is illegal to discharge a firearm at or into an occupied residence.
The news report does not state if the homes were occupied at the time of the shooting. If the homes were occupied, the minors might be facing this criminal charge in addition to other criminal charges. Improperly discharging a firearm is typically a second-degree felony that could result in up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Children as young as 14 years of age charged with a felony may have their cases transferred to adult court. When cases are transferred to adult criminal court, the minor could face the same penalties for the crime as an adult would face for a conviction.
What Should I Do If My Child is Charged with a Crime in Ohio?
Because Ohio criminal statutes carry severe punishments for convictions, it is crucial to seek immediate legal counsel for your child. An experienced juvenile defense lawyer can review the case and determine the best strategy to keep the case in juvenile court. The best thing that you can do for your child is to ensure your child does not answer any questions or provide statements without a lawyer present.
You want to keep a case in juvenile court whenever possible because the punishments for convictions are less severe compared to adult criminal court. The penalties for juvenile criminal convictions vary based on the seriousness of the crime, but may include:
- confinement to a juvenile detention center
- house arrest with electronic monitoring
- payment of restitution
- mandatory counseling
- mandatory school attendance
- suspension of driving privileges
- random drug and alcohol testing
- community service
Also, there may be alternatives for minors charged with crimes in Ohio. Some minors may be eligible for the Teen Court program.
The program has various requirements that must be met to remain in the program. A primary benefit of the program is avoiding a criminal sentence.
Avoiding a criminal sentence is one of the goals when defending a minor. A criminal record could restrict the choices a minor has regarding education and careers. Parents should focus on obtaining sound legal representation for their child to prevent a mistake from ruining their child’s future.