The Victim Assistance Program assists victims of the following misdemeanor crimes:
- Domestic Violence
- Menacing by Stalking
- Aggravated Menacing/Menacing
- Child Endangering
- Violation of a Protection Order
- Intimidation of a Crime Victim or Witness
- Sexual Imposition
- Operating a Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
- Telephone Harassment
- Aggravated Trespass
- Negligent Homicide
- Vehicular Homicide
Ohio law states “No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member; No person shall recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member; No person, by threat of force, shall knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.”
A violation of Domestic Violence of the first degree is punishable by the maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. A violation of Domestic Violence of the fourth degree is punishable by the maximum penalty is up to thirty days in jail and up to a $250.00 fine.
Domestic Violence Safety Plan: Not all of the points below will apply to your situation. Choose the suggestions that make sense for you.
- Identify a variety of ways to get out of your home safely and practice using your escape route.
- Pack a bag with medications/medical records, important documents, i.e. social security cards, birth certificates, drivers’ license/registration, school and vaccination records, one checkbook, credit/ATM card; Make duplicate keys, (house, car and office); Pack clothes, divorce papers, items of sentimental value and children’s favorite toys; and hide the bag. Consider changing the hiding spot if the abuser searches your home.
- Arrange a signal with neighbors to let them know when you need help (turning on a porch light during the day, pulling down a particular window shade).
- Devise a code word to use with your children, grandchildren, friends or others to indicate that you need the police.
- Devise a safety plan for your children including the following when violence occurs: 1.) Find a safe place in your house away from the violence. 2.) Never try to stop the fight because you could get hurt. 3.) Call 911 for help, tell the dispatcher where you are, your address and what is happening in your home. Leave the phone off the hook if you are unable to talk so the dispatcher can hear what is happening.
- Decide and plan where you will go if you have to leave (even if you don’t think you will need to go).
- Use your instinct and judgment to safely assess what to do next.
- If you have a protection order, give a copy to your friends and employer, and always keep a certified copy with you.
Menacing by Stalking
Ohio law states “No person, by engaging in a pattern of conduct, shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person.”
“Pattern of conduct” means two or more actions or incidents closely related in time whether or not there has been a prior conviction based on any of those actions or incidents. “Mental distress” means any mental illness or condition that involves some temporary substantial incapacity or mental illness or condition that would normally require psychiatric treatment.
A violation of Menacing by Stalking is a misdemeanor of the first degree in which the maximum penalty is up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. A second or subsequent offense is a felony of the fifth degree, with a sentence of 6 to 12 months in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.
Actions to Take Against the Stalker
- Document everything. Include date, time, and a description of the incident, names of witnesses, and any action you take. Even though a single incident alone may not be serious, the documentation will show a pattern if there are future incidents.
- Talk to witnesses to determine whether they will testify in court if necessary.
- Notify law enforcement of each incident. Keep police informed even if the stalker’s action is not illegal. When you report each incident, tell the police to log your call. This may serve as important documentation later.
- Explore the legal remedies available in Geauga County. Contact your local advocacy centers for assistance or find an attorney who is familiar with stalking and who is sympathetic to your situation. (Insert Link to Services Page.)
- Have your attorney send a registered letter telling the stalker he or she must stop the behavior immediately, and that you are working closely with the police to secure his arrest if he/she continues to stalk you.
- Consider obtaining a protection order if the stalker continues the behavior.
- Inform all of your neighbors, co-workers, and the receptionist and security staff where you live or work. Prepare them for the possibility that the stalker may look for you there, and ask them to support you. Do the same with the key people in the organizations to which you belong. The moment that the stalker shows up in a work or social setting is not the time to explain the situation. The stalker will adopt his or her most friendly demeanor, thereby discrediting the victim.
- Give a photograph of the stalker, if you have one, or a description to anyone who might ever see him.
- Write down the license number and the description of the stalker’s vehicle. Give this to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and police.
- Keep a camera handy. If the stalker comes near you, take a picture which will serve as proof that he was in your vicinity.
- Consider purchasing or renting a surveillance camera. These can be strategically placed inside your home or apartment to film the areas around your doors and car, where stalkers are likely to leave gifts or letters. A filmed record of activities will help with legal action.
- Consider installing a home security alarm system.
Drunk driving has many far-reaching effects. In 2009, an estimated 10,839 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in the United States-an average of one every 50 minutes. These deaths constitute 28 percent of the 38,808 total traffic fatalities nationwide. Drunk driving greatly affects our own community as well. In 2009 there were 1021 total traffic related deaths in Ohio, 324 (or 32%) of which were alcohol-related deaths. (Source-National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010 and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) website statistics for 2009.)
We don’t always consider the many physical, emotional, and financial effects of non-fatal drunk driving crashes in our community. Surviving victims of drunk driving crashes cope with serious physical and closed-head injuries, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and sometimes, insurmountable financial devastation. They can often be overlooked in the criminal justice system.
Drunk driving with a child in the vehicle is another widely overlooked crime. Endangering Children (Ohio Revised Code 2919.22) makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle with one or more children in the car while under the influence of alcohol or a drug of abuse. Child victims of this crime need and deserve a voice in the criminal justice system.
The Victim Assistance Program provides support and advocacy to drunk driving crash victims and endangering children victims and strongly encourages crime victims to access the many services offered by MADD. You can reach them at 800-GET-MADD (800-438-6233). Visit the MADD Website for more information.