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Ohio Supreme Court: Juvenile Crimes Cannot Enhance Adult Sentences

Ohio Supreme Court Gavel statue
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Ohio's Supreme Court has ruled that prior juvenile convictions cannot be used to increase the severity of charges or the length of prison sentences those individuals receive as adults. 

The justices ruled 4-3 Thursday that treating cases from juvenile court as prior convictions for adult-sentencing purposes is unconstitutional and "fundamentally unfair."

Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote that juvenile court proceedings are civil proceedings designed to protect the development of those under age 18 while they are rehabilitated. She wrote that adult felony sentences are intended to protect the public and punish offenders.

The ruling says prior juvenile convictions can't be used to enhance prison sentences of adults since children facing delinquency charges have no right to a jury trial.