In a previous article, I explained the basics of Federal sentencing in the health care fraud context. Here, I will outline the basics of criminal sentencing in Ohio.
To provide context for Ohio sentencing, I will use Ohio’s Medicaid Fraud statute, which provides for penalties depending on the dollar value of the fraud. In Ohio, misdemeanors and felonies increase in severity or by “degrees” based on a numerical scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the most severe. For misdemeanors, the lowest degree is referred to as a minor misdemeanor instead of fifth degree misdemeanor.
Jail versus Prison
Jail and prison are both places of incarceration, but they are not the same thing. Jails are run by political subdivisions like counties or cities. For the most part, people are held in jails after arrest, or if they don’t make bail, or if they are serving a misdemeanor sentence. Prisons are residential facilities used for the confinement of convicted felony offenders, run by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, in places such as Grafton, Mansfield, Lucasville, and the women’s facility in Marysville.
Prison or Probation
In Ohio, sanctions other than prison or jail are referred to as “community control” sanctions, which can include probation, house arrest, and more. Community control versus incarceration depends on the crime, the client’s criminal history, and the facts of the case. Here are a few basic principles to understand about Ohio Criminal Sentencing in the context of health care fraud or other non-violent offenses:
Judges are required to consider community control sanctions before imposing a jail term. A court may impose the maximum jail term only upon those who commit the worst forms of the offense, or whose criminal histories show the need for deterrence.
For 4th or 5th Degree Felonies:
Community control will be ordered instead of prison, unless certain aggravating factors are found.
For 3rd Degree Felonies:
It could go either way. The judge must consider many statutory factors, some subjective, some objective.
Judicial Release and Parole
There are two main (and legal) ways to leave prison before serving an entire sentence in Ohio: judicial release and parole. Judicial release is considered by the sentencing judge. Parole is considered by the Ohio Parole Board.
Good Time Credit or Good Behavior Credit
Yes, there is such thing as good time credit or credit for good behavior in Ohio. For those who participate in constructive programs and adhere to strict standards of performance while in prison, monthly credits may be earned and accumulated. The credit will not be allowed to exceed 8% of the total number of days in the person’s stated prison term.
For those working in the health care industry, there are additional consequences to criminal convictions that affect licensing, credentialing and more. If you are a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional, you should seek counsel from an attorney knowledgeable in both criminal law and health care law. This is true whether the crime is health care related or not.
Chapman Law Group is a firm focused exclusively on the needs of health care professionals. Attorney Laura Perkovic has many years of experience in Ohio criminal defense from cases ranging from DUIs to murder. Additionally, as a former health care fraud prosecutor, she has extensive experience in health care-related crimes and now focuses her practice on defending doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals. The Chapman Law Group health care fraud team handles cases in many courts throughout the nation. It is wise to consult with an experienced legal team as soon as government investigators make contact with you or your business, in order to understand your rights, obligations, and exposure.