Senate Also Passes Bill Increasing Penalties for Theft by Elected Officials

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced the Senate's passage of legislation which would increase penalties associated with repeat violations of a protection order.

Too often an individual who violates a protection order will continue menacing the victim who sought the order because the offender is likely to only receive a misdemeanor for the violation.

Senate Bill 171 addresses this problem by increasing the penalty for violating a protection order if the offender has one or more prior convictions of that offense or another specified offense. Under current law, the penalty for violating a protection order generally is a first degree misdemeanor. This proposal would allow the penalty to be increased up to a third degree felony, depending upon the number of prior violations.

“This bill will better protect victims who have been repeatedly threatened or abused," said Obhof, who co-sponsored the bill. "Offenders who knowingly violate terms of a protection order will be given harsher penalties and possible incarceration."

Senate Bill 171 now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.

In other news, Obhof also announced the passage of Senate Bill 268, a bill he co-sponsored to increase penalties for theft in office by elected officials. Since 2010, roughly 135 former public officials across Ohio have received criminal convictions for stealing tax payer dollars.

"This bill helps ensure that anyone in elected office who abuses the trust of the people that elected them will be held accountable," said Obhof.

Currently, penalties for theft in office are capped at a third degree felony for all amounts of loss greater than $7,500. This legislation will increase the penalties to an F-2 for stolen amounts between $150,000 and $750,000 and an F-1 for amounts of loss greater than $750,000.

The legislation would also maintain that anyone who is found guilty of theft in office would be disqualified from holding any future public office, employment or position of trust in the state. In addition to stricter punishments, the bill would explicitly permit the cost of a public audit used to determine the amount of loss to be ordered as part of restitution when the victim is a public entity.

Senate Bill 268 will now go to the House for further consideration.