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Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Licensed attorney with 29 yrs. exp. in criminal law
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Hey Marsha. Still working on my novel. So given that the year

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Hey Marsha. Still working on my novel. So given that the year is 1980, and the father is a single parent (mother deceased) and takes the kids sailing, gets drunk, and doesn't use good judgment with an approaching storm and they all get caught in the squall where the boat capsizes, one child (son, age 5) dies.
If the father is charged with Reckless Homicide and in the trial it is revealed that he had a drinking problem, physically abused daughter (age 11)(slapped her once in angry drunken state), but has no criminal record. Also, within 48 hours of the sailing tragedy, the older son (age 13) pulls a pistol on his father, blaming him for the younger son's death. The father overpowers him and turns the gun on the son, making threats, but does not shoot. In this possible scenario, here are my questions:
1. Would the charge toward the father for the death still be Reckless Homicide?
What would the other charges be called for physical abuse of the daughter and aiming a gun at this son while making threats?
2. If this went to trial and the father was convicted, would he lose the kids? And what kind of sentence would be typical for the charges and the 1980s (With Reckless Homicide your notes said it would be a felony of the third degree.
3. Would the son (age 13) be charged for pulling a gun on his father? What would a typical sentence be for that kind of thing with a minor--although I can see a jury being more sympathetic toward the son. Again, the time frame is 1980. I don't know how much things have changed in the last 30+ years in Ohio courts.
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Hello again,

1. The extra facts that you have added: "... he had a drinking problem, physically abused daughter (age 11)(slapped her once in angry drunken state), but has no criminal record. Also, within 48 hours of the sailing tragedy, the older son (age 13) pulls a pistol on his father, blaming him for the younger son's death," would normally not come into evidence at trial on the merits, so there wouldn't be any change in the likely charge or possible conviction. Even if the State had this information before trial, the charge wouldn't really change. That said, on sentencing his drinking history might be relevant, but the other issues wouldn't. It isn't likely that the assault on his daughter would be charged unless it just happened. This would be more an issue for custody purposes, than for charges. Again if it just happened, he would probably be charged with assault. That would be a misdemeanor though and usually only carry with it a possible sentence of 6 months in jail.

2. Again, as I mentioned in my initial response, custody would depend on many things. If he was imprisoned, he would lose custody at least temporarily. There is no information about the children's' mother. If there is no mother, then it is less likely that he would lose permanent custody. However, if the mother is available somewhere, then the issue is closer. She might get primary custody. The fact that he slapped his daughter and has a teenage son that pulled a gun on him, would be considered by the court when he does get out of prison for purposes of making a final custody determination. But just being convicted of reckless homicide will not automatically make him lose his kids permanently. Just too many factors to know.

3. The son would not be charged with pulling the gun on the father in this context. Under other contexts, for example his brother had not just died and he was just a troubled child, he might go through juvenile court and have to go to anger management course, but this really isn't a case where the State would be interested in filing a charge.

Let me know if I missed something or you have a follow up question. I would be glad to try to help further if I can.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Marsha this is very helpful! To clarify though, I did say that the mother is deceased so he is the only parent. Could you also give me an approximate prison timetable if the father was convicted of Reckless Homicide? So in other words if he lost custody during his prison sentence only, how long would that be hypothetically (1 year? 10?) just need an approximate timetable.
I'm sorry I missed that. So, it would be less likely that he would lose permanent custody unless there is more evidence of reckless or abusive conduct over a long period with his kids and there is a close family member, usually a grandparent willing to take custody.

Oddly enough Ohio law does not give a set length of time for a 3rd degree felony. There is a range though. The court can award 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 years. I am not sure why the law doesn't just read no more than 5 years for maximum punishment but it actually says 12 months, 24 months, etc. So, he could receive up to 5 years.
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 19878
Experience: Licensed attorney with 29 yrs. exp. in criminal law
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