Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook
Reproduced with permission from
David L. Strait and the Franklin County Public Defender Office
Also see Venue;
Law Enforcement Officers;
Indictments and Complaints.
Subject matter jurisdiction
R.C. 2901.11 -- Criminal law jurisdiction.
Revised Code Chapter 2931 -- Jurisdiction;
R.C. 2938.10 -- Territorial jurisdiction of
Subject matter jurisdiction
Bagley v. Bagley,
181 Ohio App. 3d 141,
2009-Ohio-688 – Concurring opinion bemoans the trend towards "jurisdictionalizing"
error. At ¶44: "I sense that I am a voice in the wilderness, but the tendency to
denigrate the efficacy and finality of judicial orders and judgments by treating
them as void, and not merely voidable, when they are erroneous is, in my view, a
serious problem that will only get worse as more and more kinds of error are
determined to implicate subject-matter jurisdiction. In this connection, it is
worth recalling that the subject-matter jurisdiction of the courts of common
pleas in this state is the exclusive province of the General Assembly…"
State v. Yarbrough, 104 Ohio St. 3d 1,
2004-Ohio-6087 -- Students were abducted from Ohio but murdered in Pennsylvania. Based on a continuing course of conduct the Ohio court would have
had venue, but it did not have jurisdiction over a homicide committed in another
state. R.C. 2901.11(B) requires the act that causes death, or the physical
contact that causes death, or the death itself take place in Ohio. Error was
missed by prosecutor, defense counsel and the trial judge. Subject matter
jurisdiction cannot be waived. Nor may the defendant be tried for complicity. The
express limitation on jurisdiction in homicide cases trumps broader language in
the complicity statute.
Pratts v. Hurley, 102 Ohio St. 3d 81,
2004-Ohio-1980 -- Syllabus: "The failure of a court to convene a three-judge
panel, as required by
R.C. 2945.06, does not constitute a lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction that renders the trial court's judgment void ab initio and subject
to collateral attack in habeas corpus. It constitutes an error in the court's
exercise of jurisdiction that must be raised on direct appeal."It was error for
a single judge to enter a plea in a capital case before a single judge, but that
error was waived by the failure to appeal. Also see In re
J.J., 111 Ohio St. 3d 205,
2006-Ohio-5484 (transfer order beyond the authority of a magistrate rendered
judgment voidable but not void); State ex rel. Rash v.
Jackson, 102 Ohio St. 3d 145,
Kelley v. Wilson, 103
Ohio St. 3d 201,
State ex rel. Mason v. Griffin, 104
Ohio St. 3d 279,
2004-Ohio-6384 -- Writ of prohibition issued to prevent common
pleas court judge empaneling a jury to determine facts related to imposition of
an additional term as a major drug offender. The Ohio Constitution does not
confer jurisdiction on the courts of common pleas. The legislature has not
authorized the use of a jury in determining sentencing issues. If the judge sees
a Blakely problem, the remedy is to hold portions of the sentencing
statutes unconstitutional and sentence under the valid portions. Court expresses
no opinion on the applicability of Blakely to the sentencing of major
State ex rel. Mayer v. Henson, 97 Ohio St.
2002-Ohio-6323 -- In 2001 a Common Pleas Court judge put on a nunc pro
tunc entry altering the sentence he imposed in 1983 to net the defendant the
amount of time he intended be served instead of the actual time to be served at
the discretion of the Adult Parole Authority. Prosecutor's complaint in mandamus
and prohibition was dismissed by the court of appeals. Supreme Court reverses,
strongly indicating that the judge did not have jurisdiction to alter his prior
In re Burton S. (1999), 136 Ohio App. 3d
386 -- Subject matter and personal jurisdiction distinguished: Subject matter
jurisdiction may be raised at any time, including when it is raised for the
first time on appeal. But the filing of a complaint alleging delinquency gives
the juvenile court subject matter jurisdiction. By contrast, personal
jurisdiction may be waived unless raised in the trial court. Unless age is an
essential element of the predicate adult crime, it is not a matter which must be
proved at the adjudicatory hearing.
Columbus v. Spignola (2001), 144 Ohio App.
3d 76 -- (1) At p. 79, fn. 1: Issues concerning subject matter jurisdiction are
not waived and will be considered by a reviewing court even if objections were
not raised in the trial court. Also see In re Morehead (1991), 75 Ohio
App. 3d 711, 715; Breidenbach v. Mayfield (1988), 37 Ohio St. 3d 138,
139. (2) The Home Rule Amendment to the Ohio Constitution does not bar
enforcement of a municipal ordinance on state property, here the grounds of the
Burke v. Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
(2000), 114 Ohio Misc. 2d 46 -- Failure to file a notice of appeal from a BMV
license suspension with that agency as well as the Common Pleas Court deprives
the court of subject matter jurisdiction.
Thacker, Lawrence App. No. 04CA5,
2004-Ohio-3978 -- Common pleas court's jurisdiction to
accept guilty plea derived from the complaint. Subject matter
jurisdiction did not depend on complaints initially filed in
municipal court. Also see Foston v. Maxwell
(1964), 177 Ohio St. 74, 76.
Schooler, Greene App. No. 2003 CA 65,
2004-Ohio-2430 -- Municipal court judge mistakenly accepted
a plea to carrying concealed weapons after being misinformed by
the bailiff that it was a misdemeanor. The court did not have
subject matter jurisdiction because the weapon was a loaded
firearm. Therefore subsequent felony prosecution was not barred
by double jeopardy.
State v. Wilson (1995), 73 Ohio St. 3d 40,
46 -- "The issue of a court's subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived. A
party's failure to challenge a court's subject matter jurisdiction cannot be
used, in effect, to bestow jurisdiction on a court when there is none."
State v. Swiger (1998), 125 Ohio App. 3d
456 -- While a judgment is void if a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it
is merely voidable if the court has subject matter jurisdiction, but exercised
it erroneously. Defendant claimed capital case had to be tried to a three judge
panel, and that court did not have jurisdiction if case was tried to a single
State v. Pless (1996), 74 Ohio St. 3d 333
-- Syllabus: "(1) In a criminal case where the defendant elects to waive the
right to trial by jury,
R.C. 2945.05 mandates that the waiver must be in
writing, signed by the defendant, filed in the criminal action and made part of
the record thereof. Absent strict compliance with the requirements of
2945.05, a trial court lacks jurisdiction to try the defendant without a jury. (State
v. Tate , 59 Ohio St. 2d 50...and State ex rel. Jackson v. Dallman
, 70 Ohio St. 3d 261...construed and applied. (2) The failure to comply
with R.C. 2945.05 may be remedied only in a direct appeal from a criminal
conviction. (State v. Tate , 59 Ohio St. 2d 50...and State ex
rel. Jackson v. Dallman
, 70 Ohio St. 3d 261...and State ex rel Larkins v. Baker , 73
Ohio St. 3d 658...harmonized." Also see State v. Ward (1996), 114 Ohio
App. 3d 72 where Pless was followed. Though a signed waiver was in the
appellate record, it had not been file stamped.
State ex rel. Jackson v. Dallman (1994),
70 Ohio St. 3d 261 -- When a properly executed waiver of the right to trial by
jury does not appear in the file, a court is without jurisdiction to conduct a
bench trial. Writ of habeas corpus granted. Affidavit by the prosecutor that the
defendant signed a waiver is of no consequence. Also see State ex rel.
Jackson v. McFaul (1995), 73 Ohio St. 3d 185.
State v. Miller (1988), 47 Ohio App. 3d
113 -- Headnote 2: "A municipal court does not acquire competent jurisdiction in
a criminal case when the complaint and affidavit are not properly signed by the
complainant." But jeopardy did not bar second trial on properly executed
New Albany v. Dalton (1995), 104 Ohio App.
3d 307 -- Court lacks jurisdiction when the complaint is not properly sworn.
Since the issue goes to jurisdiction, it is not waived if not raised through
pretrial motion. Complaint was not sworn before mayor as purported. Mayor's
signature was by means of a rubber stamp. Claim that complaint was sworn before
a notary was not substantiated by acknowledgement of notary on the complaint.
State ex rel. Koren v. Grogan (1994), 68
Ohio St. 3d 590 -- Though appeal might have furnished a remedy had the trial
court determined its jurisdiction, "a writ of prohibition will issue where there
is a patent and unambiguous restriction on the jurisdiction of the court which
clearly places the dispute outside the court's jurisdiction."
State v. Williams (1993), 86 Ohio App. 3d
37 -- Trial court did not have jurisdiction to hear motion for new trial filed
after the notice of appeal was filed. Court of appeals had jurisdiction to
determine the appeal, which would have been obviated had the motion been
granted. Also see State v. Richard
(1996), 113 Ohio App. 3d 141 (First plea vacated. New sentence still included
improper terms of probation.)
State ex rel. Jones v. Garfield Heights
Municipal Court (1997), 77 Ohio St. 3d 447 -- Defendant brought a
prohibition action challenging the jurisdiction of the municipal court where he
was charged with petty theft because the police report indicated that in
addition to the theft of $249 worth of beef he was charged with, he had also
stolen $89 worth of pork, taking the total over the $300 line between
misdemeanor and felony theft. Petition properly dismissed. Prosecutor acted
within his discretion.
State v. Atwood (1990), 61 Ohio App. 3d
650, 654 -- "When two separate offenses are set forth in a statute, Crim. R. 3
implicitly requires the complaint to set forth the specific subsection under
which the defendant is being charged." If it fails to do so, the court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. Compare State v. Broughton (1988), 51 Ohio
App. 3d 10 finding failure to specify a subsection not fatal if language of
complaint is sufficient to identify the subsection.
State v. Awan (1986), 22 Ohio St. 3d 120
-- Whether or not a provision is unconstitutional does not go to whether the
court has jurisdiction over the person or subject matter.
State v. Riggins (1980), 68 Ohio App. 2d 1
-- (1) Errors which deprive the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction are
not waived by the entry of a guilty plea. (2) Entry of a guilty plea does not
waive appeal of constitutional deficiencies in juvenile bindover proceedings.
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State v. Jacob, 185 Ohio App. 3d 408,
2009-Ohio-7048 – The Miamisburg Municipal Court issued a search warrant for
premises in San Mateo County, California.. The warrant was faxed to an officer
there who executed it and found the Hummel figurines listed. Back in Ohio, the
trial court initially overruled a motion to suppress, finding no fundamental
violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights because probable cause had
been demonstrated and a court with proper jurisdiction would have granted a
warrant if one had been sought. Later it found that probable cause had not been
established, but good faith reliance on the warrant saved the search. Reversed.
The Ohio court was utterly without jurisdiction to issue a warrant to search
premises in another state. The violation is so substantial it is tantamount to
structural error. Good faith does not apply.
State v. Fawcett, 91 Ohio St. 3d 1,
2000-Ohio-195 -- Syllabus: "Courts of appeals have jurisdiction to review
judgments entered by those inferior courts located within the territorial
boundaries of their appellate districts." Thus where a municipal court has
jurisdiction spreading over more than one county, appeal lies to the appellate
district within which the court sits.
Luman, 172 Ohio App. 3d 461,
2007-Ohio-2565 -- According to
R.C. 2151.353(J) the jurisdiction of a juvenile court
concerning a child residing in a different county in some
circumstances terminates a year after the last action in a case.
Mother who lived in county 1, sought unsuccessfully to regain
custody in county 2 where the child had been adjudicated
dependent. More than a year later she sought custody in county 3
where the child actually lived. Applying the statute, which is
deemed unambiguous, the court there erroneously dismissed the
mother's motion for want of jurisdiction. The court notes there
may still be an impediment based on a prior paternity action in
State v. Scott (1965), 3 Ohio App. 2d 239
-- Headnote 2: "A court will take judicial notice of the limits of its
jurisdiction and the extent of the territory therein included."
Columbus v. Roberts (April 27, 1989),
Franklin County App. Nos. 88AP-1023, 1024, unreported (1989 Opinions 1453) --
The Franklin County Municipal Court has jurisdiction over all cases arising
within the city limits of the City of Columbus, even those portions which are
outside Franklin County.
State v. Chintalpalli (2000), 88 Ohio St.
3d 43 -- Ohio court had jurisdiction to prosecute father for nonsupport, even
though he no longer lived in state, since support order arose form an Ohio
divorce. Venue was proper in the county where the divorce was granted.
State v. Kinney (1982), 7 Ohio App. 3d 234
-- Where a continuous course of conduct establishing an element of an offense
begins in Ohio, Ohio courts have jurisdiction, even though the bulk of the
proscribed conduct appear to have happened in another state. Also see State
v. Shrum (1982), 7 Ohio App. 3d 244.
State v. Kelly (1993), 89 Ohio App. 3d 320
-- Court finds Ohio trial court had jurisdiction to try rape which occurred in
Tennessee because it was part of a continuous, unbroken chain of events
beginning with an abduction in Ohio.
Cincinnati v. Dryden (1998), 91 Ohio Misc.
2d 235 -- For traffic violations on bridges across the Ohio River, Ohio courts
have jurisdiction only to the north of the geodetically determined position of
the north bank of the river when Kentucky became a state in 1792. Though both
states have jurisdiction over the river itself, this does not extend to bridges.
State v. Luna (1994), 96 Ohio App. 3d 207
-- An indictment must allege that the offense occurred within the jurisdiction
of the court.
Pepper Pike v. Garson (1997), 117 Ohio
App. 3d 473 -- Suburban officer followed speeder into a different suburb, and
following difficulties charged him with disorderly conduct under the ordinances
of his home suburb. Since town where the charges arose was not within the
jurisdiction of the municipal court hearing the case, the trial court lacked
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Cleveland v. Washington
Mutual Bank, 179 Ohio App. 3d 692,
2008-Ohio-6959 – Bank was sent summons for building and housing code
violations, but did not respond. Court devised a stratagem for trial in
absentia. Court finds that while there is a procedure for enforcing a response
to indictments, none is provided with respect to summons sent corporations, as
opposed to individuals. Nor is there a procedure provided for trial in absentia
in these circumstances. Affirmed: Cleveland v. Washington Mutual Bank,
125 Ohio St. 3d 541,
2010-Ohio-2219. Syllabus: “R.C.
2941.47 does not authorize a trial of a corporation in absentia in a
criminal proceeding that is initiated by affidavit or complaint in a municipal
Mohamed, 178 Ohio App. 3d 695,
2008-Ohio-5591 – Mother born in Somalia was charged as an
adult with kidnapping, felonious assault and child endangerment,
it being alleged she and her husband had used a hot fork to
discipline three children in their care. Her actual age was in
dispute. The state submitted documents indicating a January 1st
birthday which would have made her 18. The defense offered
testimony that the age provided in such documents could not be
relied upon, as documents prepared to permit emigration from
refugee camps was prepared by Somalis who did not speak the same
language as the Bantu refugees. There was a pattern of using
either January 1st or July 1st as the birthdate. To establish
jurisdiction the prosecutor had to establish age beyond a
reasonable doubt. Court did not abuse its discretion ordering
case transferred to the juvenile court.
State v. Garretson (2000), 140 Ohio App.
3d 554 -- Defendant was mistakenly let out of prison early by the Department of
Corrections. Prosecutor filed a motion in the trial court to have him taken back
to serve the rest of his time. Defendant showed up as a spectator at the
hearing, and was taken back to prison when the court granted the motion. Since
the original sentencing order was valid, "when Garretson was delivered to the
permanent detention facility, the authority of the judicial branch over
Garretson's sentence ended. Thereafter the trial court had no authority in the
motion proceeding before it to order that Garretson be returned to prison to
serve an additional eight months."
State v. Spriggs, 118 Ohio Misc. 2d 189,
2000-Ohio-2697 -- Common pleas court concludes local municipal court had
authority to issue a search warrant related to an aggravated murder case pending
in the common pleas court.
State v. DeSantis, Stark App. No.
2004CA00078 -- Defendant was charged with driving while under a FRA suspension
and vehicle was impounded. A judge signed an order permitting retrieval of
personal belongings from the vehicle. Impound lot operator permitted retrieval
only after defendant paid cost to date and signed over title of the vehicle.
Operator had not been made a party or served with a summons of complaint. Thus
trial court lacked in personam jurisdiction.
Hlavsa (2000), 139 Ohio App. 3d 871 -- A juvenile court
judge ordered granted permanent custody of children to a child
welfare agency, but was suspended from practice before the order
was journalized. Order was void. Order was not saved by
journalization by administrative judge acting as the court's ex
In re Kurtzhalz (1943), 141 Ohio St. 433
-- Syllabus: "(1) An appeal on questions of law brings before the appellate
court only the final order, judgment or decree sought to be reviewed. (2) As to
the remainder of the cause, the lower court retains all jurisdiction not
inconsistent with that of the appellate court to review, affirm, modify or
reverse the final order, judgment or decree from which the appeal has been
perfected. (Goode v. Wiggins, 12 Ohio St. 341, approved and followed.)"
State v. Watson (1975), 48 Ohio App. 2d
110, 113-114 -- Once an appeal has been taken the court may not dispose of the
case in such a manner as to negate the subject matter of the appeal or interfere
with the jurisdiction of the appellate court. The court granted a defense motion
to dismiss after prosecutor had appealed ruling on pretrial motion. Also see Vavrina v. Greczanik (1974), 40 Ohio App. 2d 129 [motion for relief from
judgment under Civil Rule 60(B)].
State v. Lett (1978), 58 Ohio App. 2d 45
-- The trial court retains jurisdiction to determine a motion for shock
probation while an appeal is pending. However, see State v. Delaney
(1983), 9 Ohio App. 3d 47 -- Court loses jurisdiction to hear shock motion if
does not rule within the prescribed 60 day period. Also see State v.
Ellington (1987), 36 Ohio App. 3d 76 -- Decision must be journalized within
the sixty day period.
State v. Addison (1987), 40 Ohio App. 3d 7
-- While R.C. 2929.51(A) permits the court to suspend sentence up until the time
the defendant is delivered into the custody of the institution, the court's
jurisdiction to suspend sentence and place a defendant on probation after that
time is limited to shock probation.
State v. Wobler (1983), 10 Ohio App. 3d
155 -- Court retains jurisdiction to order Sheriff to carry out terms of
sentence, specifically delivery of the defendant to the institution where
sentence is to be served.
State v. Justice (November 24, 1978),
Franklin Co. App. No. 78AP-601, unreported (1978 Opinions 3276) -- Even though
an appeal may be pending, the trial court retains jurisdiction to hear a post
conviction action attacking the same conviction.
State v. Flowers (March 26, 1981),
Franklin Co. App. No. 80AP-906, unreported (1981 Opinions 700, 702) -- "When an
affidavit of prejudice is filed against a common pleas judge pursuant to
2701.03, it has at least a temporary effect of depriving the trial judge of the
power to proceed on the case until such time as the affidavit of
disqualification has been ruled upon by the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme
Court or another Supreme Court judge designated by him. Cuyahoga Co. Bd. of
Mental Retardation v. Association
(1975), 47 Ohio App. 2d 28."
Whitehall v. Wolfe (1986), 27 Ohio App. 3d
357 -- Headnote: "There is no statutory provision authorizing a mayor's court to
laterally transfer a case to another court of concurrent jurisdiction."
(Here the Franklin County Municipal Court which had concurrent jurisdiction in
Hughes v. Scaffide (1978), 53 Ohio St. 2d
85 -- If an original action is filed within the original jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court or Court of Appeals (mandamus, habeas corpus etc.) these courts
cannot refuse to exercise that original jurisdiction under the doctrine of
forum non conveniens.
State v. Mackert (May 23, 1978), Franklin
Co. App. No. 77AP-922, unreported (1978 Opinions 1350) -- Following appeal to
the Ohio Supreme Court, the trial court regains jurisdiction after the Supreme
Court issues its mandate.
State v. Milo (1986), 28 Ohio App. 3d 60
-- Trial was moved to Franklin County from Summit County but subsequent motion
for a new trial was filed in Summit County. Though Franklin County may have been
the proper place to file the motion, jurisdiction of the court of appeals is
determined by the county of actual filing and appeal from Summit County Court of
Common Pleas does not lie to the Franklin County Court of Appeals.
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