Through Ohio’s transfer or “bindover” processes, children as young as fourteen can be transferred to adult court for prosecution as an adult. And, for children who commit certain offenses at age sixteen or seventeen, transfer is mandatory. That means that there are hundreds of people serving adult prison sentences for acts they committed as children. There is a growing body of U.S. Supreme Court and Ohio-specific precedent that governs these cases. The information provided here is designed to provide support and resources for attorneys practicing in this specialized area of law.
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court instituted a categorical bar against imposing the death penalty on those who were under 18 at the time of their offenses. Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005). Since then, the Court has repeatedly emphasized that a case that carries the possibility of a Life without Parole (LWOP) sentence is the equivalent of a capital proceeding for an adult. Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010) and Miller v. Alabama __ U.S. __, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012). This means that mitigation becomes a critical stage of the proceedings for any child facing the possibility of LWOP, or even a long adult sentence in adult court. This section is designed to provide resources and information for attorneys representing children in these cases.