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Ohio (2023)

Am. Sub. S. B. No. 288 As Passed by the House                   

Sec. 2903 .18. (A) As used in this section:

(1) “Strangulation or suffocation” means any act that impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure to the throat or neck, or by covering the nose and mouth.

(2) “Dating relationship” has the same meaning as in section 3113.31 of the Revised Code.

(3) “Family or household member” has the same meaning as in section 2919.25 of the Revised Code.

(4) “Person with whom the offender is or was in a dating relationship” means a Person who at the time of the conduct in question is in a dating relationship with the defendant or who, within the twelve months preceding the conduct in question, has had a da ing relationship with the defendant.

(B) No person shall knowingly do any of the following:

(1) Cause serious physical harm to another by means of strangulation or suffocation;
(2) Create a substantial risk of serious physical harm to another by means of strangulation or suffocation;
(3) Cause or create a substantial risk of physical harm to another by means of strangulation or suffocation.

(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of strangulation.

(1) A violation of division (B) (1) of this section is a felony of the second degree.
(2) A violation of division (B) (2) of this section is a felony of the third degree.
(3) A violation of division (B) (3) of this section is a felony of the fifth degree. If the victim of the violation of division (B) (3) of this section is a family or household member or is a person with whom the offender is or was in a dating relationship, a violation of division (B) (3) of this section is a felony of the fourth degree. If the victim of the offense is a family or household member or is a person with whom the offender is or was in a dating relationship, and the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony offense of violence, or if the offender knew that the victim of the violation was pregnant at the time of the violation, a violation of division (B) (3) of this section is a felony of the third degree.

(D) It is an affirmative defense to a charge under division (B) of this section that the act was done as part of a medical or other procedure undertaken to aid or benefit the victim.

State v. Venters (2003) Ohio App. LEXIS 2535 Unpublished

Both the defendant and the victim were very drunk. He beat, strangled, and suffocated the victim. The victim couldn’t breathe. The victim bit him to the bone to get him off of her. He left and came back. The neighbor called the police. The police found both of them in the house, still drunk. The victim had scratches and contusions. The defendant had a long history of domestic violence. There was a misdemeanor trial at which the defendant denied everything. It was a “he-said-she-said” case where the judge believed the victim. The defendant appealed on the basis of insufficient evidence. The court of appeals discussed why it deferred to trial court findings from victim and witness testimony in particular.

State v. Smith, 2007-Ohio-5524, Unpublished

There was sufficient evidence of serious physical harm to support a conviction for felonious assault was established with only the testimony of the victim and an emergency room physician.

State v. Booker, 2009-Ohio-1039, Unpublished

The defendant hit the victim in the face. The victim fought back. The defendant picked the victim up and threw her against a brick wall. She did not move and was unresponsive for 2-3 minutes. When she woke up, he was choking her and threatening to kill her. She couldn’t breathe. An independent witness corroborated her version.

Temporary unconsciousness constitutes serious physical harm even though the victim she didn’t know if she lost consciousness or not, even though she did not seek immediate medical attention.

State v. Simmons, 2011-Ohio-6074, Unpublished

The defendant argued that the testimony of a forensic nurse exceeded her qualification in the areas of assault and domestic violence injuries because it was only based on observations and not scientific data. The trial and appellate court disagreed. The courts tend to focus on the method of coming to the expert opinion. Here, they found that the expert’s testimony here was helpful for the trier of fact.

State v. Snider, 2012-Ohio-2183, Unpublished

The defendant choked the victim. The daughter called 911, and the police arrived. The victim and witnesses were upset. Both provided written statements. The victim had bruising on her face and redness to her throat.

At trial, the victim testified for the defense. The victim recanted, and the daughter minimized. There were no expert witness and no medical treatment. The defendant was convicted by bench trial of misdemeanor domestic violence. The defendant claimed self defense; he claimed it didn’t happen and that it was too minor to show physical harm.

The 911 call tape was admissible as a spontaneous statement and non-testimonial. The judge did not believe the victim at trial. The conviction as upheld.

State v. Mansfield, 2016-Ohio-8189, ¶ 2, 69 N.E.3d 767, 769

The defendant was found guilty of manslaughter.

The brain needs a constant flow of oxygen. Here, the defendant’s actions prevented blood flow to the brain and prevented the victim from breathing enough oxygen. The defendant was denied an expert witness due to indigency status – even though there were sufficient funds at one time to pay for private counsel. There was a new trial.

State v. Tannreuther, 2014-Ohio-74, ¶ 6, Unpublished

The defendant was charged with attempted murder and multiple other charges but plead guilty to felonious assault and rape. The defendant was sentenced to 7 for assault and 10 years for rape consecutive. He claimed it was all one single act and state of mind. The court disagreed. His sentence was upheld.

The victim had redness, bruising, and a red spot on her face as well as hemorrhaging in her eye. The victim had blood on her shirt and torn panties.

The victim was strangled with a ligature (a cord from cell phone) until she lost consciousness, and urinated and defecated. The victim was raped. The victim had a protection order in place. The victim was taken to the hospital.

State v. Sargent, 2015-Ohio-704, ¶ 24, 29 N.E.3d 331, 335

The court found that there was an error that was not harmless where evidence of a prior unrelated domestic violence offense by strangulation was introduced.

State v. Carter, 2017-Ohio-5573, Unpublished

An ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend  met at a bar. They drank until two AM and took shots in the parking lot. Then the defendant wanted a ride home. The victim said no, and he got upset. The victim went home, and a friend followed her to make sure she was okay. When the friend left, the defendant showed up, attacked the victim, raped her, and choked her in the garage. The victim yelled for help, and the police arrived. The victim had her pants and underwear down to her knees.

The defendant denied the rape. There was a rape exam and a neck swab. The victim had no visible injuries to her neck.

A scientist testified about her conclusions regarding the defendant’s “touch DNA” on the victim. Specifically, she tested neck swabs taken from the victim and found that the defendant’s touch DNA was present. She testified that the amount of the defendant’s DNA found on the victim’s neck seemed like it was from more than just a casual brush, but she wasn’t certain.

The defendant claimed it was inappropriate to allow her testimony because she was not certain.

Expert witnesses in criminal cases can testify in terms of possibility rather than in terms of a reasonable scientific certainty or probability. But the strangulation charge was dismissed by the judge on defendant’s motion. (Officer and nurse were not trained in strangulation).

State v. Dozier (2017, Ohio) WL 2461971Unpublished 

The defendant strangled the victim repeatedly to loss of consciousness, urination, and sore throat. The victim yelled for help. Her neighbor was a witness. Police arrived and saw the defendant assaulting the victim. She had minor injuries. The officer followed Strangulation Protocol. The victim was transported to the hospital by an ambulance. There, they took a CTA of her neck. The results were unknown.

No medical testimony or expert called. Guilty to felony assault and domestic violence. Not guilty on aggravated menacing. The defendant was sentenced to 6 years.

State v. Plott, 2017-Ohio-38, 80 N.E.3d 1108

The defendant was convicted. The victim couldn’t provide testimony, but a witness testified to the choking and hitting of the victim. The state had a strangulation expert who testified that the marks on the victim’s neck were consistent with strangulation and that her story didn’t contradict the eyewitness story even if she couldn’t remember things. The expert was allowed to testify as an expert in strangulation. She had been a nurse for 29 years, had received training on strangulation, provided training on strangulation fifty times, had testified as an expert five times, and had examined forty to fifty strangled victims.

S.E.E. v. S.V.E., 2019-Ohio-4792, Unpublished

Strangulation is one of the factors in the Ohio Supreme Court’s Guide identified to demonstrate that a victim is in more danger of serious physical harm.

State v. Ryan, 2019-Ohio-5339

The defendant was convicted of felonious assault, domestic violence, and kidnapping and was sentenced to three years. The defendant appealed on sufficiency, and his conviction was upheld. The defendant beat and strangled the victim three times to the point of loss of consciousness and urination. The defendant also tried to throw her out of the car and threatened to kill her.

The defendant appealed on sufficiency. His conviction was upheld. The defendant beat and strangled the victim three times to the point of loss of consciousness and urination. The defendant also tried to throw her out of the car and threatened to kill her. The victim sought medical attention. A forensic nurse examined her and testified as an expert. The nurse had recently received strangulation training. There was no challenge to her testimony. It is important to look for internal injuries. Strangulation is very serious, and urination occurs after loss of consciousness.

The court understood that it was a traumatic situation and that she did not report every detail at the moment. She was seeking help and treatment. Her testimony was still credible.

State v. Conant, 2020-Ohio-4319, Unpublished

There was great investigation. There were statements from the victim. Training was evident in the investigative process. There were photos of the victim and the defendant from a body cam. The victim described her head as feeling weird like she’d been upside-down. She felt like her arms and legs shook like she was having a seizure.

An expert witness testified. Nonfatal strangulation can occur with very little visible injury. She described an altered state of consciousness. A loss of consciousness takes minutes. It can take a while to recover. Even though the victim denied losing consciousness, the expert believed she did based not he symptoms. It was unknown if a CTA was ordered.

State v. Williams, 2020-Ohio-3616, Unpublished

The expert witness here gave detailed, specific medical testimony.

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