In 2005, a seventeen-year old girl named Shynerra Grant was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Antonio. She had just graduated high school in Toledo, Ohio, and was heading to college in the fall. Shynerra had been stalked by her ex-boyfriend for more than a year before she was murdered. Antonio stalked and abused Shynerra, including an incident in May 2004 when he broke into her home and put her in the hospital with a broken jaw. At the time an adult could obtain a Civil Stalking Protection Order (CSPO), but it was almost impossible for minors to get that same protection if the aggressor was another minor.
In March 2010, the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation that would confront this issue. House Bill 10, named the Shynerra Grant Law, was sent to Governor Strickland for his signature. The Governor signed the bill into law and it will become effective on June 17, 2010. The law is designed to allow a minor to go to his or her local juvenile court to obtain a protection order in certain situations. A teen who is the victim of harassing, stalking, or threatening behavior by another teen, now has the option of going to court to get protection. Once the order is in effect a teen can be immediately arrested for violating the order. No longer will that teen be able to call the individual or go to his or her house. Punishment for violating the order can include house arrest or electronic home monitoring.
The procedure is similar to what has existed for adult CSPO’s for some time. A person may go to the court and ask for a temporary ex parte order. Basically, this hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to grant the order until a full hearing can be held. The individual who is seeking the order is typically the only party present, and the person accused of the unlawful behavior is not generally there for an ex parte hearing. Following the ex parte hearing a temporary order may be issued. If this happens, the matter will be set for a full hearing where the defendant has the right to be present and has certain due process rights that are triggered; such as the right to counsel, right to cross-examine witnesses, etc. The right to counsel is discretionary under the law. The protection order may last for a certain period of time but may not last beyond the defendant’s nineteenth birthday. A party seeking a protection order against someone older than nineteen must seek relief in the Common Pleas Court as was the procedure before.
The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Edna Brown, said, “The current law, which allows judges to issue no-contact orders to juveniles, is basically useless. This new law will save lives, where juveniles will be able to be protected from persons who would cause them harm.”
Hopefully, the enactment of this law prevents instances of teen dating violence. One study by the Columbus Dispatch in November 2009, found that teenagers in Ohio were twice as likely to be victims of dating violence as they were likely to be injured in a car accident. That being said, the same potentials for abusing the system now exist where a teen may be falsely accused. If either you or a child of yours is experiencing instances of harassing, stalking, or threatening behavior, or your child has been accused of this type of conduct and is the subject of a temporary protection order of this nature, it is essential that you consult with an attorney immediately.
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