COLUMBUS – Today, Senators Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Lou Gentile (D- Steubenville) gave sponsor testimony on Senate Bill 178, which allows increased penalties for individuals who inflict serious physical harm on children under the age of 13.
“This legislation would give prosecutors and judges the ability to impose stronger penalties for the most severe cases of child abuse,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Judges would still have discretion to apply the most appropriate punishment for each individual case, but this bill sends a clear message that child abusers will spend more time behind bars when they are convicted.”
The most serious charge available for child abuse cases that do not result in death is felonious assault. Felonious assault convictions typically result in 2-8 years in prison, but this term can be – and often is – shortened if the individual exhibits good behavior. S.B. 178 would allow prosecutors to argue for an additional sentence based on the age of the victim and severity of the injury. Under this legislation, prosecutors could pursue a mandatory prison term of 1-5 additional years for certain offenders who cause severe physical harm to a child under 13 years of age.
“Our goal is to keep violent abusers off the streets and away from defenseless children,” said Senator Gentile. “We believe this bill strikes an important balance – punishing those who commit heinous acts against our children while maintaining judicial discretion.”
The bill received its first hearing today in Criminal Justice committee, and will now await a second hearing.