No-Contest Pleas in Misdemeanor Cases Must Include an Explanation of the Facts, or the Defendant Should be Acquitted - DUI News - 7/21/2016

The 8th District concluded that, absent an explicit waiver in a misdemeanor case, a trial court must call for an explanation of the facts.  If it does not, and the Defendant appeals, the charge should be dismissed and the Defendant acquitted due to double jeopardy protections.

City of Berea v. Moorer, 2016 Ohio 3452 (8th Dist).

June 16, 2016

Moorer was charged with an OVI and other traffic violations.  With counsel, she entered a no-contest plea to the OVI in exchange for dismissal of some of the other traffic violations.  When entering the plea, Moorer's counsel explained, "No contest, your Honor. We stipulate to the facts and [finding] of guilt[ ]."  Moorer subsequently appealed; however, arguing that the court did not call for an explanation of the circumstances as required by R.C. 2937.07.

R.C. 2937.07 provides: "A plea to a misdemeanor offense of "no contest" or words of similar import shall constitute an admission of the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint and that the judge or magistrate may make a finding of guilty or not guilty from the explanation of the circumstances of the offense."  The 8th District reviewed that the Ohio Supreme Court has held that, "The question is not whether the court could have rendered an explanation of circumstances sufficient to find appellant guilty based on the available documentation but whether the trial court made the necessary explanation in this instance."

The 8th District concluded that there was no explicit waiver of a reading of the facts and circumstances.  As a result, it held granted Moorer's appeal.  Furthermore, the 8th District concluded that double jeopardy attached and therefore Moorer was acquitted of the OVI offense.