COLUMBUS – The Ohio attorney general would have authority to investigate and prosecute vandalism and other crimes on state property, under legislation being introduced in the Ohio House.
The measure would cover not only the Ohio Statehouse, which has been damaged by protesters in recent weeks, but any property owned or leased by the state.
The legislation follows a series of protests which resulted in widespread damage to the Statehouse. WBNS-TV reported at least 59 charges stemming from recent protests in downtown Columbus had been dismissed by the Columbus city prosecutor. It is unclear if or when those charges would be refiled.
“I support the constitutional right of people to peacefully assemble and protest. That’s an important cornerstone of our democracy,” said LaRe (R-Violet Township). “But destruction and violence is a crime. And when crimes are not prosecuted, it sends the message that the criminal activity is not only condoned but endorsed.”
Currently, the attorney general is unable to investigate and prosecute criminal activity that takes place on state property. That would change under the bill, which would give the attorney general authority to investigate and prosecute crimes on state property, including investigations launched at the request of the governor or legislature.
LaRe noted that, under the bill, a local prosecutor would still have the authority to investigate and prosecute criminal activity on state property.
The measure would give the attorney general the ability to conduct their investigation independent of local authorities or in conjunction with them, at the attorney general’s discretion. If the attorney general has probable cause to prosecute the case, they could either present evidence to a grand jury or refer evidence of the crime to local officials for further consideration.
LaRe’s bill would apply not only to future crimes but also those that have already occurred on state property and haven’t yet been prosecuted, including recent vandalism at the Statehouse.
For more information, contact Rep. LaRe’s office at (614) 466-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org