Court Sentencing

Appeals court: Minimum sentences for people who haven't been in prison

An Ohio appeals court says judges can impose only a minimum sentence for anyone who has never spent time in prison before.

The First Ohio District Court of Appeals says the jury must play a role in sentencing by making findings if a sentence stiffer than the minimumum is being contemplated. But Ohio leaves sentencing to judges. The Cincinnati-based appeals court ruled Friday that it is un-constitutional to impose more than the minimum sentence without either supporting findings by the jury or admissions by the defendant.

The Hamilton County prosecutor's office said it is appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court. Prosecutors say the ruling would require judges to impose minimum terms of three years for felony crimes including rape, manslaughter and aggravated arson if the defendant has never been to prison before.