- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 11, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Evidence that corroborates a crime has no bearing on the sentence an offender should receive, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday as it tossed out part of an Ohio sex assault law.

The court’s 6-1 ruling, which addressed sex assaults on children under 13, also rejected corroborating evidence as a sentencing tool in plea deals where a jury did not consider the evidence.

Corroborating evidence is irrelevant to the purpose of sentencing, namely “protecting the public from future crime and punishing the offender,” Justice Judith Lanzinger wrote for the majority.

Lawmakers have “unconstitutionally created two different sanctions to be imposed on offenders who commit the same crime - differentiated only by the quantity of the evidence presented to prove guilt,” Lanzinger said.

Prosecutors argued unsuccessfully that lawmakers have wide discretion in defining crimes and fixing punishments.

The decision overturned a three-year prison sentence for gross sexual imposition handed down to a Franklin County man in 2012. After a detective testified at a plea hearing that the man had confessed, prosecutors introduced an audio recording of the alleged confession and argued that, for sentencing purposes, the audio was corroborating evidence.

The Supreme Court’s ruling ordered the case returned to a judge for resentencing.

Justice Judi French dissented, saying lawmakers properly determined that corroboration of evidence was relevant to the punishment of people convicted of gross sexual imposition on a child.

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