By Brad Koffel
In Ohio, a sentencing judge has the unique power to grant early release
from prison under certain circumstances and conditions. The governing
statute is Ohio Revised Code section 2929.20. In Ohio, it is called "Judicial Release" ("Judicial" or "J.R.") and has been in existence
since July 1, 1996. Prior to 1996, it was called Shock or Super Shock
The general rule is that a 5th degree and 4th degree felony offender can petition for judicial release between the 30th day and the 90th day from the time the offender reaches prison, not from the date of sentencing. For 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree felony offenders, the motion can be filed 180 days after the offender
has entered prison, not from the date of sentencing.
The Nuances of the Judicial Release Statute are as follows:
If the stated prison term is exactly 5 years, the motion can be filed 4
years or more after the offender starting serving the prison term.
If the stated prison term is more than 5 years but not more than 10 years,
the motion can be filed once five years of the stated prison term have
If consecutive sentences are ordered for multiple counts, the time for
filing the motion for Judicial Release is calculated from the time the
offender reaches the state prison to serve the entire sentence. The consecutive
sentences do not effect calculation of time for Judicial Release.
Now, if the offender is sentenced on a mandatory prison term crime, the
time to calculated the filing of the motion for Judicial Release does
not start until the offender has served all of the mandatory prison time.
If an offender receives a sentence beyond the mandatory minimum time,
it is our professional opinion that the time to file starts after the
mandatory minimum time expires.
For 1st and 2nd degree felony offenders, the original sentencing standards set forth in
R.C. 2929.13(D) apply in determining whether or not Judicial Release is
appropriate. The sentencing judge must weigh the likelihood of recidivism,
the impact on the offender of the time spent in prison, and whether or
not community control (formerly known as probation) would demean the seriousness
of the offense(s).
Who is not eligible for Judicial Release?
An offender who receives a prison term greater than 10 years is not eligible
to petition for Judicial Release.
Public officials who commit certain felonies are not eligible for Judicial Release.
How to Petition for Judicial Release / Timing of Holding a Hearing:
Once the statutory time period has elapsed, a felony offender may petition
for Judicial Release by filing a written motion. The judge may deny the
motion without a hearing within 60 days of the filing of the motion which
preserves the offender's eligibility to petition. However, if the
judge marks the Entry "With Prejudice", then the offender can
no longer petition for Judicial Release. A judge cannot grant Judicial
Release without conducting a hearing and notifying all the parties. A
court will only hold one hearing for an offender. We refer to this as
a "One and Done" hearing.
If the judge is going to grant a hearing, the hearing must be held within
60 days from the filing of the motion. However, the judge can delay the
hearing up to an additional 180 days. If the judge holds a hearing, the
decision must be made within 10 days of the hearing. It is required that
the judge receive and review an "Institutional Summary" of the
offender prior to granting a motion for Judicial Release. This report
will contain the efforts the offender has taken while institutionalized
to improve himself or herself. Victims of the crime have a right to be
heard at the Judicial Release hearing.