COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Franklin County prosecutors are taking the fight against gun crime into the courtroom. The Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced a new policy, effective immediately, will ask judges to set bonds of at least $400,000 for people who possess guns and have a violent criminal record.
“I hope the community sees. I hope the criminals see that we are taking violent crime very seriously,” said Chief Deputy Counsel Anthony Pierson. In Ohio, the charge for unlawfully possessing a firearm is called “possessing a weapon while under disability.”
“Being disqualified from having the ability to carry a firearm – there are lots of things that can do that. But what we are focusing on is if you have a violent felony 1 or felony 2 offense,” Pierson said. “And (the bond amount) could go up depending on other factors, such as the severity of their prior crimes, the recency of their prior crimes, things like that.”
The goal is to keep those suspects in jail and off the streets while they await trial. Pierson said he has spoken to judges, who seem receptive to this new approach amid criticism from law enforcement that prosecutors and judges have been too lenient when seeking and setting bonds for violent suspects.
“Kudos to (Pierson). He’s sending a clear message,” said Brian Steel, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9, Columbus’ police union. “If you come to our city, if you come to our county, and you’re a violent offender who has a gun illegally, who’s not supposed to have a gun in the first place, you’re looking at a minimum of $400,000 bail recommendation, I think we’re off to a great start.”