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Criminal Non-Support
What Can the Court do if no Support is Being Paid?
Ohio Revised Code section 2919.21 provides for the criminal prosecution of any person who abandons or fails to provide adequate support for their child or children under the age of eighteen. In certain cases, criminal non-support actions can be an effective way to deal with absent parents who have the ability to pay support, but are not doing so.

It is important to screen possible criminal cases closely however, as many administrative remedies such as income withholding, or FIDM freeze and seize actions, are often more effective than criminal action. Cases considered for criminal non-support are reviewed by the CSEA attorney before referral to the county prosecutor for filing.

Screening Cases Factors
The following factors should be considered when screening cases:
  • A criminal non-support action may be filed either as a misdemeanor or a felony offense
    • Misdemeanor, First degree
      • Criteria: fails to provide adequate support, and ability to pay based on evidence presented to county Prosecutor. Decision to prosecute is made by the county Prosecutor
      • Penalties
        • Maximum $1000 fine
        • Maximum six months jail time
    • Felony, Fourth degree
      • Criteria: Absent parent / defendant has previously plead guilty or been convicted of felony non-support
      • Penalties: O.R.C., section 2929.11
        • Maximum $2500 fine
        • Maximum five years in prison
    • Felony, Fifth degree
      • Criteria: absent parent / defendant has previously plead guilty or been convicted of misdemeanor non-support, or if the arrearage is equal to the amount of support ordered for an accumulated period of 26 weeks out of 104 consecutive weeks
      • Penalties: O.R.C., section 2929.11
        • Maximum $2500 fine
        • Maximum five years in prison
  • Level of Proof
    • The level of proof for a criminal non-support action is beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecutor must be able to see a high level of evidence of: the identity of the absent parent / defendant, the absent parent / defendant's ability to pay the amount of support ordered, and the lack of payments made.
  • Venue
    • Location where the crime occurred
    • The crime is the lack of payments being made to the child, so cases are normally filed in the county where the custodial parent and child or children reside.
    • Personal jurisdiction over the absent parent / defendant required:
      • Long arm jurisdiction over the absent parent
      • The absent parent is still in Ohio, making local service of a summons or warrant possible
      • It becomes possible to serve the absent parent / defendant with a summons or warrant while that person is physically in Ohio, even for a short period of time