Ohio Supreme Court rules Centerville does not qualify as victim in false 911 call

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Centerville does not qualify as a victim in the case of man charged with making a false report and ordered to pay restitution.

Court News Ohio reported Thursday a Supreme Court majority determined Marsy’s Law, approved by voters in 2017 and protects the rights of victims of crimes to receive restitution, applies to persons and private corporations but does not apply to municipal corporations.

The case stems from a 2018 call to 911 in which Michael Knab told the Centerville Police Department someone was “shooting up the place” and hung up. Dispatchers called back, according to Court News Ohio, and were told by Knab someone had been shot at his home. Police officers and fire crews were sent to the scene where they learned there had been no shooting.

Court documents show Knab was charged with making a false report to law enforcement and improper use of the 911 emergency system, both misdemeanors. He was found guilty in Kettering Municipal Court, which hears cases from Centerville. The city asked the court to order Knab to pay restitution to Centerville for the costs incurred responding to the 911 call. The costs of the police department’s labor costs to respond to Knab’s 9-1-1 call were $1,375.56, according to court documents. The trial court ordered Knab to pay that amount to Centerville. Knab was also sentenced to jail and orders to complete a drug-and-alcohol assessment and was placed on supervised probation.

Knab appealed his conviction claiming the restitution order was not allowed under Ohio law as the City of Centerville was not a victim and did not suffer an economic loss as the responding officers were already on duty and would have received the wages regardless.

Justice Judith L. French wrote for the Court majority saying Ohio voters were told Marsy’s Law “would ensure that victims and their families receive due process, respect, fairness, and justice,” and nothing suggests that voters understood and intended to include public corporations as victims.

You can read the Ohio Supreme Court’s full ruling here.

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