What is Ohio Issue 1? $4M bail set for Joshua Amburgy accused of killing stepmom as per new state law

'He has a history of violent behavior, both in the criminal court as well as in the community,' the judge said, referring to Joshua Amburgy

What is Ohio Issue 1? $4M bail set for Joshua Amburgy accused of killing stepmom as per new state law
Prosecutors asked the court to consider Issue 1 when setting bail for suspect Joshua Amburgy who is accused of killing his stepmother (Clermont County Sheriff’s Office)
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CINCINNATI, OHIO: Ohioans pass Issue 1, declaring judges must "consider public safety" when setting bail for defendants after a majority of people voted for controversial Ohio's Issue 1 ballot. Moreover, not even 24 hours after the bill's passage, the new constitutional amendment has already been taken up in court. 

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During the trial of suspect Joshua Amburgy, Clermont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Lara Baron Allen asked Judge Anita Bechmann to consider the public's safety when setting bail for Joshua. He is accused of brutally stabbing his stepmom multiple times with a butcher knife. Melissa Amburgy, 58, was rushed to the hospital where she later died. Joshua also has a history of violent crimes. "Issue 1 was passed last night by the people of Ohio, and through that passage, people have spoken to the relevance and importance of the consideration of public safety when a court is setting bond," Baron Allen said, reported WLWT. "We will ask the court to consider public safety."

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Miami Township police responded to the stabbing but when the police arrived Joshua fled the scene. Police tracked Joshua on the back patio of the next street over. Bodycam footage shows Joshua walking through the patio and holding a knife in his hand. Authorities immediately order him to drop the weapon, however, Joshua is seen picking the knife up over his head and running toward an officer. A couple of shots were fired by the police, and one hit Joshua in the leg.

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Joshua was treated at the hospital for his wound and appeared in court one week later. Before his arrest for allegedly stabbing his stepmother and threatening police, Joshua was on probation on a prior conviction for assaulting a police officer. "He has a history of violent behavior, both in the criminal court as well as in the community," Judge Bechmann said. "Considering all of these factors, the court is setting Mr. Amburgy's bond at $4 million cash or surety." Joshua has been charged with attempted murder and felonious assault, but those charges could be upgraded now that his stepmother has died from her injuries. Joshua will return to court on November 17.

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What is Ohio Issue 1?

Issue 1, was one of the statewide issues Ohioans voted on during the general election on November 8. The measure was successfully approved by more than 75% of the vote while many opponents called the issue a "red herring." The new constitutional amendment requires judges to "consider public safety" when setting bail it also brought the battle over the intent and purpose of bail to the ballot box. 

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The campaign for Issue 1 began following a 4-3 Ohio Supreme Court ruling in January after a $1.5-million bond was set for a murder suspect, the court ruled that the high bail was unconstitutional, writing, "A court may not impose excessive bail for the purpose of keeping an accused in jail," reported WKYC. Issue 1 eliminates Ohio Supreme Court's January ruling, under that ruling, it said the purpose of bail is not for safety instead, it's to make sure defendants appear for their next hearing. 

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"People with money will be able to get out, people without money will stay incarcerated," said Andrea Whitaker, director of the Legal Defenders Office of Summit County. "And it doesn't address really who is a risk to the public." Justice Pat DeWine, son of Governor Mike DeWine, said it's not that easy for judges to deny bail, even if they believe public safety is at risk. "Only for certain felonies, with certain standards of proof can you hold someone without bail," said DeWine. "And that's appropriate in some situations, but there are other situations where judges want to set a higher bail, and judges in Ohio should have that flexibility."
 

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