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Ohio Supreme Court: Dismissal Without Prejudice Is a Final and Appealable Order

by Dale Chappell

Counts in a multicount indictment that are dismissed without prejudice do not prevent a judgment of conviction on other counts from being “final and appealable,” the Ohio Supreme Court held.

Andrew Jackson was indicted on counts of kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and grand theft. He proceeded to a jury trial and was found guilty on the aggravated robbery and grand theft counts, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the kidnapping counts. The trial court declared a mistrial on the kidnapping counts, and the State orally moved to dismiss those counts, which the Court did without prejudice.

The trial court sentenced Jackson to a six-year term of incarceration and entered a judgment on the convictions, which included in the judgment entry the dismissal of the kidnapping counts.

When Jackson appealed his conviction, the appellate court sua sponte dismissed Jackson’s appeal for lack of a final, appealable order, holding that “in a criminal case, a dismissal without prejudice does not constitute a final order” and therefore is not appealable. The State, however, filed a motion for reconsideration and to certify a conflict with another district court of appeals’ decision holding the opposite. The State’s motion was denied. The State then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The question presented to the Supreme Court was “whether a dismissal without prejudice of a count in a multicount indictment prevents the judgment of conviction in the remaining counts from being a final, appealable order.” The Court held that “counts that are dismissed are resolved and do not prevent the judgment of conviction from being final and appealable.”

The Court reasoned that a judgment of conviction is “final” when the judgment sets forth the facts of the conviction, the sentence, the judge’s signature, the time-stamped entry by the clerk, and “a full resolution of any counts for which there were convictions.” The appellate court had held that Jackson’s judgment could not be “final” unless the State either dismissed the kidnapping charges with prejudice or proceeded to trial on those counts.

The Supreme Court rejected the appellate court’s decision on the basis that the “court of appeals’ decision, if allowed to stand, would effectively stay appellate review of Jackson’s judgment of conviction ... until the State either sought a new indictment or the 20-year statute of limitations for the dismissed kidnapping counts expired.” The Court observed, “In the meantime, Jackson would stand as a convicted felon with all of the disabilities that flow from that status and with no means to exercise his right to an appeal.”

The Ohio Supreme Court reinstated Jackson’s appeal and remanded for further proceedings. See: State v. Jackson, 2017-Ohio-7469 (Sept. 7, 2017). 

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Related legal case

State v. Jackson



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