What Criminal Charges Are There in Ohio?
Criminal offenses are charged as either misdemeanors or felonies in Ohio. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, punishable by less than six months in jail.
There are five classifications of misdemeanors:
- First-degree misdemeanor convictions are the most serious, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- Second-degree misdemeanor convictions may result in up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $750, or both.
- Penalties for a third-degree misdemeanor conviction are up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.
- Those convicted of a fourth-degree misdemeanor may be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $250, or both.
- Minor misdemeanors, such as disorderly conduct or public gaming, do not involve jail time. A conviction can result in a fine of up to $150.
There are six classes of felonies:
- Unclassified felonies have mandatory sentencing guidelines because they are the most heinous crimes. A person convicted of aggravated murder, for example, may be sentenced to life in prison if warranted by the circumstances of the crime. The minimum sentence is 20 years and at least 15 years must be served. A fine up to $25,000 may also be imposed.
- First-degree felonies are punishable by three to 11 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
- Second-degree convictions may be punished by two to eight years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
- You may be sentenced to nine months to five years in prison and fined up to $10,000 for a third-degree felony conviction.
- For a fourth-degree felony, you may be sentenced to six to 18 months in prison and fined up to $5,000.
- A conviction for a fifth-degree felony is punishable by six to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
What Is Involved in the Criminal Court Process?
Once you have charges filed against you, an arraignment will occur. At the arraignment the charges will be explained and the defendant will be called upon to enter a plea. A defendant may plead not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty or, with the consent of the court, no contest.
Before the trial occurs, there may be pleadings and motions filed and preparation for trial will begin including discovery and inspection of information applicable to the case.
Prior to trial, your attorney and the prosecuting attorney may engage in plea negotiations. If you agree to accept a plea and the judge approves it, you may avoid trial. If not, your case proceeds to either a jury trial or bench trial. In a bench trial, the judge alone renders a decision and sentence, rather than involving a jury.
The jury trial generally involves three phases: the jury selection, the criminal trial, and the sentencing phase. During the criminal trial phase the state prosecutors will try to prove that you are guilty and your attorney will make the case for your defense.
If convicted, you will be sentenced. If not convicted, you will be free to resume your life.
What Is the Appeals Process?
If convicted of your charges, you may be appeal to a higher court on the basis that an error was made that affected the outcome of the trial. A felony appeal must be filed within 30 days of the judgment entry containing your conviction and sentence (some exceptions apply).
If the higher court grants the appeal, it will review the details of the case and may reverse or partially reverse the decision of the lower court. If the appeal is denied, the decision of the lower court will stand.
How Can an Attorney Help?
The attorneys at Wolfe Law Group, LLC use their extensive trial experience to represent clients facing drug charges, sex crimes, campus crimes, and misdemeanor and felony theft, domestic violence, assault, and homicide charges. We also help clients seal certain criminal records and other post-conviction remedies.
Their experience lends itself to identifying the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, making extensive discovery requests, negotiating aggressively, and preparing each and every client’s case for trial as though it was their only case.