Charged with a Crime in Ohio?
Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Ohio criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.
What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?
The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
- Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Ohio?
Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. In Ohio, misdemeanors are categorized into five classes: first, second, third, and fourth degree, as well as “minor misdemeanors”. The general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in Ohio include:
- First-degree misdemeanor. Crimes in the category include, but aren’t limited to: making or causing false reports of child abuse or neglect, unauthorized use of a vehicle, petty theft, and carrying a gun without a permit. The maximum penalty for this crime category includes a jail sentence of up to 180 days, and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
- Second-degree misdemeanor. Crimes in the category include, but aren’t limited to: abuse of a corpse, obstructing official business, and unlawful transaction in weapons. The maximum penalty for this crime category includes a jail sentence of up to 90 days, and/or up to $750 in fines.
- Third-degree misdemeanor. Crimes in the category include, but aren’t limited to: writing, defacing, drawing, or otherwise marking a facility or vehicle of the public transportation system, illegal cultivation of marijuana between 100 and 200 grams, and possessing a revoked or suspended concealed handgun license. The maximum penalty for this crime category includes a jail sentence of up to 60 days, and/or up to $500 in fines.
- Fourth degree misdemeanor. Crimes in the category include, but aren’t limited to: selling or donating contaminated blood, disturbing a lawful meeting, and failure to disperse. The maximum penalty for this crime category includes a jail sentence of up to 30 days, and/or up to $250 in fines.
- Minor misdemeanor. Crimes in the category include, but aren’t limited to: failure to aid a law enforcement officer, public gaming, disorderly conduct, and reckless driving. The penalty for minor misdemeanors includes a fine of up to $100; no jail sentence will ever be imposed.
What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Ohio?
Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In Ohio, felonies are categorized into six classes: “unclassified felonies”, and felonies in the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth degree. Possible felony charges and penalties include:
- Unclassified felony. Includes crimes such as murder and aggravated murder, the two most serious felonies in Ohio law. Unclassified felonies are not categorized by degree, as with the remaining five felony categories, and instead, allow the law to devise specific penalties that suit the circumstances. Additionally, while someone convicted of murder faces a maximum fine of $15,000, someone convicted of aggravated murder faces a maximum fine of $25,000. General prison sentences for unclassified felonies range from 25 years to life.
- First-degree felony. Includes crimes such as rape, voluntary manslaughter, and kidnapping. Crimes of this category carry a sentence range of 3 to 11 years in prison, as well as up to $20,000 in fines.
- Second-degree felony. Includes crimes such as illegally manufacturing or processing explosives, soliciting prostitution after a positive HIV test, and abduction. Crimes of this category carry a sentence range of 2 to 8 years in prison, as well as up to $15,000 in fines.
- Third-degree felony. Includes crimes such as reckless homicide, robbery, and theft of anhydrous ammonia. Crimes of this category carry a sentence range of 9 months to 5 years in prison, as well as up to $10,000 in fines.
- Fourth degree felony. Includes crimes such as unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, safe-cracking, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and vehicular assault. Crimes of this category carry a sentence range of 6 to 18 months in prison, as well as up to $5,000 in fines.
- Fifth degree felony. Includes crimes such as compelling acceptance of objectionable materials, breaking and entering, and gambling. Crimes of this category carry a sentence range of 6 to 12 months in prison, as well as up to $2,500 in fines.
Need a Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help
If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Ohio criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.