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Criminal Law Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is criminal offense, and what is a criminal lawyer?

In Ohio, all crimes are defined by statute or ordinance, also referred to as laws. Those laws set out penalties for committing crimes, which can range from a simple traffic offense to aggravated murder. A criminal lawyer represents defendants accused of offenses.

Where can I find out what offenses in Ohio are considered crimes?

The Ohio Revised Code lists all crimes that apply in Ohio. Most of these appear in Title 29, the Ohio Criminal Code . Subjects covered include homicide, assault, kidnapping, rape, arson, robbery, burglary, credit card offenses, forgery, fraud, bribery, resisting arrest, and drug offenses.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Crimes are categorized as either a felony or a misdemeanor based on the severity and the nature of the crime. A felony is the most serious of crimes and is typically punishable by imprisonment for more than one year -- or potentially death. Lower-level felonies can carry a sentence of just six months. Misdemeanors are less severe crimes that are typically punished by a fine or a sentence of six months or less. Traffic and parking infractions are often called violations and are also considered a part of criminal law.

What kinds of Ohio crimes are considered felonies?

Felonies include a range of serious crimes, including murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping, rape, robbery, burglary, and carrying a concealed weapon.

What are the penalties for a felony conviction?

Ohio residents convicted of a felony can face anywhere from six months to 10 years or more in prison, and fines of $2,500 to $20,000.

What kinds of Ohio crimes are considered misdemeanors, and what penalties are imposed?

Misdemeanors can include speeding, drunken driving and simple assault. Penalties for a misdemeanor include up to six months in prison and fines of $150 to 1,000.

Will I go to jail if I am convicted of a crime?

It depends on the offense. Judges have discretion when it comes to sentencing and can impose punishment that includes community service, fines or rehabilitation. However, upon a conviction for some very serious crimes, a judge is required to send the person to prison or jail. Mandatory prison time is imposed for serious crimes that include murder, rape and certain drug offenses.

What is expungement?

An expungement occurs when criminal conviction is cleared from your record. The practical result is that your record appears as though you were never convicted of the crime. You must apply for an expungement in the court in which you were convicted. Not all convictions can be cleared, and generally in the state of Ohio you must be a first offender, meaning this is the only serious offense on your record. Traffic offenses, including DUIs, cannot be expunged, nor can you have upper-level felonies, sex offenses, many offenses of violence, and certain other crimes expunged from your record.

How can a lawyer help me if I get a DUI?

A good DUI lawyer may be able to prevent a DUI conviction by reviewing the evidence, such as the Breathalyzer results or the process for taking a blood sample, to determine whether proper procedures were followed. If a discrepancy is discovered you may be able to challenge the use of that evidence. In some cases, the police stop and arrest can be successfully challenged because of Constitutional errors. A DUI lawyer can work to keep you out of the courtroom or minimize the charges that you face, thus helping you avoid a drunk driving conviction on your permanent record.

Review the information on our Web site to learn about the criminal law representation we provide to our clients in the counties of Summit, Portage and Medina, Ohio. Please contact us online or call us at (330) 785-3337 for more information.