Felonies are Serious Crimes
Ohio Felony offenses carry the potential for prison time in the state penitentiary system, unlike misdemeanors.
Felony charges carry the most severe penalties. The penalty range for a felony in Ohio can vary from probation to life in prison and, in severe cases, death for some forms of murder. Ohio is one of the thirty-eight states that allow capital punishment for certain felonies.
Felony Cases are Handled in Common Pleas Courts
Unlike the Municipal Courts, which hear misdemeanor cases, the prosecution of felonies under Ohio law is handled in Common Pleas courts. The only exception is a Preliminary Hearing, where felony charge is initially heard in a Municipal court.
Felony Criminal Charges in Ohio
Every felony in Ohio is set forth via statute in the Ohio Revised Code. There are many different types of felonies in Ohio, including the following crimes:
- Breaking and Entering
- Tampering with Evidence
- Criminal Tools
- Grand Theft
- Receiving Stolen Property
- Drug Crimes
- Weapons Violations
Some Crimes Can Be Either a Misdemeanor or a Felony
Some criminal activities are classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances involved. This is especially true of crimes involving theft, domestic violence, DUI/OVI and other serious traffic offenses.
Repeated criminal activities may be elevated to the level of a felony. Other criminal activities may become a felony because of the gravity of the harm inflicted or the nature of the victim. Drug crimes, for example, become a felony depending on the quantity and type of drug in possession as well as other factors, such as trafficking, being in the vicinity of a school or a juvenile, etc.
Ohio Felony Enhancement
Additional penalties, often times mandatory, may be tacked on if the offense involves the possession or use of a firearm or other type of weapon. Crimes against law enforcement officers or corrections officers generally are felonies and involve more serious felony penalties.
Crimes categorized as felonies automatically entitle the accused to a trial by jury in the Ohio criminal justice system. A felony jury consists of twelve trial jurors in all criminal offenses.
Ohio Felony Penalty Table
The following table summarizes the felony sentencing guidelines incorporated into the Ohio Criminal Code effective July 1996.
Consequences of a Felony Conviction in Ohio
A felony conviction may have a profound effect on a person’s ability to obtain employment, as future employers may be very reluctant to hire anyone with a felony conviction.
People convicted of felonies may also face other consequences such as not being allowed to vote, not being allowed to possess firearms, being denied housing, disqualification for grants, forfeiture of property and loss of professional licenses. It is always wise to consult an experienced attorney.
What should I do if I’m charged with a felony?
Contact a qualified and experienced Criminal Defense lawyer early in your case.
DO NOT answer questions from police officers without your attorney being present.
All people accused of a crime are legally presumed to be innocent unless and until they proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, either in a trial or as a result of pleading guilty. This legal presumption means not only that the prosecutor must convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt, but also that the defendant need not say or do anything in his or her own defense. A defendant may simply remain silent, not present any witnesses, and argue that the prosecutor failed to prove his or her case. If the prosecutor can’t convince the jury that the defendant is guilty, the defendant goes free. Keep in mind that the accused person does not have to prove his or her innocence in a criminal case.
You Need a Qualified and Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Early in your Case
If you are charged with a felony, you need the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the court system where your charges will be heard. Don’t risk your future in the hands of an inexperienced lawyer not accustomed to handling criminal cases on a regular basis.
Since the stakes are so high in felony cases, it is paramount that a criminal defense lawyer be consulted at the earliest opportunity, even if you are only considered a suspect.
Speaking to Law Enforcement officers is one of the worst mistake you can make – especially true if you are truly innocent. Consult an attorney immediately.