If you, a friend, or a loved one gets on the wrong side of the law in Ohio, knowing what to expect can help to manage the uncertainty and outcome, because criminal convictions impact careers, families, and freedoms in life-changing ways.
Here’s What You Need to Know When Facing—or fighting—a Criminal Charge in Ohio
When faced with criminal charges, it is absolutely vital that you are defended by competent and experienced legal counsel. In fact, it is never too soon to talk to a lawyer if you or someone you are with are questioned by law enforcement regarding suspected criminal activity.
Remember, the only thing you need to tell law enforcement is your name, address, and date of birth. Anything you say or do can be used against you. Other than the required information, it is important to exercise your right to remain silent.
If police ask to search something or enter your residence, you don’t have to let them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. Be calm and respectful, then pick up the phone and call Graham & Graham 1-800-625-8585. Put that number in your phone, now.
Our criminal defense lawyers will present the best case to reduce penalties, charges, jail time, or to even get your charges dropped before trial.
The Legal Process in a Criminal Case
Most criminal cases begin with the filing of a complaint, based on either a law enforcement investigation, a citizen’s accusation, or the filing of an indictment by the Grand Jury. A Grand Jury hearing does not have a judge and the defense is excluded from the proceedings. During the hearing, the prosecutor presents the case facts and the jury may call witnesses and request further investigations. It is important to remember that Grand Jury proceedings are secret.
After the filing of a complaint or an indictment, a warrant for the arrest of the suspect may be ordered. In some cases, a summons may be sent in the mail that orders you to appear before the court at a specific time.
Once the warrant or summons is issued, with or without a lawyer, the defendant—the person accused of the crime—will have an initial appearance before the court known as an “arraignment.” It is best to have your lawyer with you at this time.
During the arraignment, the defendant hears the charges brought against him or her by the state (the prosecution). They are also informed of their rights, such as the rights to an attorney, bail, and a trial. The procedure varies slightly depending on whether the criminal charge is a felony or a misdemeanor. The criminal defense lawyers at Graham & Graham can help you navigate this process.
Pre-Trial and Trial
During pre-trial, motions can be presented to the judge, objections to certain evidence can be made, and plea bargain negotiations occur. To avoid the uncertainty of a jury trial where the evidence, depending on the particular case, may be damning, the defense may choose to strike a deal with the prosecution, or vice versa if the prosecution has a weak case. Such pre-trial agreements—plea bargains—settle a majority of criminal cases in Ohio.
Trial by jury is a constitutional right of the criminally accused. A criminal trial places the burden of proof on the government. Criminal defendants do not have to prove their innocence. They are “innocent until proven guilty.” And the standard of proof is that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jury verdicts must be unanimous. In Ohio, misdemeanor juries consist of eight people, while felony juries consist of twelve people.
Criminal defendants have the right to appeal a guilty verdict to a higher court. A successful appeal means that the conviction may be overturned, or the case sent back to trial court for additional proceedings.
Appeals are handled in the appellate court system. Appeals that fail at the appellate level may be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Ohio Misdemeanor and Felony Defense Lawyers
Graham & Graham’s criminal defense lawyers offer people in trouble the legal counsel and aggressive representation they need. From the time you are arrested or accused, Graham & Graham will be by your side. We cover the full range of criminal law matters, backed by a long history of serving our Southeastern Ohio community.
Contact us for a free case review, and keep this number in your phone for whenever and wherever you need our help: 1-800-625-8585.