Being convicted—or simply accused—of a state felony in Ohio will impact your quality of life moving forward. To what extent depends, in large part, on the degree of the felony. Ohio divides felonies into five classes, from first-degree (the most serious) to fifth-degree (the least serious). Prison sentences and fines vary by the seriousness of the felony. In most cases, Ohio criminal law also allows judges leeway when deciding a punishment based on factors such as the individual’s prior record and the specific circumstances of the crime.
A Return to Indefinite Sentencing
Felony sentencing has recently changed in Ohio with the passage of the Reagan Tokes Law. The new law subjects all F-1 and F-2 offenses, not subject to life imprisonment, to indefinite sentencing. The indefinite sentencing on qualifying F-1 and F-2 offenses is rather complicated. Our criminal defense lawyers can help guide you through the process.
First Degree Felonies
Ohio first degree felonies, called F-1 violations, include criminal offenses such as kidnapping, rape, and voluntary manslaughter. F-1 violations call for:
- 3 to 11 years in prison
- Maximum fine of $20,000
In addition, under the new indefinite sentencing law, for qualifying F-1 offenses, the judge can select a minimum term from the existing range, 3-11 years, and then the maximum term is 50% of that term. For example, if a judge sentences an offender to 10 years on an F1, the indefinite range is now 10-15 years in prison.
Second Degree Felonies
F-2 felonies often—but not always—involve violence. Examples include abduction, sexual assault, burglary of an unoccupied building, or illegally creating explosives. Ohio second degree felonies call for:
- 2 to 8 years in prison
- Maximum fine of $15,000
Indefinite sentencing for qualifying F-2 offenses allows the judge to select a minimum term from the existing range, 2-8 years, with a maximum term of 50% of that term. For example, a sentence of 8 years on an F-2 would result in a range of 8-12 years in prison.
For help with these and other felony sentencing nuances, it is best to speak with a Graham & Graham defense attorney.
Third Degree Felonies
Ohio third degree felonies include a range of crimes, some violent and some not. Perjury and bribery are examples of F-3 felonies. The court may impose:
- 9 to 36 months in prison
- On some qualifying offenses: 12 to 60 months in prison
- Maximum fine of $10,000
Fourth Degree Felonies
Felonies of the fourth degree in Ohio include crimes such as motor vehicle theft, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and vehicular assault. F-4 sentencing can call for:
- 6 to 18 months in prison
- Maximum fine of $5,000
Fifth Degree Felonies
Fifth degree felonies are among the least severe, but they still carry punishments that are more serious than those for most misdemeanors. F-5 crimes, which include breaking and entering, theft over $1,000, and forgery, can result in:
- 6 to 12 months in prison
- Maximum fine of $2,500
Ohio Criminal Statute of Limitations
People who commit crimes cannot face prosecution and punishment indefinitely, with the exception of a few types of crimes, including murder. Most Ohio criminal charges must be brought within a certain amount of time, known as the statute of limitations period.
Ohio felonies have a statute of limitations of five, six, or twenty years depending on the crime. In certain cases, the clock does not begin running until the crime—or evidence of the crime—is “discovered.” Exceptions also apply to individuals who avoid prosecution by leaving the state or concealing their identity or whereabouts.
Speak With an Experienced Zanesville Criminal Defense Attorney
Your choice of attorney can make the difference between a lighter charge or dismissed charge in an Ohio felony case. Graham & Graham’s criminal defense lawyers offer people in trouble the legal counsel and aggressive representation they need. With offices in Zanesville and Cambridge, Ohio, we can help protect your rights from the time you are arrested and continue to represent you throughout the legal process, up to and including an appeal.
Contact Graham & Graham for a free case review, and keep this number in your phone for whenever and wherever you need our help: 1-800-625-8585.