Criminal Defense Archives - Groth & Associates
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Criminal Defense

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What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor in Ohio?

By | Criminal Defense, Ohio, Toledo | No Comments

Ohio generally divides criminal violations into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Of the two, felonies are more serious and typically garner a defendant more time behind bars as well as larger fines. Felonies also carry a more serious loss of civil rights, which can be particularly difficult for defendants to bear.

Both felonies and misdemeanors are serious, and we encourage anyone suspected of a crime to quickly reach out to a Toledo criminal defense attorney. You do not want to delay pulling together a defense.

Maximum Punishments for Misdemeanors

Ohio classifies misdemeanors by degree, with First Degree being the most serious and Fourth Degree and minor misdemeanors being the least. You can find the maximum punishment in Ohio Revised Code  §§ 2929.24 and 2929.28.  To summarize:

  • Minor misdemeanor: No jail time and a maximum $150 fine
  • Fourth-degree misdemeanor: maximum of 30 days in jail and $250 fine
  • Third-degree misdemeanor: maximum 60 days in jail and $500 fine
  • Second-degree misdemeanor: maximum 90 days in jail and $750 fine
  • First-degree misdemeanor: maximum 180 days in jail and $1,000 fine

Felony Sentencing in Ohio

Because felonies are more serious, they will result in more serious penalties. Ohio has revised the penalties, which go into effect in April 2021:

  • Fifth-degree felony: 6-12 months in prison and maximum $2,500 fine
  • Fourth-degree felony: 6-18 months in prison and maximum $5,000 fine
  • Third-degree felony: 9-60 months in prison and maximum $10,000 fine
  • Second-degree felony: minimum of 2 years in prison and maximum $15,000 fine
  • First-degree felony: minimum of 3 years in prison and maximum of $20,000 fine

You will need to check the charges brought against you to determine what penalties you are facing. Remember that murder is a separate crime with its own penalties not discussed in this article.

A word of caution: maximums are just that. Most defendants will not receive the maximum unless they have a lengthy criminal history or there were aggravating circumstances present.

A Felon’s Loss of Civil Rights

Unfortunately, felons will also lose important civil rights once convicted. These are listed in Ohio Revised Code § 2961.01(A). For example, felons will lose the ability to vote while incarcerated, though they are restored on release.

Convicted felons also cannot serve on a jury or hold public office. Both are generally restored when the defendant completes his or her sentences; however, the disqualification from public office might be permanent for offenses that involved official misconduct.

Most significantly, a felon will lose firearm rights for certain violence and drug convictions. A court can restore these when the defendant completes his or her sentence. Otherwise, being caught with a firearm when your rights have not been restored will result in additional criminal penalties.

Speak with an Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Groth & Associates has the experience you need in a criminal defense attorney. Too many people quickly accept the prosecutor’s plea deal without meeting with an attorney. We can review your charges and discuss the most likely resolution to your case. Call us today.

How Do I Know I Have Been Charged with a Crime?

By | Criminal Defense, Ohio, Toledo | No Comments

As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we know that time matters. The sooner you can begin building a defense, the stronger your chances of success. But how will you know you have been charged with a crime?

In Ohio, most criminal charges are by complaint or indictment. You will know what charges you face at your arraignment, which is typically held after being arrested or receiving a summons that commands that you show up in court. For help with your case, contact a criminal defense attorney at Groth & Associates today.

Arrest

Getting handcuffed is one way you will know you have been charged with a crime. Of course, the police can arrest someone before any criminal charges are filed. But as they put the handcuffs on, they should tell you whether you have been charged with a crime.

There is no sense in resisting arrest—or even asking too many questions. You will learn more about the criminal charges against you at your arraignment. Remember, anything you say could be introduced later in court.

Summons

Not every criminal defendant is arrested. You might receive a summons, which tells you to show up to court. According to the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 4(B)(2), the summons should state the time and place where the defendant should appear. The summons will also tell the defendant they will be arrested if they do not show up at the appointed time voluntarily.

Prosecutors have the option of choosing a summons over an arrest warrant when they believe that a summons is adequate to get a defendant to show up in court. This often happens. Also, under Rule 4(A)(2), an officer with a warrant for arrest can, in misdemeanor cases, issue a summons instead of making an arrest.

A summons usually has a copy of the criminal complaint attached. This complaint should include the factual basis for the criminal charge, so you gain a better sense of what the prosecutor is accusing you of. Review the summons and the complaint carefully with an attorney.

Arraignment

An arraignment is typically a defendant’s first appearance before a judge. It is not a trial, and no witnesses will testify. A defendant is not convicted at the arraignment. Instead, the judge will read out the charges and the defendant enters a plea. A defendant can request a public defender at that time or have their own attorney present. A judge also informs a defendant of other important rights, such as the right to bail and the right to remain silent.

Under Ohio law, your arraignment must happen within days of your arrest—within 48 hours is standard. If the prosecutor needs more time, then they need to point to extraordinary circumstances that support holding you for longer.

If you do not have an attorney, we strongly encourage you to enter a “Not Guilty” plea and request a lawyer immediately. In some cases, the prosecutor will need to convince a judge that they have probable cause for charging you.

Speak with Groth & Associates Today

Our criminal defense attorneys can swing into action and represent you if you have been arrested or received a summons. Contact us to schedule your confidential consultation.

charged with a crime in Toledo

What Does it Mean to Be Charged with a Crime?

By | Criminal Defense, Ohio, Toledo | No Comments

When a person is charged with a crime in Ohio, they are no longer merely a suspect. A suspect is someone the government “thinks” might have committed a crime and could be the subject of an investigation. Crimes often have a long list of suspects, which the police try to winnow down using detective work.

But when the government “charges” someone with a crime, they are formally accusing them of being a criminal. Criminal charges are very serious, and the accused must obtain competent legal help, otherwise, they could very easily find themselves in jail. Many criminal cases are won or lost in the days following an arrest, so contact Groth & Associates today.

Being Arrested and Held

Although the government can arrest a suspect, they cannot hold them indefinitely. Instead, they typically need to present evidence to a judge in a preliminary hearing. The prosecutor can question witnesses and present physical evidence. The defendant can als0 cross-examine witnesses and present their own if they wish. The judge must find that there is enough evidence to justify holding the defendant.

After the hearing, the judge has many options:

  •         Hold the defendant to appear in court pending a grand jury indictment on the originally filed charges
  •         Find probable cause on a different charge supported by the evidence and hold the defendant to appear in court
  •         Find a probable cause to support a misdemeanor charge
  •         Order that the defendant be discharged from custody

Formal Indictment

Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution states that a person cannot stand trial for a felony unless they are indicted by a grand jury. This jury is composed of members of the community who receive evidence from the prosecutor. They deliberate and then decide whether to issue the indictment

Lower-level crimes might be charged by information or complaint and do not require an indictment. If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, for example, the prosecutor does not necessarily need a grand jury to indict you.

Charging documents have many technical requirements, and some complaints or indictments are defective. A seasoned criminal defense attorney should always review a charging document to check whether the case can be dismissed due to a defect.

Defending Yourself

As soon as you are charged with a crime, you must begin building a defense. There is no confusion about the fact that the state believes you are guilty, and they will dedicate considerable resources to getting a conviction. Now is not the time to try and “talk your way” out of a charge, so there is no incentive to answer the police officer’s questions.

When the charges are serious, you might be held in jail awaiting trial or offered bail. It can be hard for a defendant to build a defense when their movement is restricted. This is just another reason to reach out to a criminal defense attorney.

At Groth & Associates, we have represented men and women charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses. You can contact us to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our lawyers.

expungement in Toledo

How to File for Expungement in Ohio

By | Criminal Defense, Ohio, Toledo | No Comments

A criminal conviction can pop up at the most inconvenient time, such as when applying to the job of your dreams or when seeking an apartment. Many people are shocked that they need to disclose criminal records that are years, possibly decades, old.

Fortunately, many people can expunge their criminal histories in Ohio. This article explains how, but we encourage you to reach out to an Ohio expungement attorney for a consultation.

Check if You Can Expunge Your Conviction

Not all crimes are eligible. For example, you cannot expunge a conviction for sexual imposition, rape, sexual battery, public indecency, and other sex crimes. Felonies in the first-, second-, and third-degree cannot be expunged, either. Speak with an attorney if you have questions.

Satisfy the Waiting Period

Ohio law sets a waiting period before a person can apply for expungement. The amount of time will depend on whether you were convicted and the specific crime.

The clock does not begin to run until you have received a termination of the case or a final discharge. For example, you will need to complete all probation, pay all fines, and satisfy any restitution order.

Here are some sample waiting periods:

  • Unclassified misdemeanor: 1 year
  • Misdemeanor: 1 year from termination of the case
  • A single felony conviction: 3 years

A person can also expunge non-convictions, such as dismissals or acquittals, and there is no waiting period.

Obtain a Copy of Your Conviction

Visit the Clerk of Court where you were sentenced. Ask for a certified copy of “Judgment Order of Conviction.” You will have to pay a small fee. You cannot request expungement with a certified judgment.

Draft an Application

You need to draft an application asking the judge to expunge your record. Your attorney knows how to do this, but if you are representing yourself you should look for printed forms to complete. In Ohio, public libraries have fill-in-the-blank forms you can use. There are two forms you need:

  • Application for Sealing of a Criminal Record Pursuant to ORC §2953.32
  • Judgment Entry for Sealing

The “Application” will request information such as the charges and case numbers for the convictions you hope to expunge. You will also need the date of convictions and the date of termination.

The “Judgment Entry” is something the judge will sign at the hearing. However, you must provide the requested information in the appropriate lines.

Assemble the Packet

Attach the “Judgment Order of Conviction” to the “Application for Sealing of a Criminal Record.” You need 3 copies of this combined document. This is what you will file with the Clerk of Court.

Key: You are not filing the Judgment Entry for Sealing. Instead, you take that to the court hearing with you for the judge.

File at the Clerk of Court

Visit the Clerk of Court to file. The clerk should stamp all your copies and give one back to you. This is for your records.

You must pay a fee to file. Call ahead and ask the clerk for the amount and acceptable methods of payment. The amount of the fee can change over time. If you can’t afford the fee, you should complete a “Poverty Affidavit” at the clerk’s office.

Schedule a Hearing

The clerk should schedule a hearing date before the judge. Remember, you need the judge to sign off on your request only after he or she is convinced that you will not commit another crime. One advantage of working with an attorney is that we can discuss what facts to highlight that show you have been rehabilitated.

Need Assistance? Speak with an Ohio Expungement Attorney

Expungement is not a slam dunk, and many people are denied. Contact a lawyer at Groth & Associates today to discuss your case. Our consultations are free.

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