A misdemeanor is a lower-level criminal offense. Although a misdemeanor charge is not as serious as a felony, a conviction on some misdemeanors could still lead to jail time. In addition, a conviction could permanently stain your record, potentially disqualify you from certain jobs and educational opportunities, impair your chances of getting a professional license, and affect child custody decisions.
Do not assume you can handle this type of criminal charge without professional legal help from a seasoned defense attorney. Contact a Toledo misdemeanor lawyer as soon as you are charged.
Types of Misdemeanor Offenses in Toledo, OH
While misdemeanor charges often are thought of as more minor offenses in comparison with felonies, a misdemeanor conviction still can have a substantial impact on your life. What kinds of crimes are classified as misdemeanor offenses? Under Ohio law, some of the following offenses are commonly charged misdemeanors:
- Petty theft, which is defined as theft involving items with a value of less than $500;
- Trespassing, or knowingly entering onto the property of another person without permission;
- Assault, which can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the specific facts of the situation;
- Disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor charge that can occur in a number of situations, including if you got into a physical fight with another person, incited another person to violence, and even created an unreasonable level of noise or behaved in an offense manner in public;
- Damaging property, which can include vandalism and arson;
- Drug possession or possession of drug paraphernalia, which is a “minor drug possession offense” under Ohio law when charged as a misdemeanor (whether drug possession is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depends largely on the amount of the substance in the defendant’s possession); and
- Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), which is a misdemeanor offense if you have a blood alcohol content above 0.08 percent or are driving while under the influence of a controlled substance.
Generally speaking, several of the crimes listed above can also be classified as felony offenses if there are aggravating factors or other issues that could result in a more severe charge. In addition to the crimes listed above, traffic offenses in Ohio actually are classified as misdemeanors, as well. Traffic offense convictions include, but are not limited to:
- Failure to yield;
- Turn signal violations;
- Marked lane violations;
- Equipment violations; and
- Reckless operation of a motor vehicle.
For a free legal consultation with a misdemeanor lawyer serving Toledo, call (419) 930-3030
Law Defines a Range of Misdemeanors
The state ranks misdemeanors by the seriousness of the offense. There are five categories, starting with minor misdemeanors, which includes most criminal traffic violations. Other crimes of this type range from less serious fourth-degree misdemeanors to most serious first-degree charges. Upon a misdemeanor conviction, the maximum sentences are:
- Minor: no jail, $150 fine
- Fourth-degree: 30 days, $250
- Third-degree: 60 days, $500
- Second-degree: 90 days, $750
- First-degree: 180 days, $1000
If the misdemeanor involved a traffic infraction, the offender’s driver’s license could be suspended and a judge could order driver education. In some cases, a judge could also order a vehicle to be immobilized or even forfeited.
Potential for Felony Charges
Prosecutors could charge some misdemeanor crimes as felonies. The case’s specific facts determine the severity of the charge in some instances. For example, Ohio Revised Statute § 2925.04(5) makes the cultivation of marijuana a minor misdemeanor unless the crime was committed near a school or juvenile. In this case, it is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. Cultivating more considerable amounts merits harsher charges, and growing more than 200 grams is considered a felony. The risk of felony charges and jail time makes it vital to an individual’s future to enlist the services of a skilled Toledo misdemeanor attorney.
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Resolving Misdemeanor Charges
Misdemeanors are crimes, and people accused of misdemeanor offenses require a robust defense. A determined Toledo attorney can review the circumstances of an arrest and the evidence against an accused to determine the most effective strategy to combat the misdemeanor charges in a specific case.
Our legal professionals will look for evidence of law enforcement overreach that could prompt a judge to dismiss charges or suppress evidence. Depending on the offense, an advocate could also challenge the prosecutor’s evidence and promote the accused’s good character to persuade them to drop the charges.
In addition, if the prosecutor has strong evidence that law enforcement obtained legally, negotiating a plea to lesser charges or enrollment in a diversion program sometimes provides the best outcome for the accused.
Judges Could Impose Alternate Sentences
Besides jail time and fines, the law allows judges to order other penalties. For example, if the accused is unemployed or does not have financial resources, a court might impose community service hours instead of a fine. According to Ohio Revised Code § 2929.27, a judge could order someone convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor to perform up to 500 hours of community service.
The law allows judges to consider many other options when sentencing a misdemeanor offender, including drug treatment or other forms of counseling, probation, and even house arrest with an electronic monitoring bracelet. If a prosecutor has significant evidence of a misdemeanor offense, a Toledo attorney can work with an accused and the prosecutor to try to find a resolution that avoids jail time in many cases.
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Get Help With Your Misdemeanor Charge From a Toledo Attorney
Facing criminal charges is an upsetting experience, especially if it has never happened to you before. Seeking skilled legal counsel is the best way to ensure you do not face unnecessarily harsh consequences.
A Toledo misdemeanor lawyer can provide diligent representation to get you the best outcome possible in your circumstances. Contact our office as soon as you are charged to schedule a consultation.