What Does it Mean to Be Charged with a Crime?

charged with a crime in Toledo

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.

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