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

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.