Having the State of Ohio file criminal charges against you is the scariest event imaginable. You need an experienced defense lawyer near you to help you navigate the system, provide you with sound advice, negotiate on your behalf, and provide excellent representation in the event that it is necessary to present your case at a jury trial. Every case is different, but below is a brief explanation of some of the stages of the criminal process in a typical case.
1. The First Encounter.
For those who have not dealt with criminal issues, the first encounter with law enforcement will either be Sheriff’s “service” (hand-delivery of the documents) with charges by law enforcement (complaint or indictment) -- or, it may be arrest. If you are arrested, you may feel like you have nobody to turn to for help. You need a defense lawyer, and we're here to help. We promise to make sure that you and your family are aware of what is happening with your case at all stages. We promise to attempt to get your bond lowered through the courts, or if that is not possible, to use our network to connect you with experienced bonding companies whose fees are reasonable given the circumstances of your case. We'll help you defend yourself from the outside.
A word of advice – do not talk to anyone but your lawyer about your case! Attorney-client privilege exists so that a defendant can be open and honest about what happened. (Almost) everyone else is fair game to be called as a witness at trial. Jail phone calls are recorded! Prosecutors and law enforcement do listen to those recordings. Don’t say anything over a jail phone call (or social media) that you don’t want someone to play in court.
Please note that some of these steps are different for misdemeanor cases.
2. Felony Cases.
If a felony case, one step in the criminal process will most likely be the indictment stage. You will probably not even know this occurred until after you are notified of your charges. In the State of Ohio, the prosecutors bring the case before a grand jury, who meet with the prosecution to issue a “true bill” or “no bill.” If a true bill is issued the indictment is filed, and either served with a summons or it may be served with an arrest warrant. The next step in the process is called arraignment. If you watch TV or movies, you have probably seen this stage. This is the stage in the proceedings where the defendant is making his or her first court appearance. This is where you plead “not guilty,” “guilty,” or “no contest.”
After a “not guilty” plea is entered, the judge will move on to consider bond. In making this decision, the judge considers a number of factors. The most important factor that the judge will consider is the level of the offense(s) charged and the nature of the offense(s).
3. Bond, Plea Deals and Trial.
If a cash bond is set and the defendant does not readily have money to place in escrow with the Clerk of Courts to pay his or her bond, other options are available via third-party bonding company. Our office can assist families by connecting a defendant or his or her family members to a reasonable, trusted bonding company. The next stage is discovery. At that point, the negotiations begin with the prosecutor’s office. Once we have a feel for what they have, we can come up with a game plan on how to respond. A variety of tactics and strategies may be necessary to effectively negotiate with the prosecutor’s office.
If a plea deal is reached, the final step is getting the judge to sign off on it. The judge is the judge, and he or she can decline to follow a deal if he or she wants. A key step in the process is making sure that the judge will go along with the deal. If not, all of the negotiations up to that point are scrapped.
Proceeding to trial is the most stressful part of the criminal process. Your freedom, or possibly your life, is in the hands of strangers. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney is key in helping try to predict how the jury will perceive the evidence. Let us help get you through this. Click here to connect with our team, and a criminal defense attorney near you.