Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyers
Being charged with a criminal offense can be one of the most stressful, life-changing events that you can go through. Being arrested and convicted of a crime can result in the loss of your freedom, as well as the loss of important opportunities in your future, including the ability to seek education, find housing or employment, or secure financial resources.
When you are facing criminal charges in Ohio, you need a dedicated, knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to help you understand your legal rights and options. At Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., LPA, our attorneys will vigorously advocate on your behalf as we fight for the best possible outcome for your case. In many cases, this means arguing for the charges against you to be reduced or even dropped.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, contact us today to schedule a consultation with an Ohio criminal defense lawyer. Call now. We’re ready to help.
- 1 What Charges Require a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
- 2 How Can an Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me?
- 3 How Is a Criminal Case Different from a Civil Case?
- 4 What Should I Do If I Have Been Convicted of a Crime?
- 5 What Is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
- 6 Will My Case Go to Trial?
- 7 Can I Get My Record Expunged?
- 8 Talk to an Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Now
What Charges Require a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Ohio, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. A conviction for a seemingly minor criminal offense can have consequences for the rest of your life. Even if you avoid jail time, having a conviction on your record can make it difficult for you to obtain an education, employment, housing, or financial credit for years to come.
Examples of charges where you need the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer include:
- Domestic violence
- Drug possession
- Drug distribution
- Drug trafficking
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Assault and aggravated assault
- Unlawful possession of a weapon
- Possession of a weapon for unlawful persons
- Possession of a firearm by felon/person prohibited to carry a firearm
- Sexual assault
- White-collar offenses, such as embezzlement
If you have been charged with any criminal offense in Ohio, you should speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help guide you through the criminal justice process and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
How Can an Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me?
After you’ve been charged with a crime in Ohio, a criminal defense attorney can help defend you against your charges and fight to protect your freedom and future by:
- Thoroughly investigating your case and interviewing witnesses to uncover evidence to help you build a strong, persuasive legal defense – not simply relying on the evidence provided by the prosecution
- Working with experts to help develop your defense, including countering the expert witnesses of the prosecution, or provide testimony during sentencing
- Filing motions to challenge the state’s case, seeking to preclude unlawfully obtained evidence, and fighting to have your charges reduced or dismissed
- Negotiating with the prosecution for a favorable plea agreement, when the state has overwhelming evidence
- Vigorously advocating on your behalf at trial, challenging the state to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt
How Is a Criminal Case Different from a Civil Case?
The criminal justice system has several key differences from the civil justice system. The most important difference is that the state, which prosecutes a criminal case, has the burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a far higher standard of proof than the plaintiff in a civil case has. Civil lawsuit plaintiffs only need to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence, or that it is more likely than not that the defendant committed the alleged conduct.
A defendant in a criminal case also has certain rights that defendants in civil cases do not have. Most important of these is the privilege against self-incrimination, popularly known as “taking the Fifth.” A criminal defendant cannot be forced to take the stand in his or her criminal trial. Given the state’s overwhelming burden of proof, a criminal defense has no obligation to present any evidence or argument, since if the state cannot resolve all reasonable doubts as to the defendant’s guilt, the defendant must be acquitted.
Finally, the consequences of criminal cases differ from civil cases. A defendant who loses a civil case must usually pay monetary damages to the plaintiff. A defendant who loses a criminal case may be sentenced to a term in jail or prison, in addition to being required to pay fines to the state. A criminal defendant may also be ordered to pay damages, or restitution, to the victim(s) of the crime.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Convicted of a Crime?
If you have been convicted of a criminal offense in Ohio, the first thing you should do is to review the record of your trial with your criminal defense attorney or a defense attorney who has experience with appeals. This experience is important because the type of advocacy required in an appeal is different from the kind of advocacy required in a criminal trial. Your attorney should identify any possible erroneous rulings by the trial court that you may have a legal basis to challenge.
If you exhaust your direct appellate rights, you may be entitled to challenge your conviction in a petition for post-conviction relief in a state court, or by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court, whereby an individual in custody disputes the legal basis for his or her detention. However, relief under these avenues is limited, typically to alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, identifying newly discovered evidence of innocence, or controlling changes in constitutional law.
If you cannot obtain relief from your conviction, you should seek the expungement of your criminal record, if eligible, once you meet the statutory requirements.
What Is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
The primary difference between misdemeanors and felonies is that misdemeanors are considered to be less severe types of criminal offenses than felonies. As a result, a conviction for a misdemeanor will have less severe punishment than a conviction for a felony.
A misdemeanor conviction usually results in a jail sentence of less than a year (if any incarceration is imposed) along with a fine of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars and potentially an order to perform community service.
Felony sentences require at least six months in jail or prison, with most sentences lasting at least one year. Life sentences or the death penalty are imposed for murder and other serious violent offenses. In addition, the court can impose fines of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Will My Case Go to Trial?
Facing the prospect of a criminal trial can be one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of a criminal arrest. However, in practice, most criminal cases are resolved long before reaching trial. A criminal case can be resolved before trial either because the charges are dismissed or because the defendant has reached an agreement with the state to plead guilty.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid trial by fighting to have your charges dismissed. An attorney may have your charges dismissed by either challenging the evidence the state intends to present at trial or by presenting other evidence that exonerates you from the crime.
A skilled criminal defense attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to uncover evidence of your innocence, and not simply rely on evidence provided by the prosecution. If there is evidence that excludes you as the perpetrator, the state will likely choose to dismiss your charges. The state may also choose to dismiss your charges if your attorney has the state’s evidence excluded from trial, usually when the evidence was unlawfully obtained, such as through a warrantless search or a coerced confession.
You may also decide to agree to a plea deal if the state has overwhelming evidence of your guilt. In a plea agreement, in exchange for your guilty plea, the state agrees to reduce the severity of your charges and/or recommend that the court impose a sentence that is usually far lower than the maximum sentence you might face if you were convicted after a trial. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help negotiate the best possible plea agreement for your case.
Can I Get My Record Expunged?
Unfortunately, a criminal record can have long-lasting damaging effects on your life. Having a record can prevent you from securing certifications or licenses, from getting a job, from applying for schooling or housing, and can even affect your personal and family relationships.
Fortunately, Ohio law allows for certain criminal convictions to be expunged from your record. An offender can seek expungement of a criminal record if he or she:
- Has no more than five low-level felony convictions, or
- Has no more than one misdemeanor conviction and one non-violent, non-sexual third-degree felony conviction
Not every kind of crime can be expunged from your record. Most sexual-based offenses, violent crimes, and crimes that require a mandatory prison term cannot be expunged. DUI convictions also cannot be expunged from your record.
In order to secure the expungement of your criminal record, you will need to convince the court that you have been rehabilitated. You will also need to show that expungement is needed to help you live a productive life and is not outweighed by the public interest in continued access to your criminal record. A skilled, aggressive criminal defense attorney can explain your options for seeking expungement and help you demonstrate your case effectively.
Talk to an Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Now
If you have been charged with a criminal offense or are facing a criminal conviction, you need experienced legal representation to protect your interests and fight for the best results for you. Your freedom and future are too important to leave to the mercy of the criminal justice system.
Contact Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., LPA, today to schedule a consultation to talk with an Ohio criminal defense attorney, an Ohio drug crimes lawyer, an Ohio DUI lawyer, or an Ohio expungement lawyer. We are here to discuss your legal rights and options when facing criminal charges.