Navigating the Municipal Court Process in Ohio for Misdemeanor Charges
Johnson Legal, LLC strives to address the concerns of clients and provide realistic expectations of the municipal court process. Understanding the municipal court process will help you to better understand what you are facing if you are charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC always aims to keep his clients fully informed throughout all of the stages of their criminal case, from arraignment to trial. It is important from the moment you are charged with a criminal offense to not discuss your case with anyone. This includes speaking to the police, which should never be done without an attorney being present, or posting to social media, which becomes public knowledge and can be used by the prosecution.
Municipal Court – What Types of Cases Does it Hear
Municipal Courts hear a wide variety of cases, including assault, marijuana possession and DUI / OVI. Specifically, municipal courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanor criminal offenses that occur within the county where the court sits.
From Arraignment to Sentencing in Ohio
The first stage to a criminal case in municipal court begins at arraignment. There is very little chance of a plea agreement being reached at this hearing. Instead, you will be given the option of pleading guilty, not guilty or no contest. Pleading guilty or no contest will result in you being sentenced that moment and having a criminal record.
Pleading not guilty will give you an opportunity to hire an attorney (if you have not done so before arraignment), who will assist you in developing a defense, filing appropriate motions and reviewing the prosecution’s evidence in preparation for trial.
Discovery is the process of obtaining evidence and information that the prosecution will be attempting to present at trial. Ohio is an open discovery state, which means that upon the filing of a discovery motion by Attorney David Johnson, the prosecution will be required to share their evidence with you and Attorney Johnson. This process will take several weeks and can continued until a few days before trial.
If you plead not guilty at arraignment, the next stage of the municipal court process is a pretrial. This may be a hearing before the judge or a pretrial conference between Attorney Johnson and the prosecution. The primary function of this hearing/conference is for both sides to talk about the case and attempt to resolve it. This could be done through a plea bargain or dismissal of the case.
If a plea agreement is reached, this can result in amending the charge to a lesser charge or the prosecution’s recommendation for a certain sentence. If you accept a plea agreement, the judge will impose a sentence. If you decide not to plead guilty, Attorney David Johnson may file motions relating to your case, such as a motion to suppress evidence or statements made by you while in custody. If motions are filed, a motion hearing will be held.
Some cases will proceed to a motion hearing, where Attorney David Johnson will challenge the admissibility of certain pieces of evidence the prosecution wishes to present to the jury at trial. These motions could include the failure of the officer to have probable cause to arrest you or administering field sobriety tests incorrectly in a DUI / OVI case. In addition to the court ruling on motions, there are continued negotiations between Attorney David Johnson and the prosecutor. This can result in a plea agreement being reached or the case being dismissed.
Municipal Court Trial
If your case has not been resolved by this point, your case will be set for trial. This can be either to a jury or judge. In misdemeanor cases, the defendant must timely demand a jury trial in order to preserve that right or it will be forfeited. Preparing for and conducting a trial is complex and includes considering the rules of evidence, cross-examinations and trial procedures.
As your case progresses through the municipal court, Attorney David Johnson will keep you informed and will discuss the evidence that both sides will present, how the law relates to the facts of your case, and a likely outcome for your case. While it is impossible to predict every situation that will arise with a jury or judge, Attorney David Johnson will take every precaution to ensure a predictable process, but will always provide the most candid advice regarding your situation and how the case is developing.
Your case will end in one of the following ways:
• Dismissal of all or some of the charges
• Amendment of the charge to a lesser charge
• Plea bargain to a lesser charger
If you decide to plead guilty, or are found guilty at trial, the final stage of the municipal court process is a sentencing hearing. The judge will hear from both sides, including any victim(s) of the offense. You will also be permitted to make a statement to the court. The court will then decide upon a sentence to be imposed. This may include jail, fines, community service, probation, license suspension, etc. In addition to the penalties imposed by the court, you will also be responsible for court costs. A failure to pay court costs and fines by a given date will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, call Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC at (614) 987-0192. Attorney Johnson will discuss your case with you and advise you on how best to proceed, including developing a strong defense, negotiating with the prosecution, and preparing for trial.
Johnson Legal, LLC serves the following cities in the central Ohio area for Criminal Defense:
Westerville, Worthington, Columbus, Polaris, Reynoldsburg, Grandview Heights, Shawnee Hills, Bexley, Pickerington, Gahanna, Sunbury, Powell, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Dublin, Hilliard, Lewis Center, Galena, Clintonville, Huber Ridge, Blacklick, Grove City, Delaware, Marysville, Groveport, Newark, Canal Winchester, Obetz, Marion, Mt. Gilead, Pataskala, Granville, Whitehall, Franklin County, Morrow County, Licking County, Union County, Madison County and Delaware County