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The Ohio Felony Process

If you or someone you know has been charged with an Ohio felony, you will want to educate yourself on the law as much as possible. In addition, it would be wise for you to consult with an Ohio criminal lawyer about your case to better understand the process and to develop a defense strategy.

Probable Cause & the Search

Most people think the Ohio felony process begins with the arrest, but this is not necessarily true. Although police officers may be able to catch criminals committing certain crimes in the act, this is not always the case. That is why an investigation or search is necessary.

To conduct a search, a police officer will usually need to get a warrant from a court. This warrant allows the officer to check a specific location, such as your home, for evidence.

In order to get a search warrant, the officer must have probable cause that you committed or contributed to the crime. Probable cause means that it is highly likely.

However, officers do not always need to get a search warrant to search you, your car, or your property. For example, if you are arrested, the officer has a right to search your person. In addition, if you are arrested in a vehicle, the officer has the right to search your vehicle without a warrant.

The Arrest and Your Rights

If the police officer has sufficient reason to believe you have committed a crime, he or she will place you under arrest.

At this point, you will be able to exercise certain constitutional rights that protect those taken into custody. For instance, you will have the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to answer any questions from police or investigators. This right allows you to avoid incriminating yourself by accident.

You will also have the right to an attorney. This means that once you are taken into custody, you will be able to call your lawyer, so that he or she can be present during questioning.

If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney appointed. This kind of attorney is known as a public defender.

Ohio Felony Arraignment

Within about three days of your arrest, you will be arraigned. This means that the charges against you will be read aloud in court and you will have the ability to enter your plea. In Ohio, your plea options include:

  • Pleading guilty: This means that you admit that you did the crime.
  • Pleading not guilty: This means that you claim you did not commit the crime.
  • Pleading no contest: This means that although you do not admit guilt, you also do not dispute the charges. This plea is often used if a corresponding civil trial is expected.
  • Pleading mute: This means you do not enter a plea, and so the court enters a not guilty plea. This allows you to dispute the Ohio felony process up to that point.

Setting Bail

At the arraignment, the court may set bail for you. Bail is the amount of money you must pay in order to be let out before your trial takes place. It is to help ensure that you will not just flee and escape prosecution. In certain circumstances, the court may refuse to grant bail.

In Ohio, bail can be paid in cash, by pledging property or by a bail bond.

The Trial

Under Ohio felony laws, your trial will take place within 275 days after the arrest was made. You will have the right to a jury trial; however, you may file a written waiver with the court to waive this right.

As per the Constitution, your trial will be speedy. If you are found guilty, you will have 30 days to file an appeal.