If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony, you need to understand the criminal justice system and the legal process for felony offenses. A conviction can result in fines worth thousands of dollars and a lengthy prison sentence.
The following are legal steps for felony charges in Ohio:
- Initial Appearance – After your arrest, you will go before the judge at the soonest availability of the court, usually within 72 hours. You will be read the charges filed against you, advised of your constitutional rights (such as your right to an attorney), your bail will be determined, and your case will be set for a Preliminary Hearing. Furthermore, you will be asked to enter a plea of either not guilty, guilty, or no contest. In some instances, the prosecutor may decide to bypass this step and indict you either by a direct presentment to the Grand Jury or a secret indictment.
- Preliminary hearing – If you are in jail, you will have your Preliminary Hearing within 10 days of the Initial Appearance, or within 15 days if you are not in jail. This court hearing is held to determine if probable cause exists based on the available evidence in the case. If probable cause is established, the case will be reviewed by a Grand Jury.
- Grand Jury – The prosecutor presents the case against you to a Grand Jury, which will decide whether to formally charge you with a felony, reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, or dismiss your case entirely.
- Arraignment – Once the Grand Jury reaches a decision, an arraignment is held at the Common Pleas Court. If you are formally charged with a felony, you must enter a plea. Additionally, your bond is reexamined, and a pretrial conference is set.
- Discovery – If you hire a lawyer, he/she will file a motion to request that the prosecutor give you any and all evidence, statements, and any information related to your case.
- Pretrial – This step is an opportunity to settle your case before going to trial. Motions could also be filed to suppress evidence or take any other legal actions that may benefit your case. This is also an opportunity to explore the availability of court programs, such as Intervention in Lieu of Conviction and Drug Court. See our blog post to read more about the programs and eligibility requirements.
- Trial – If you and your attorney cannot reach a plea agreement with the prosecution, you will present your case in front of a jury, who will decide whether you are guilty or not guilty of the felony charge you face. If you are found guilty, the next phase is sentencing to determine the penalties you must serve.
When facing serious felony charges, one of the most important steps to take is hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and freedom. At Hartwig Law LLC, we have more than two decades of legal experience helping clients who have been charged with felonies get the best possible outcome in their cases.If you have been arrested for a felony in Youngstown, contact us today at (330) 899-4446 and schedule a free initial consultation.