Experienced Madison Municipal Court Attorneys
If you are facing criminal charges in the Madison Municipal Court, you are probably feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to go through the process alone. An experienced attorney will help guide you through every step of your criminal case. He or she will also be able to protect your important legal rights as soon as you become the focus of a law enforcement investigation. The investment of attorney’s fees allows many defendants to mitigate the consequences of a criminal conviction. Some are able to dismiss improper charges altogether. It is important to know that you are being represented by an experienced attorney who is defending all your legal rights.
The experienced criminal defense attorneys here at the Joslyn Law Firm have extensive experience working in the Madison Municipal Court. We have worked with the judges and prosecutors to fairly resolve many different types of criminal cases. We work hard to protect you from inadmissible evidence or improper interrogation techniques. (Some of these violations result in charges being dismissed entirely.) We negotiate fair plea deals, and when prosecutors are not willing to offer a fair plea deal, we take cases to trial. Our experienced lawyers know how to present a compelling case to a judge or jury. We have handled many cases in the Madison Municipal Court, and we know how to get you the best result possible.
The Court Information Center below is designed to answer many questions about the Madison Municipal Court. It is also important to consult with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys about the particular circumstances of your case. Call (614) 444-1900 today to schedule a consultation.
Madison Municipal Court Information Center
- Madison Municipal Court Information and Overview
- Common Criminal Charges in Madison, Ohio
- Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in the Madison Municipal Court
- The Collateral Consequences of a Conviction
- Pretrial Release Conditions
- Madison County Diversion Programs
- Cases Involving Mental Health Issues
- Criminal Case Court Process in the Madison Municipal Court
- Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney For Cases in the Madison Municipal Court
- Q&A for Madison Municipal Court Criminal Charges
- Madison Municipal Court Personnel
- Madison Community Resources
- Madison Law Enforcement
- Madison Municipal Court Location
Madison Municipal Court Information and Overview
Municipal courts are local trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Section 1901.20 of the Ohio Revised Code grants these courts jurisdiction over:
- Misdemeanor offenses
- Violations of any municipal ordinances
- Violations of a state traffic law or a municipal traffic ordinance
- Appeals from a judgment or default judgment entered on parking infraction charges. (These cases usually start in the Mayor’s Court before being transferred to the Municipal Court on appeal.)
A case involving these offenses will be filed in the municipal court that covers the territory where the offense occurred. Here in Madison County, the Municipal Court’s boundaries are the same as the county boundaries.
Because a municipal court has limited jurisdiction, there are some legal matters that cannot be handled in the Municipal Court:
- Municipal Courts may not conduct trials of felony offenses. The Court may conduct preliminary hearings and other necessary hearings prior to the indictment of the defendant or prior to the court’s finding that there is probable and reasonable cause to hold or recognize the defendant to appear before a court of common pleas.
- A judge of a municipal court does not have the authority to dismiss a criminal complaint, charge, information, or indictment solely at the request of the complaining witness and over the objection of the prosecuting attorney.
As you can see, there are very clear guidelines for when the Municipal Court has jurisdiction over a case and when it does not. It is important to work with an experienced attorney who can be sure these guidelines are followed correctly. An order entered by a court without jurisdiction can be challenged on appeal.
Common Criminal Charges in Madison, Ohio
There are many different offenses that can be charged in the Madison Municipal Court. Criminal cases generally fall into several broad categories:
- Violent offenses (murder, manslaughter, assault, battery)
- Theft offenses (petty theft, grand theft, larceny, burglary, robbery)
- White-collar offenses (fraud, embezzlement, forgery)
- Drug offenses (possession, trafficking, paraphernalia)
- General disorderly conduct (disturbing the peace, trespassing, loitering, vandalism)
- Vehicular offenses (reckless driving, first time DUI/OUI or driving while impaired)
- Municipal ordinance violations (noise, false reporting, zoning violations, abandoning animals, failure to control animals, gambling)
- Traffic violations (running a red light, failure to yield, failure to control speed, illegal turns, drag racing, driving on a suspended license, following too closely, improper passing)
It is important to get legal advice that is specific to your particular charges. The circumstances of an incident can drastically affect the outcome of your case, and it is important to understand what is likely to happen in your specific case.
Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in the Madison Municipal Court
The main question we hear from potential clients facing municipal court cases is – will I go to jail? While municipal court charges may seem less serious than other criminal cases, the reality is that
The penalties you face in your case will depend on many factors. The Ohio Revised Code sets the following maximum sentences based on the classification of the offense of which you are convicted:
- Classification: First-Degree Misdemeanor (M-1)
- Length of Imprisonment: 6 months
- Maximum Fine: $1,000.00
- Classification: Second-Degree Misdemeanor (M-2)
- Length of Imprisonment: 90 days
- Maximum Fine: $750.00
- Classification: Third-Degree Misdemeanor (M-3)
- Length of Imprisonment: 60 days
- Maximum Fine: $500.00
- Classification: Fourth-Degree Misdemeanor (M-4)
- Length of Imprisonment: 30 days
- Maximum Fine: $250.00
- Classification: Minor Misdemeanor (MM)
- Length of Imprisonment: none
- Maximum Fine: $150.00
As you can see, even misdemeanors carry the possibility of significant jail time and hefty fines. An experienced attorney will know how to present your case most effectively to a prosecutor during plea negotiations, or to a judge during sentencing. This can help mitigate the consequences of a criminal conviction.
The Collateral Consequences of a Conviction
Many defendants are surprised to learn that jail time and fines are not the only consequences they face as a result of a criminal conviction. A criminal conviction can make it more difficult to apply for jobs and housing in the future. It can even make it difficult to obtain credit. Schools can also consider criminal convictions, and this can make it more difficult to get accepted into higher education programs or obtain scholarships and loans that make it possible to pay for them.
Many jobs require professional licensing through the state. Medical and legal professionals, accountants, hair stylists, food handlers, and many others must maintain an active state license in order to lawfully practice their profession. These professional licensing organizations almost always ask about your criminal record. Some even require licensees to report arrests or convictions to the board. While these professional licensing organizations are generally more concerned with felony convictions than with misdemeanors, a misdemeanor conviction can still impact your ability to maintain a professional license.
Many misdemeanors can also result in suspended or revoked driving privileges. Reckless driving, OUIs, driving while impaired, and other vehicular offenses all result in points being assessed against your license. Often, this is a far more inconvenient consequence than fines or court appearances.
Discuss these collateral consequences with your attorney before you agree to a plea deal or make the decision to take your case to trial. There may be options or mitigating the collateral damage a criminal conviction can cause.
Pretrial Release Conditions
For minor misdemeanors and traffic offenses, defendants are usually released on their own recognizance. This means that the defendant promises to appear at a scheduled court hearing. With more serious cases, a bond might be required to secure the defendant’s appearance in court. A prosecutor can also ask for other conditions that are usually related to the charged offense.
For example, a defendant charged with DUI might be ordered to abstain from alcohol until the next court appearance. A defendant charged with domestic violence might be ordered to stay away from the family member who is the designated victim. The prosecutor can ask the judge for these related conditions, and your defense attorney has the opportunity to object to these conditions when appropriate.
Many pretrial release conditions do not greatly impact your daily life. Some, however, are unduly burdensome. For instance, if the judge orders you to stay away from the scene of the crime, and the scene of the crime is your place of work, you could face unemployment. Your defense attorney will have an opportunity to ask the judge to modify any release conditions that are not appropriate. It is important to be aware of this right so that you are not stuck adhering to onerous release conditions for months before your case goes to trial.
Madison County Diversion Programs
Fines and jail time are not the only possible outcomes of your criminal case. Many first-time offenders charged with misdemeanors are eligible for a diversion program. A diversion program allows the defendant to keep criminal charges off his or her record entirely. Here’s how it works:
- The defendant agrees to the terms and conditions of the program. This can include community service, substance abuse screening, anger management counseling, and other conditions related to the charged offenses.
- The prosecutor agrees that the charges will be dismissed when the defendant successfully completes the program. This agreement is committed to writing in order to be enforceable by the Municipal Court.
- At the end of the term specified in the agreement, the prosecutor will dismiss the charges against the defendant (so long as he or she has successfully met all the program requirements). This leaves the defendant with no conviction on his or her criminal record.
A diversion program is an important tool to have available. When the charges are dismissed, you can truthfully answer that you have no convictions when asked on job interviews or housing applications. Your attorney can help prove your eligibility for a diversion program or overcome other objections the prosecutor might have to your participation.
Cases Involving Mental Health Issues
Many of the criminal cases our attorneys handle involve some sort of mental health issue. Anger management, substance abuse, domestic violence, and other issues affect many Ohio families. They can also contribute to criminal behavior. When this happens, it is absolutely critical that you hire an attorney who understands the mental health issues involved in your case. This is the only way you will have an effective advocate for a fair resolution to your case. The prosecutor must understand these issues if he or she is to offer a fair plea deal. The jury must understand these issues in order to make a fair assessment of whether you are guilty or not guilty. A judge must thoroughly understand mental health issues in order to enter a finding of “not guilty by reason of insanity” that cannot be challenged on appeal. (Section 2945.391 of the Ohio Revised Code has specific requirements for entering this finding properly.)
For many defendants, a criminal case is the first opportunity they have to seek treatment, or even simply acknowledge their mental health issues. These problems are nothing to be embarrassed about, and you should not try to conceal them from the court. On the contrary – when prosecutors and judges understand that there are mental health components driving criminal behavior, they are often more flexible in plea negotiations and sentencing. Experienced legal professionals know that mental health issues must be addressed in order to deter future criminal conduct. If your case involves a component of mental or behavioral health, it is critical that you work with an attorney who not only understands the issues, but also has experience presenting these issues to prosecutors, judges and juries.
Criminal Case Process in the Madison Municipal Court
Criminal charges can be overwhelming – especially if you have never set foot in a criminal court before. It is helpful to have a basic overview of the case process in order to understand what will happen when you go to court.
(1) You are summoned to appear in court.
There are a few different ways that criminal charges can be filed against you under Ohio criminal procedure rules. First, an officer can issue a ticket for traffic offenses. The ticket serves as a criminal complaint that is filed with the court. If it has a court date on it, the ticket can also serve as a summons to appear in court. Second, a prosecutor can file criminal charges with the court based upon a police report. Third, a prosecutor can take the case to a grand jury to seek an indictment. In this case, a grand jury finds that there is probable cause to file charges against the defendant. The indictment serves as the criminal complaint. An indictment is harder for a defendant to challenge than a prosecutor’s complaint because it is based on the findings of a jury – not a single prosecutor. Prosecutors tend to use indictments for the most serious charges.
If you have not been summoned to court on a traffic ticket, you will receive a summons from the court after charges are filed by a prosecutor or by an indictment. This generally comes in the mail.
Serious felony charges can come with an arrest warrant. In this case, the defendant is arrested and held until he or she can appear before a judge. These serious charges are usually filed in the Court of Common Pleas. For most cases in the Municipal Court, you will receive a summons to appear at court at your scheduled date and time. Do not ignore this summons. Failure to appear can result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. This means that you could be arrested during any traffic stop, at work in front of your colleagues, or at home in front of your family.
(2) You have an initial appearance before a judge.
Your initial appearance before a judge will accomplish a few important things. First, you are entitled to a formal reading of the charges against you. This is known as an arraignment. Second, the prosecutor will have the chance to ask for pretrial release conditions. This can include a bond filed with the court to secure your appearance at future court dates. Also known as “bail,” bonds are usually requested when the charges are serious, and the defendant poses a flight risk. If you are facing misdemeanor charges, the prosecutor might agree to release you on your own recognizance (which is the promise to appear at future court dates).
In addition to bail, the prosecutor can ask for other pretrial release conditions. Common examples include orders to stay away from the alleged victims or the scene of the alleged crime. You might also have conditions specific to the charged offenses. For example, OUI defendants are often ordered to abstain from using drugs or consuming alcohol. Your pretrial release conditions should be tailored to the specific circumstances of your case. It is also important to understand that your defense attorney has the opportunity to challenge any pretrial release conditions. He or she can ask the court to reduce the amount of your bail, to reduce the area you must stay away from, or challenge other conditions that make it difficult for you to work and attend court.
(3) The attorneys begin exchanging evidence and negotiating a plea deal.
At the end of the initial appearance, the court will set a status conference. This is a meeting (usually held about a month after the initial appearance) at which the attorneys can report to the judge on the status of the case. The court will ensure that the case is proceeding as it should. The court will also address any legal issues that arise, such as the admissibility of evidence against the defendant.
In order to prepare for the status conference, the attorneys must begin investigating the case to find all relevant evidence. This is known as discovery. The attorneys are also required to exchange their evidence with each other. This is known as disclosure. Disclosure is governed by the Constitution, federal law, state law, rules of evidence, and local rules of procedure. If an attorney fails to report a witness or document or other evidence to opposing counsel, that evidence or witness will not be allowed at trial.
The disclosure process is required by law, but it also serves another important purpose. The attorneys cannot negotiate a plea deal until they have an honest picture of the whole case. The prosecutor must understand any weaknesses in the case that could lead to an acquittal at trial. The defense attorney must understand the strength (or weakness) of the case against the defendant in order to properly advise the client whether to accept a plea deal or take the case to trial. Once the attorneys have disclosed their evidence to one another, they are able to engage in realistic, productive plea negotiations. This is an important process. The vast majority of criminal cases in the United States are resolved by plea deals – not by trial. This means that your legal rights are more likely to be determined by plea negotiations than by a jury or judge.
(4) During negotiations, you might attend court for status conferences or evidentiary hearings.
Discovery and plea negotiations can take some time. It is likely that you will have to attend one or more status conferences during this time so the attorneys can report on their progress to the judge. The court might also set hearings to address any legal issues that arise in the case. For example, if you were not read your Miranda Rights, your confession could be inadmissible at trial. If the police seized evidence without a warrant, it could also be inadmissible – unless there is an applicable exception to the warrant requirement. These legal issues are complex. They require interpretation under the Constitution, federal case law, and state case law. This is why the attorneys must often take the issue to a judge for resolution.
(5) If no deal can be reached, your case will proceed to trial.
If the attorneys are able to reach a fair plea deal, this can be entered with the court. A plea deal can also contain sentencing provisions. If it does not, the defendant will enter the guilty plea, and the court will determine what the sentence should be. If the attorneys are not able to reach a fair plea agreement, your attorney may advise you to take your case to trial.
If you are facing minor misdemeanor charges, you might not have the right to a jury. In this event, your case will be determined by a judge. If you do have the right to a jury, your attorney will have the opportunity to ask questions of a panel, and select jurors from the larger panel. You have the right to participate in this process. Whether there are jurors or not, the trial begins with each attorney making an opening statement. The prosecutor then presents his or her witnesses. The defense attorney has the right to cross-examine each witness, as well. After the prosecutor finishes his or her “case in chief,” the defense attorney can then present his or her own witnesses. Again, the prosecutor has the right to cross-examine these witnesses as they are called.
Once each side rests, the attorneys each present a closing statement. The judge or jury then determines whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If you are acquitted, you will be free to go (after any paperwork or administrative matters are resolved). If you are convicted, your case will proceed to sentencing.
Sentencing can occur immediately after a guilty verdict. Your attorney can also request a separate sentencing hearing. This gives the attorney time to prepare evidence and arguments in favor of a more lenient sentence. This is important work, as it can drastically reduce the amount of fines and jail time you face as the result of a conviction. It also gives the defense attorney time to consult with the prosecutor about his or her recommended sentence. While recommendations are not binding on the judge, it is persuasive. A judge who is faced with the same sentence being recommended by both prosecution and defense will often order that sentence.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney For Cases in the Madison Municipal Court
As we have seen, there are many different ways in which an attorney can make a difference in your case. It starts as soon as you become the subject of a law enforcement investigation. An attorney can help ensure that you are not forced into making an involuntary confession or providing evidence in violation of your right against self-incrimination. An attorney can also protect you from unlawful searches and seizures. You also have a Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and having an attorney is obviously necessary to protect this right. Any violations of these important constitutional rights can be challenged in court.
An attorney can also help you as soon as charges are filed in court. He or she can work to reduce bail or modify other onerous pretrial release conditions. Your attorney can also ask for the dismissal of any charges that are not supported by the evidence. This is an important tool throughout the discovery process. At any point during discovery, your attorney can ask the court to deem evidence inadmissible and ask for the dismissal of any charges that cannot be sustained without that evidence.
Your attorney will also be indispensable during plea negotiations. Most defendants will not know if they are getting a fair deal. Only an experienced attorney can advise you of your chances of success at trial, and properly advise on whether to accept a plea deal. Defense attorneys are also experienced at negotiating better plea deals that are fairer to their clients.
At trial, there will be dozens of legal questions within the first moments of jury selection. A defendant cannot be expected to know what objections to make to jury instructions, prospective jurors, opening statements, evidence being admitted, or improper statements made by witnesses. Without a defense attorney guiding you through the trial, your legal rights are almost certain to be violated at some point.
Your attorney can also make a difference at sentencing. Fines, jail time, and other orders can all be challenged by an experienced defense lawyer. It is important to know what legal challenges are available and which arguments are likely to be persuasive.
Even after your case is over, an experienced criminal defense attorney can still make a difference. You might need to appeal your conviction or sentence. Perhaps you want to seal your record or restore your civil rights. These are important matters that make a difference in a defendant’s life. Having an experienced defense attorney on your side will dramatically improve your chances of success on these post-conviction matters.
Q&A for Madison Municipal Court Criminal Charges
These are some of the most common questions our attorneys receive. Of course, we cannot answer all your questions here, and we cannot give you advice specific to your case. Be sure to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers.
When should I arrive for my court date?
You should plan on being downtown at least a half-hour before the time listed on your summons. This will give you plenty of time to find parking, get to the courthouse, and figure out where you need to be once you get inside.
What should I wear?
You should dress nicely to show respect for the judge and the court. Some people think of this as their “Sunday best,” while others use the guideline of a job interview. According to court rules, your clothing should be appropriate and clean.
Where should I check in?
Your summons will give you instructions on this point. It will either direct you to a main check-in desk or to proceed directly to the courtroom. You can ask for help once you get to the courthouse if you get lost.
What should I say to the judge?
You should follow your attorney’s guidance on this matter. If you have a lawyer in the courtroom, you shouldn’t need to say much other than your name and date of birth (when asked). Answer any direct questions the judge asks of you. Do not volunteer information about your case. Remember, your initial appearance is not the time to resolve your case.
What should I say to the prosecutor?
If your attorney is with you, you shouldn’t need to say anything to the prosecutor. If you don’t have an attorney, be careful about saying anything to the prosecutor, because anything you say to the prosecutor could later be used as evidence in your case.
Can I just negotiate a plea deal on my own?
Some defendants choose to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor without consulting a defense attorney. There are several reasons why this is risky. First, you may have evidentiary challenges. You might be able to keep our confessions, evidence seized by officers, or statements made by witnesses. If any of this evidence is deemed inadmissible, the prosecutor’s case is weakened, and he or she has more incentive to offer a fair plea deal. Second, a defendant usually does not know if he or she is being offered a fair plea deal. Only an experienced defense attorney can advise you of your chances of success at trial. An experienced defense attorney will also know what plea deals are offered in similar cases. Without this experience, you will not know if the prosecutor’s plea deal is fair.
Madison Municipal Court Personnel
It is important for your attorney to be familiar with the court staff and personnel involved with your case. At the Joslyn Law Firm, our attorneys have extensive experience working in the Madison Municipal Court and have worked with the staff on many different types of cases. Here are some of the people and departments that might be involved in your case:
- Madison County Clerk of Courts: Renae E. Zabloudil
- Madison County Municipal Court Judge: Eric M. Schooley
- Judge Schooley’s Clerk: Jean Hughes
- Madison County Prosecutor: Stephen J. Pronai
- Criminal Division of the Madison County Prosecutor
Madison Community Resources
Many, many criminal cases involve underlying issues. Perhaps the defendant has untreated mental health conditions. Perhaps the defendant has financial challenges that lead to shoplifting. It is important to identify these obstacles and find ways to overcome them. This shows the prosecutor and judge that you are addressing the underlying causes of your conduct and working to maintain a crime-free life. This is often the most persuasive evidence you can present to a prosecutor in plea negotiations (or to a judge at sentencing).
Here are some helpful links for services in Madison County:
- The Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities
- The Madison County Department of Family and Children
- Madison County Ride
- Madison County Public Health
- Madison County Sanitary Sewer and Water
- Madison County Veteran Services
- Mental Health Services for Clark and Madison Counties
- The Ohio Domestic Violence Network
Madison County Law Enforcement
City of London Division of Police
10 E. First Street
London, Ohio 43140
Records requests: email@example.com
Chief: Glenn Nicol
Non Emergency: 740-852-1414
Mount Sterling Police Department
1 South London Street
Mount Sterling, Ohio 43143
Fax: (740) 869-3442
Non Emergency: (740) 869-2211
Madison County Sheriff’s Office
23 W. High Street
London, Ohio 43140
Sheriff: John R. Swaney
Submit a tip online: here
Fax: (740) 852-7125
Non Emergency: (740) 852-1332
The Madison Municipal Court is Located in Downtown London, Ohio
It is in the county complex located west of the intersection of Main Street and High Street.
Contact a Madison Municipal Court Defense Attorney Today
The Joslyn Law Firm handles cases in all types of courts in Madison County, Ohio. If you need help with your municipal court case, contact our Madison County criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible.