Highly Experienced Madison Common Pleas Court Attorneys
If you are facing criminal charges in the Madison Common Pleas Court, you have important legal rights at stake. Your constitutional protections apply the moment you come under suspicion of a crime. If you are convicted, your very freedom could be taken away. It is absolutely critical to have an experienced criminal defense attorney giving you reliable legal advice at every step of the criminal case process.
The Joslyn Law Firm is dedicated to protecting your rights. Our attorneys have extensive experience in the Madison Common Pleas Court. They have appeared before the judges and learned what arguments are persuasive to them. They have worked with the prosecutors and discovered the most effective negotiation strategies with the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office. Our entire legal team works together to deliver superior legal advice and customer service. We fight hard to defend our client’s rights under the state and federal constitutions, state law, and local rules of procedure.
The Court Information Center below is designed to answer some of the most common questions we receive about cases in the Madison Common Pleas Court. We cannot, of course, answer all of your questions here, nor can we give you legal advice specific to your case. We hope you will schedule a free consultation at our office by calling (614) 444-1900 or visiting our website.
Madison Common Pleas Court Information Center
- Madison Common Pleas Court Overview and Information
- Common Criminal Charges in Madison, Ohio
- Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in the Madison Common Pleas Court
- Collateral Consequences of a Conviction in the Madison Common Pleas Court
- Diversion For Criminal Charges
- Criminal Case Court Process in the Madison Common Pleas Court
- You Have Legal Protections Before a Case is Filed in the Madison Common Pleas Court
- Q&A for Madison Common Pleas Court Criminal Charges
- Madison Common Pleas Court Personnel
- Madison Legal, Community and Mental Health Resources
- Madison Law Enforcement
- Madison Common Pleas Court Location and Contact Information
Madison Common Pleas Court Overview and Information
Ohio state law creates different courts with different jurisdiction over different civil, criminal, probate, and domestic relations matters. The criminal divisions of the common pleas courts of Ohio have jurisdiction over all felony and misdemeanor cases. The Court is not, however, designed to handle a large caseload of all criminal cases, so most misdemeanor cases are delegated to the local municipal courts. The municipal courts have the authority to hear cases involving city ordinance violations and conduct certain stages of felony criminal cases. The municipal courts cannot conduct trials of felony charges, however. Felony trials must be conducted by the Court of Common Pleas.
The Madison Common Pleas Court has jurisdiction over criminal matters arising within Madison County boundaries. When misdemeanor cases are delegated within the county, they are assigned to the Madison County Municipal Court. Both courts are located in the county government complex located in downtown London, Ohio. It is important to confirm which courthouse you have been summoned to appear at. It is also important to have your defense attorney verify that your case has been assigned to the proper court. For example, a felony case may start in the municipal court. The municipal court could accept a guilty plea and make preliminary rulings in the case, but if the case were to go to trial, it would have to be reassigned to the Common Pleas Court.
Judge Eamon Costello is currently assigned to the Madison County Common Pleas Court. (Other judges might occasionally fill in when Judge Costello is on vacation or must recuse himself from a particular case.) Stephen J. Pronai is the Madison County Prosecutor, and assistant prosecutors in his office are assigned to cases in the Common Pleas Court.
Common Criminal Charges in Madison, Ohio
Most cases in the Common Pleas Court involve felony charges. These fall under several broad categories:
Violence Against the Person
- Murder and manslaughter
- Aggravated assault
- Kidnapping and abduction
- Possession of illegal substances
- Possession of drugs with the intent to sell
- Possession of prescription medications without a valid prescription
- Sexual assault and battery
- Sexual conduct with a minor
- Molestation or groping
- Possession of child pornography
- Internet sex crimes
- Attempted sexual assault
- Grand theft
- Receiving stolen property
- Money laundering
- Identity theft
Interference with Criminal Justice
These crimes are often misdemeanors, but can result in felony charges if the circumstances are severe enough:
- Tampering with evidence
- Evading arrest
- Assault on an officer
Misdemeanor charges might also be heard in the Common Pleas Court (usually when they accompany felony charges). Common misdemeanor charges include:
- Petty theft
- Possession of small amounts of marijuana
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Simple assault
- Domestic violence
- Disorderly conduct
Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in the Madison Common Pleas Court
Ohio state law gives the following sentencing ranges based upon the way a crime is classified:
- Classification: First-Degree Felony (F-1)
- Length of Imprisonment: 3 to 11 years (can be enhanced by 1 to 10 years if the defendant is a repeat violent offender)
- Maximum Fine: $20,000
- Classification: Second-Degree Felony (F-2)
- Length of Imprisonment: 2 to 8 years (can be enhanced by 1 to 10 years if the defendant is a repeat violent offender)
- Maximum Fine: $15,000
- Classification: Third-Degree Felony (F-3)
- Length of Imprisonment: 9 to 60 months (can be enhanced by 1 to 10 years for repeat violent offenders)
- Maximum Fine: $10,000
- Classification: Fourth-Degree Felony (F-4)
- Length of Imprisonment: 9 to 18 months (no enhancements for repeat violent offender)
- Maximum Fine: $5000
- Classification: Fifth-Degree Felony (F-5)
- Length of Imprisonment: 6 to 12 months (no enhancements for repeat violent offender)
- Maximum Fine: $2500
- 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
There is a significant difference in sentencing with even just a degree or two difference in the classification of an offense. This is why it is important to consult with your defense attorney about the possibility of pleading guilty to reduced charges. This will not be the right strategy for all cases, but can be an important option for mitigating the damage of criminal charges against you.
Collateral Consequences of a Conviction in the Madison Common Pleas Court
Jail time and fines are not the only consequences you might face as the result of a conviction in the Common Pleas Court. Vehicular offenses (like OUI, vehicular manslaughter, or even reckless driving) can result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license – even if your license was issued in another state.
Your professional licensure can also be affected by criminal charges. Many state boards and regulatory bodies require licensees to report criminal charges as soon as they are filed. Others allow you to wait and only require reporting if a conviction occurs. A conviction can, however, result in the suspension or revocation of your professional license. For example, a child care worker will likely have certification revoked if he or she is convicted of child abuse. A lawyer will face professional discipline – and potential disbarment – for a perjury conviction. It is important to discuss these consequences with your attorney prior to making decisions about your case. The choice to plead guilty or to risk a conviction at trial must be made with full knowledge of the collateral consequences you could face after there is a conviction on your record.
Diversion for Criminal Charges
The good news is that you have options other than pleading guilty or risking a conviction at trial. Many first-time offenders who have been charged with nonviolent crimes are eligible for a diversion program. A diversion program is an agreement between the prosecutor and defendant that keeps a conviction off the defendant’s record. The defendant agrees to participate in all program requirements. This typically includes community service, restitution, and counseling specific to the charged offense. (For example, a defendant charged with domestic violence might be required to participate in anger management, or a case involving drugs might require the defendant to undergo substance abuse counseling.)
Once the defendant has completed all program requirements and not committed further crimes for the length of the program, the prosecutor will dismiss the case entirely. This prevents a conviction from being entered on the defendant’s criminal record. The defendant can truthfully state on job, housing, and credit applications that he or she has never been convicted of a crime. This allows defendants far more opportunities in life after the criminal case has been resolved.
Diversion programs are offered at a prosecutor’s discretion. The prosecutor’s office might have eligibility guidelines, but often it is up to the individual prosecutor assigned to your case to determine whether you will be allowed to participate. Here, too, it is important to have an experienced defense lawyer who knows how to advocate for his or her clients. Diversion can be a powerful tool for successfully resolving criminal charges.
Criminal Case Process in the Madison Common Pleas Court
Criminal charges can feel overwhelming. It is helpful to understand the case process so that you know what will happen at every step of the way. Here is how cases progress through the Madison Common Pleas Court:
(1) Charges are filed against you.
It might surprise you to learn that not all arrests result in criminal charges. A prosecutor must personally review the evidence from the law enforcement officers to determine whether there is probable cause to file charges against the suspect. If there is, the prosecutor can file charges in one of two ways. First, the prosecutor can file a complaint directly with the court, along with a statement of probable cause for your arrest. This “direct filing” method is a quicker process. It is also more vulnerable to challenges by the defendant because it relies on only the prosecutor’s discretion.
A prosecutor can also take the case to a grand jury. If the grand jury finds that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant has committed the offense, it will issue an indictment. The indictment serves as a complaint against the defendant. It also allows the court to issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. Because an indictment relies on a grand jury’s assessment of the case, it is more difficult for a defendant to challenge. The grand jury is not being asked to decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. It is only being asked to determine whether there is enough evidence to charge the defendant with the crime.
In the case of misdemeanors, an officer’s ticket can sometimes act as the complaint. Common examples include trespassing, shoplifting, or traffic violations that constitute misdemeanors. If the charges are minor, the officer can release the defendant on a promise to appear at the court hearing. However: more serious charges (such as felonies) will usually result in a warrant being issued for the defendant’s arrest. He or she will then be processed at a police station and brought before a judge.
(2) You have an initial appearance before a judge.
If you are arrested, you have the right to appear before a judge in a relatively short period of time. This usually occurs within 24 hours of an arrest (though it can take longer on weekends or holidays). The purpose of this appearance is to (1) formally announce the charges against you (an “arraignment”), and (2) allow the judge to determine your release conditions. Sometimes this happens at separate hearings.
It is important to consult with your attorney about your release conditions. The Eighth Amendment protects defendants from excessive bail. This means that you can ask a judge to reduce your bail if you have good cause to do so. Some charges might require GPS monitoring, drug tests, or other conditions. These, too, can be challenged for cause. For example: if the judge orders you to stay away from an area that is between your home and work, you might be granted an exception for your daily commute.
Once your arraignment has been held and release conditions have been set, the judge will set another court date to check on the status of your case. At this point, the attorneys begin their investigations to determine how the case should be resolved.
(3) The attorneys begin exchanging evidence and negotiating a plea deal.
In order to be used at trial, evidence must be disclosed to the other side. This is partly due to the Sixth Amendment right to confront evidence and witnesses against you. This right cannot be protected unless you are aware of these witnesses and evidence before trial. But the defendant is also required to disclose evidence and witnesses to the prosecution. This is because Ohio, like most states, has enacted state rules of criminal procedure that ensure fairness at trial. In order to properly rebut a defense, the prosecutor must be allowed to know what witnesses you intend to call and what evidence you intend to introduce.
The other reason this discovery process is so important is that it gives each attorney an accurate assessment of the case. This allows the attorneys to have honest, productive conversations about whether a plea deal is possible. A defendant is in a better bargaining position if there is weak evidence in the prosecutor’s case. This gives the prosecutor an incentive to offer a better plea deal in order to avoid the risk of an acquittal at trial.
If the parties are able to agree to a plea deal, it can be entered with the court at any time prior to trial. (Sometimes these plea deals are accepted on the very day of trial.) The court will set a “change of plea hearing.” There, the defendant will formally change his or her plea from not guilty to guilty, and the parties will enter their agreement with the court. If the judge is satisfied that the defendant understands his or her rights and is voluntarily waiving the right to trial, the agreement will be accepted. The judge can also reject the plea agreement for other legal grounds. If plea negotiations break down, the parties must prepare for trial.
(4) Evidentiary issues can be resolved at a pretrial hearing.
In many cases, the attorneys have disagreements about the evidence to be presented at trial. There are many different laws that govern the admissibility of evidence. Case law, state statutes, local rules of procedure, and Rules of Evidence (both federal and state) can make it difficult to know whether a particular piece of evidence can be presented to the jury. When the attorneys cannot agree, a judge must resolve the dispute.
In order to prevent the jury from hearing about the evidence, these disputes are handled before a trial begins. The attorney who is seeking to admit or exclude evidence can file a motion to that effect. The other attorney then has an opportunity to file a written response, stating the legal reasons for opposing the motion. The court will usually schedule a hearing on the matter. At the hearing, the attorneys can make oral arguments about evidence. The court will then issue a ruling on whether the evidence can be admitted at trial.
Once all pretrial matters have been resolved, the case can be scheduled for trial. Ohio, like most other states, has a “speedy trial” statute that protects defendants from unnecessary delays. Defendants have the right to go to trial within the time set forth in the statute. (This varies, based upon the potential penalties for the offense.) If the delays are due to the prosecutor’s unpreparedness, the case can be dismissed altogether. This is, of course, rare, but it is important for defendants to understand this right and hold prosecutors accountable when they begin to ask for delays.
Trials generally proceed as follows:
- The jury is selected and empaneled.
- The judge gives preliminary instructions to the jury.
- The prosecutor makes opening arguments.
- The defense attorney makes opening arguments.
- The prosecutor presents his or her case (with the defense attorney having the right to cross-examine witnesses as they are called).
- The defendant presents his or her case (with the prosecutor having the right to cross-examine witnesses as they are called).
- The prosecutor makes closing arguments.
- The defense attorney makes closing arguments.
- The judge gives final instructions to the jury.
- The jury deliberates.
- If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, he or she will be processed, then free to go. If the defendant is found guilty, the case will be set for sentencing. The defendant must remain in law enforcement custody if the conviction carries a mandatory prison term.
(6) Sentencing (if convicted)
Ohio state law determines sentencing ranges based upon the severity of an offense. Judges have the authority to order a sentence within this range and also set other conditions (like probation, supervised release, community service, and fines). This is why it is important to be represented by an experienced defense attorney who knows what arguments are persuasive to a judge at sentencing. Your attorney can have a dramatic effect on the sentence you receive simply by preparing a strong legal argument in favor of a more lenient sentence.
(7) Post-conviction matters (if necessary)
Even after a conviction and sentencing, there might still be legal issues to resolve. An appeal might be necessary if there were improper procedures or violations of the law at your trial. A sentence can also be challenged if it is not authorized by Ohio state law, or if it violated your Eighth Amendment protections against excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. Even after your sentence is served, you might need the assistance of a defense attorney to expunge your criminal record or restore your civil rights.
You Have Legal Protections Before a Case is Filed in the Madison Common Pleas Court
It is important to understand the legal rights that protect you before a case is filed in any court. When law enforcement officers question you about a suspected offense, they often try to make you feel as if you must answer all of their questions. This is not the case. The Fifth Amendment protects you against self-incrimination. This does not just protect you from testifying at trial – it also protects you from having to make incriminating statements to the police. Anything you say to the police can be incriminating. A common example is an officer who stops a suspected drunk driver. Officers will almost always ask the driver, “how much have you had to drink tonight?” The answer to this question can be incriminating. Any answer the driver gives could be an admission that he or she was driving while intoxicated.
The Sixth Amendment also provides you with the right to seek an attorney’s advice. This means that you can decline to answer an officer’s questions until you have consulted with an attorney. If you clearly invoke this right by making a clear statement that you want to speak to an attorney, the police cannot ask you any incriminating questions until you have had the opportunity to speak with an attorney. The Supreme Court has heard many cases about this specific issue. Their opinions have clearly stated the suspect’s right to stop questioning when he or she asks to speak with an attorney.
The Supreme Court has also ruled that law enforcement officers must advise you of these constitutional protections when you are taken into custody. This is why suspects are given the familiar Miranda Warnings when they are arrested. In 1963, the United States Supreme Court ruled on the case of Miranda v. Arizona. They held that suspects must be advised of their right to remain silent (and not make incriminating statements in violation of their Fifth Amendment protections), as well as the right to an attorney (as provided by the Sixth Amendment). If the police fail to give these warnings to a suspect in custody, any incriminating statements made can be excluded from trial.
As you can see, there are important constitutional rights that protect you long before formal charges are filed in court. This is why it is important to consult with a defense attorney as soon as you become aware of a police investigation against you. An attorney can help protect your legal rights during these critical stages, which can, in turn, make it easier to resolve charges that are later filed against you.
Q&A for Madison Common Pleas Court Criminal Charges
What should I wear to court?
It is important to dress and behave respectfully in front of the judge. By wearing something a little nicer than your everyday clothing, you show the judge and prosecutor that you are taking your case seriously. Think of how you would dress for a job interview or church. Wear neat, clean clothing. Be sure your phone is on silent and will not ring or vibrate while you are in the courtroom. Do not use your cell phone in front of the judge.
Where should I sit when my case is called?
Your attorney will direct you where to sit when first entering the courtroom, and later when your case is called before the judge. Traditionally, the prosecutor takes the table closest to the jury box, and the defendant takes the table further away from the jury. Of course, this rule does not apply to all courtrooms or furniture placements. Follow your attorney’s guidance when you get to your assigned courtroom.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Your attorney will let you know if you need to bring any particular documents or information to court. This is not usually necessary at the preliminary hearings and appearances leading up to a trial. Unless your case is over, there will be a new hearing date set at the end of your court appearance. Be sure you know your availability or have your calendar with you. If your calendar is on your phone, it is permissible to use your phone at this point in the hearing, but only to check your calendar.
Will I need to say anything?
Your attorney will do most of the talking at your court appearances. The judge might ask you basic questions, such as your name and date of birth, in order to confirm your identity. The judge might also ask questions to confirm that you understand what is happening in your case and that you agree with your attorney’s statements. The decisions you make at preliminary hearings must be made voluntarily. The judge has an obligation to make sure you understand your legal rights and are agreeing to your decisions with coercion.
What if the victim decides not to press charges? Will my case be dismissed?
Popular crime dramas and other television programs love to discuss victims “pressing charges.” They leave the impression that the victim can decide whether to file a criminal case. This is not how criminal cases work. Here in the United States, the law does not allow for private prosecutions of criminal offenses. Criminal cases are only filed by a prosecutor. The prosecutor is the only one who gets to decide whether to file charges and whether to dismiss the charges. In certain cases, the defendant can ask the court to dismiss charges for a lack of evidence, but this is the court’s decision – not the victim’s.
The victim can decide whether or not to cooperate with the prosecutor. If the victim recants his or her statements, does not want to testify, or otherwise declines to work with the prosecutor, the prosecutor must decide whether he or she has enough evidence to pursue the case without the victim’s cooperation. In many cases, there is other evidence that can be used to convict the defendant. There might be a weapon or DNA evidence. There might be other witnesses who saw what happened. With other evidence, the prosecutor can maintain a case against the defendant, even without the victim’s cooperation.
Of course, the victim is a powerful witness in a criminal case. Some prosecutors do choose to dismiss charges if the victim will not cooperate. Other times, the prosecutor’s case is weakened by the victim’s lack of participation, and this makes it easier to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. There are many things that can happen when a victim chooses not to cooperate with the prosecutor. It is important to consult with an experienced defense attorney about what impact this will have on your case, and what the best strategy is for resolving the charges against you.
Should I take a plea deal?
The decision to plead guilty or take your case to trial is an important one. It depends on many different factors, and the answer varies from case to case. This is why it is so important to consult with an attorney about the specific circumstances of your particular case. You must honestly assess your chances of being acquitted at trial. This is affected by the strength of the prosecutor’s case against you as well as the strength of witnesses and evidence you can present in your own defense. Even if you run the risk of losing at trial, this does not mean you should automatically accept a plea deal. It is important to consider whether the prosecutor is offering a fair plea deal.
It is also important to fully understand the consequences of a plea deal before you agree to take it. For example, the Brady Bill permanently bans handguns from being owned by anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense in the United States. The offense can be a misdemeanor or a felony. “Domestic violence” is defined by federal law, so this ban can apply even if your conviction was not designated as a domestic violence offense under state law. This ban is permanent, and it cannot be appealed. You can see why it is important to understand all the consequences of a conviction before you agree to plead guilty to any offense.
Is it possible to have my criminal record expunged?
Some states do not allow adults to expunge a criminal record at all. This can have a devastating effect on your ability to secure a job, housing, credit, and other important things as you rebuild your life after a criminal conviction. Luckily, Ohio law does provide a procedure for sealing your court record in Section 2953.32 of the Ohio Revised Code. You must wait a specified length of time after the final discharge of your case. The length of time depends on the number of charges and whether they were felonies or misdemeanors. Once your application is filed, the prosecutor’s office must be notified, and a hearing must be set before the court. This gives the prosecutor’s office an opportunity to object to having your record sealed (if there are legal grounds for an objection).
There are specific eligibility requirements in order to have your record sealed. Beyond, the court also has the authority to deny a request. You must convince the court that you meet the legal requirements for having a record sealed, and that you will continue to abide by the law. It is important to work with an experienced expungement attorney before you file an application to have your record sealed. An attorney will be able to determine whether you are eligible (and if not, what you need to do to become eligible). An attorney will also be able to identify the evidence and arguments that will be most persuasive to a judge. This will improve your chances of having a record sealed successfully.
Madison Common Pleas 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 Common Pleas 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 Court of Common Pleas Judge: Eamon Costello
Madison County Prosecutor: Stephen J. Pronai
Criminal Division of the Madison County Prosecutor
Madison Legal, Community and Mental Health Resources
Legal problems are often accompanied by physical, social and mental health challenges. It is important not to overlook these issues. By addressing both the underlying causes of criminal charges and the collateral problems associated with them, you can prove to the court that you have support and are building a crime-free life.
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 Law Enforcement
10 E. First Street
London, Ohio 43140
Records requests: email@example.com
Chief: Glenn Nicol
Non Emergency: 740-852-1414
1 South London Street
Mount Sterling, Ohio 43143
Fax: (740) 869-3442
Non Emergency: (740) 869-2211
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
Madison Common Pleas Court Location and Contact Information
The Madison Common Pleas Court is located in downtown London, Ohio. It is within the county complex on the west side of the intersection of Main Street and High Street. This complex consists of the sheriff’s office and the county courthouse. The courthouse building houses the Court of Common Pleas and the Madison County Clerk of Courts. The court is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Be sure to allow plenty of time to park and find your assigned courtroom so you are not late to your hearing.
Learn How a Madison Common Pleas Court Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
When you are facing criminal allegations in Madison County Court of Common Pleas, you want to have a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Having the right attorney can often be the difference between an overly harsh outcome or walking away without a conviction. Contact The Joslyn Law Firm online or by calling (614) 444-1900 right away.