Criminal Defense

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and are consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced criminal defense lawyers in Columbus, OH and all of central Ohio. Experience matters when dealing with these cases, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case-by-case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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(614) 444-1900

Columbus, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorneys

Contact Our Nationally-Recognized Ohio Criminal Defense Law Firm Today To Retain an Experienced Lawyer

Each and every day, people in and around the Columbus area get arrested on suspicion of a wide variety of criminal offenses. In many cases, a prosecutor will then issue criminal charges for one or more offenses, putting into motion a criminal case that can take weeks, months, or even years to resolve. The criminal justice process in Columbus is stressful and confusing, and your freedom, finances, and future are at stake. Since there is so much on the line, your first call should be to seek help from a respected and experienced Columbus criminal defense attorney.

Columbus, Ohio Criminal Defense AttorneysAt the Joslyn Law Firm, we know all too well that the criminal system can be unfair and unjust for defendants. Law enforcement officers regularly engage in misconduct and violate the constitutional rights of arrestees. Prosecutors may bring false or inflated charges, seeking overly harsh penalties for defendants. The best protection you can have from this often corrupt system in Columbus is to have a criminal defense lawyer from Joslyn Law Firm by your side.

You do not have to deal with your criminal case alone, and you shouldn’t do so. Outcomes of criminal cases can affect you for the rest of your life, so you should always have the help of an attorney who will fight for your rights and the best possible outcome. Our Columbus criminal defense attorneys take on tough cases, as we passionately believe that every person deserves fairness from the criminal justice system.

The legal team at the Joslyn Law Firm is proud to be recognized as a top criminal defense firm in Columbus and throughout Ohio. Brian Joslyn was named one of the top ten criminal defense attorneys in Ohio by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has been recognized by Columbus CEO Magazine and the National Trial Lawyers Association. Our attorneys strive every day to continue to achieve successful outcomes for our clients and to set an example for criminal defense firms in the Columbus area.

Discussing criminal allegations can be uncomfortable for some people. Know that the legal team at the Joslyn Law Firm handles every consultation and case without judgment, no matter what charges you face. If you would like to discuss your situation, please call (614) 444-1900 or contact us online to tell us about your case and learn how we may help you.

Below, please find our Columbus criminal defense information center. While this can provide you with brief answers regarding the criminal cases in the Columbus area, you should always call our office for free to discuss your specific arrest and charges.

Columbus Criminal Defense Information Center 

  1. Columbus Criminal Defense Overview – What is the Meaning of Criminal Defense?
  2. Importance of a Criminal Defense Lawyer
  3. Columbus Criminal Investigations
  4. Types of Cases Handled by Our Columbus Criminal Lawyers
  5. Criminal Courts in Columbus
  6. Columbus Criminal Court Process
  7. Ohio Criminal Conviction Penalties
  8. Possible Criminal Defenses in an Ohio Criminal Case
  9. Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbus, Ohio
  10. Criminal Defense Resources
  11. Columbus Criminal Defense Questions and Answers
  12. Columbus Criminal News and Articles

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1. Columbus Criminal Defense Overview – What is the Meaning of Criminal Defense?

A criminal defense is an argument that is strategically constructed, typically by a criminal defense lawyer, to challenge the legitimacy and adequacy of the evidence provided by the prosecution, which is the party trying to prove the criminal charges against the defendant. In many cases, the prosecution is referred to as the state (where the crime was allegedly committed), the people, or the United States (for federal crimes). There are many types of criminal defenses that serve to aid in the dismissal of criminal charges against a defendant.

The law in Ohio sets out many criminal offenses, as well as hundreds of possible traffic violations. These cases are separate matters from civil court cases, and the courts handle them in line with Ohio criminal procedures and rules. Criminal defendants have numerous rights under the United States Constitution, and it is critical to have a defense attorney who knows how to stand up for those rights.

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2. Importance of a Criminal Defense LawyerJoslyn Law Firm Importance Of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Defendants are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The role of the defense attorney and their goal is to make sure their client benefits from the defense lawyer’s knowledge of the law and a comprehensive understanding of the rights entitled to the defendant.

A defense attorney, also known as a criminal justice lawyer, represents defendants charged in criminal matters in state courts, federal courts, and courts of appeals (appellate courts). A criminal defense lawyer has the important task of defending their client’s rights to due process of the law after being accused of a crime. The job of the defense lawyer encompasses the entire process from an arrest, to the investigation of the crime, criminal charges brought onto the defendant, sentencing procedure, appeals made post-sentencing, and any issues that arise after the trial.

In order to prove guilt, a prosecutor must prove all elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden of proof in our justice system. While defendants have the right to a jury trial, many choose to plead guilty or no contest to their charges instead of going to trial. A criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors to reach a plea bargain, which may allow you to plead guilty to reduced charges or receive a lesser sentence, such as probation instead of time in jail. This is only one of many reasons why defendants with a skilled criminal defense lawyer regularly receive more favorable outcomes than unrepresented defendants.

In some cases, a defense attorney can successfully argue that the prosecutor or court should dismiss your charges, or a jury may find you not guilty. However, if you plead guilty or a jury finds you are guilty, a criminal conviction will go on your permanent record and the judge will order you to serve a sentence, which may include probation, fines, imprisonment, and more. Criminal convictions can also have lasting consequences that can affect your personal and professional life.

Facing criminal charges is stressful and can even be frightening. You may not know how to protect your rights or avoid a wrongful conviction or sentence that is disproportionate to the charge. The best thing you can do in this situation is to consult with an experienced and respected Columbus criminal defense lawyer who can guide you through every step of your case and fight for your rights.

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3. Columbus Criminal Investigations

Many criminal cases begin before an arrest – and before a defendant even realizes it. Often, law enforcement agencies will start with an investigation into a reported crime before they have probable cause to obtain a warrant and make an arrest. This is a common situation when police do not directly observe a crime occurring and must determine who committed the offense.

Defense Attorney in Columbus, Ohio - Joslyn Law FirmBoth state and federal authorities can make arrests and bring criminal charges. In the Columbus area, a criminal investigation may be conducted by the Columbus Police Department, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, or a combination of agencies. If authorities suspect a violation of federal law, many different federal agencies may conduct investigations, depending on the nature of the offense. Such agencies can include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the United States Secret Service (USSS), or even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax-related offenses. 

When authorities are investigating a possible crime, they will often seek to interview possible suspects. If you receive a call to go to the police station for a discussion or receive any other indication you may be under investigation, you should stop and immediately call an Ohio criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer can begin helping you before charges are even filed and can advise you and advocate for you during an investigation.

Some people think that hiring a defense attorney during a criminal investigation only makes them seem guilty and can put them in a negative position with police and prosecutors. Instead, having defense representation indicates to authorities that you are ready to protect yourself and fight against allegations. It shows them that you will not be coerced into confessing to a crime you did not commit or otherwise surrendering to unsubstantiated charges.

Whether police want to ask you questions or want to search your home, our criminal defense lawyers will protect your rights. We will advise you that you do not have to answer questions or make any statements that may go against your best interests. We will ensure that authorities have the necessary warrants to conduct searches, so your 4th Amendment rights are not violated.

When police want to question you, they may call it an “interview” when, in reality, they want to interrogate you. Police officers have many tactics to get statements and information during an investigation. They may tell you they are simply trying to clear your name when you are actually the main suspect. They may promise you that if you cooperate and answer their questions, they can help to prevent charges against you, though they are trying to get you to make any incriminating statements. They may ask for your consent to search your home, assuring you it is routine and they do not expect to find anything, but they are ready to find any evidence connecting you to a crime. In short, you should never trust what law enforcement officers say during an investigation and instead, trust your defense attorney’s advice. Your attorney can be present during police interactions and address all questioning themselves, so you do not risk accidentally saying something that may be used against you.

Investigations by the Columbus Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department

When someone reports a crime in Columbus, either the Columbus Police Department (CPD) or the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department will likely investigate the matter. If patrol officers are unable to locate and arrest a suspect right away after a crime, they will likely collect as much evidence as possible at the scene and write a police report. The reports and evidence from unsolved or serious crimes will then be investigated by detectives in the Investigative Division or the CPD’s Strategic Response Bureau. Often, detectives will collect substantial evidence and develop theories before they identify any suspect. When they finally make an arrest, it is common for detectives to try to make the suspect fit into their theories, which can often lead to wrongful arrests and charges. 

Investigations by Federal Agencies

The situation can become significantly more serious if you are under investigation by federal authorities. Federal agencies often focus on serious criminal offenses involving complex schemes, including drug trafficking, racketeering, high-dollar white collar and fraud crimes, kidnapping, terrorism, and similar conduct. If federal agents are investigating you, it may mean you will soon face serious charges and a possibly lengthy prison sentence if you are convicted.

It is also important to realize that federal agencies have large budgets that allow them to mount lengthy and complex investigations before they make any arrests. In many cases, authorities may have piles of evidence in a case before you even realize an investigation is occurring. The first moment you suspect you may be under investigation, you should contact a highly skilled and respected criminal defense lawyer at the Joslyn Law Firm who understands how to defend against criminal charges in federal court.

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4. Types of Criminal Cases Handled by Our Criminal Lawyers in Columbus

Top Criminal Defense Lawyers in Columbus, OH - Joslyn Law FirmEach criminal case is unique, and offenses are generally divided into three categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic violations. Many criminal defense attorneys focus their practice on relatively minor offenses, such as traffic violations or driving under the influence (DUI). At the Joslyn Law Firm, Brian Joslyn and his team of attorneys have the experience and skill to handle all types of criminal cases, no matter how serious the allegations may be. We know how to approach each type of case to put our clients in the best possible position from the very start. The following are some examples of the cases we handle on a regular basis.

Common Columbus, Ohio Felony Charges

Felonies are the most serious category of criminal offenses, and they come with the harshest penalties. Ohio law further classifies felony offenses as first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, fourth-degree, or fifth-degree based on the seriousness of the crime. Murder does not fit into a classification but is considered to be the most serious crime, above a first-degree felony. Our firm handles many felony cases with potentially harsh penalties.

Drug charges

Ohio authorities take all drug-related crimes very seriously. Common offenses include drug possession, possession with the intent to distribute, manufacture, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Any controlled substance can result in drug charges, including prescription medications for which you do not have a valid prescription. The penalties for drug offenses depend on the type and amount of drugs you allegedly possessed, as well as other factors, including your alleged intent to sell the drugs, your proximity to a school, and more.

Weapons and gun charges

While Ohio has open carry gun laws, there are still strict regulations concerning many aspects of gun and weapons possession. For example, you can be arrested if you carry a concealed firearm in your vehicle or on your person without the necessary license. You also cannot give or sell a firearm or handgun to minors (of different ages depending on the situation), and you may not possess a deadly weapon on the property of a school. Most people with domestic violence restraining orders, felony charges, or felony convictions cannot possess weapons without first petitioning a court. You cannot possess certain types of weapons such as automatic firearms or explosives, or possess firearms in bars or while you are drinking. Additionally, the penalties for certain crimes can be enhanced significantly if someone used a firearm or deadly weapon in the commission of the crime.

Theft and fraud offenses

The category of “theft” crimes involves a wide range of acts that involve taking money or property without proper authority. Theft charges can stem from simply taking something that was not yours from someone’s house, stealing a car, shoplifting, and more. Theft can also involve using fraudulent means for wrongful personal gain, such as identity theft, insurance fraud, health care fraud, and other schemes. While theft crimes may seem less serious because no one gets physically injured, you can face felony charges and harsh penalties, often based on the value of the stolen property.

Financial crimes

Crimes motivated by a financial gain that do not involve physical harm or threats are commonly referred to as “white collar” crimes. There are many white collar financial offenses under the law, including embezzlement, investment or mortgage fraud, bribery, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, bank fraud, credit card fraud, and forgery, among many others. Like theft crimes, these offenses can have serious consequences, especially when they involve large sums of money.

Property crimes

Some crimes involve another person’s property, often causing destruction to that property. While some property crimes are misdemeanors, there are some serious property-related felony offenses in Ohio. For example, burglary is a felony charge that involves entering a habitation with or without people present in the habitation, intending to commit a crime inside. Breaking and entering can also be charged as a felony in many situations. Arson is another serious felony property crime. Robbery is another serious offense that involves forcibly taking property from another person by using violence or the threat of violence. All of these felony property crimes can result in imprisonment and you need a strong defense.

Sex crimes

Sex crimes come in many forms, many of which constitute felony offenses. One common sex offense allegation is child pornography, which can result from even having a single image on a computer or in an email. Sexual assault is also a common accusation that results when someone accuses you of sexual contact without their consent or when they were unable to consent. Many sex crime charges arise from subjective or misunderstood situations, and there may be little concrete evidence of a crime. Still, the penalties for a conviction can be severe and may include registering as a sex offender for years to come.

Strangulation Offenses 

The laws in Ohio were updated in April 2023 changing strangulation offenses from misdemeanor to felony charges. It is important to understand the circumstances surrounding a strangulation charge since there can be a misunderstanding or self-defense component to the case. The consequences for a strangulation conviction have gotten much stricter, individuals found guilty could be looking at up to eight years in prison.

Jurisdiction of Federal District Courts in OhioFederal offenses

When an act violates federal law, the federal authorities may decide to prosecute you in federal district court. Federal criminal courts work differently than state courts in many ways, and a criminal defense attorney must have a special license to practice in federal court. Federal cases often involve serious allegations of large-scale criminal activity, and federal sentencing guidelines can be particularly harsh. If you are accused of any type of federal offense, you should call the Joslyn Law Firm immediately.

These are only some of many felony cases our criminal defense attorneys handle. Whether your case involves a plea bargain or goes to trial, we are ready to aggressively defend against your charges and protect your rights.

Columbus, Ohio Misdemeanor Charges

You may think that hiring a lawyer is not necessary for a misdemeanor crime. After all, it is not a felony offense and most people consider misdemeanors to be relatively minor matters. However, you should always remember that misdemeanor convictions can still result in jail time, probation, and/or costly fines. A conviction can still have lasting consequences for your life, even after you complete a sentence. It is just as important to have a skilled defense for a misdemeanor case as it is for any other criminal matter. The Joslyn Law Firm handles all types of misdemeanors, including the following.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence allegations can vary widely. In many cases, a report of domestic violence will result in misdemeanor charges. However, the alleged victim will also often seek a protective order after reporting domestic violence. This order can keep you from contacting the alleged victim, seeing your children, or even going back to your house. While complying with a protective order can be challenging in certain situations, violating an order will only result in further trouble with the criminal courts.

Operating a vehicle under the influence/Driving under the influence (OVI/DUI)

Ohio law refers to driving under the influence (DUI) as “operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI). OVI/DUI is one of the most common criminal offenses, and people get arrested in Columbus on suspicion of OVI/DUI every single day. Even a first-time OVI charge can result in many consequences, such as fines, probation, driver’s license suspension, or jail time. Having a skilled DUI defense lawyer can help you get your charges reduced to reckless driving or dismissed altogether when possible. 

Petty theft

When a theft crime in Ohio involves less than $1,000 in allegedly stolen money or property, it is commonly referred to as “petty theft.” This is a misdemeanor charge, and theft of $1,000 or more is charged as a felony. Convictions for petty theft crimes can result in fines, restitution, and additional penalties, which can be enhanced if someone has any prior theft-related convictions. 

Traffic offenses

Most people do not consider traffic offenses to be crimes, though these cases are also handled in Columbus criminal courts. When you get pulled over and an officer claims to have probable cause to believe you violated the law, they can issue a citation or even place you under arrests. Arrests are common for more serious driving violations, including OVI/DUI, driving on a suspended license, reckless driving, and more. In any situation, you should discuss your options with an experienced criminal defense attorney before you pay a ticket or take any other action. Too many people do not realize that paying a ticket is a guilty plea, and that it can result in points on your driver’s license or even the suspension of your license.

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5. Criminal Courthouses in Columbus

Columbus Ohio Criminal Defense Attorneys at the State LevelAfter an arrest or traffic citation in Columbus, you may imagine that all criminal cases are heard in the same building in front of the same judges. However, the criminal court system in Columbus is more complicated than that, as your case may be assigned to one of several courts in the area. It is important to have an attorney with experience handling cases in your specific court, and who understands the rules and procedures of that court. The Joslyn Law Firm regularly practices in the following criminal courts in the Columbus area. 

Franklin County Common Pleas Court

369 South High Street

Columbus, Ohio 43215

The Common Pleas Courts in Ohio have jurisdiction over felony criminal charges, and each Ohio county has its own Common Pleas Court. If a grand jury indicts you on one or more felony charges, if your case is bound over after a preliminary hearing, or if you waive your right to a preliminary hearing, the rest of your case will continue in the Common Pleas Court. 

Franklin County Municipal Court

375 South High Street

Columbus, Ohio 43215

The municipal courts in Ohio oversee many misdemeanor and traffic violation cases. Your misdemeanor or traffic case may also be transferred into municipal court under certain circumstances. For example, if your case was originally assigned to a Mayor’s Court and you want to exercise your right to a jury trial, your attorney will likely transfer into municipal court. In addition, your case may be transferred if you want to appeal a decision by a Mayor’s Court magistrate. Municipal courts also can hold preliminary hearings when a prosecutor is trying to issue felony charges.

Franklin County Juvenile Court

373 South High Street

Columbus, Ohio 43215

The Franklin County Common Pleas Court has a Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch that oversees criminal allegations against minors. While some minors can be charged as adults and have their cases handled in regular criminal court, many juvenile cases are heard by judges in the juvenile division. They can hear cases involving accusations of delinquency, as well as criminal acts. The juvenile courts have special procedures, and you should always seek help from a lawyer who understands how to represent juveniles.

Columbus Mayor’s Courts

One unique aspect of Ohio criminal courts is the existence of Mayor’s Courts throughout the state. A case may be assigned to a Mayor’s Court within the municipality where their arrest occurred if their conduct violated a local ordinance. Mayor’s Court cases are not heard by judges, but instead by a magistrate appointed by the local mayor or by the mayors themselves. Mayor’s Courts only hold bench trials, in which the judge serves as the fact-finder and renders the finding of guilty or not guilty. If you want a jury trial, your lawyer can seek to transfer your case to municipal court. The following are some locations of Mayor’s Courts in the Columbus area to which your misdemeanor or traffic case may be assigned:

  • Bexley
  • Canal Winchester
  • Dublin
  • Gahanna
  • Grandview Heights
  • Grove City
  • Groveport
  • Hilliard
  • Marble Cliff
  • New Albany
  • Obetz
  • Reynoldsburg
  • Upper Arlington
  • Valleyview
  • Westerville
  • Whitehall
  • Worthington

No matter which court is set to oversee your case, the criminal defense lawyers at the Joslyn Law Firm can help.

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6. Columbus Criminal Court Process

Columbus Ohio Courthouse - Criminal Defense Attorneys Near MeWhile the details of each criminal case in Columbus may be different, there is a relatively standard criminal process followed in most situations, governed by the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure. Not every case will go through all steps of the process, however. For example, for a traffic violation, your case can often be resolved fairly early in the process and will not require any further hearings or stages of the criminal process. A felony case, on the other hand, can take much longer, as these cases can require preliminary hearings, motion practice, numerous pretrial conferences, and more. The following is a general overview of the criminal process in Columbus and throughout Ohio.

Arrest or Summons

Law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in Columbus have the authority to arrest people or issue citations when they have a warrant or probable cause to believe someone violated the law. A prosecutor will then review the facts of the case, including any evidence of a crime and how the arrest occurred, and will decide whether to issue charges in the matter. If they decide to pursue a case, the prosecutor will file a criminal complaint and the defendant will receive notice of the complaint and of their court date.

Not all criminal cases begin with an arrest, however, as a prosecutor can issue charges against someone who is not in custody. This generally happens after an investigation into a crime, and service of the complaint can then happen in one of two ways:

  • The court mails you a summons to come to your hearing
  • The court issues a warrant for your arrest

The prosecutor can often decide whether to send a summons or get an arrest warrant, usually based on the severity of the alleged offense and other factors.

Criminal Arrest Warrants

When there is a warrant for your arrest, police officers can arrest you on the spot. In some situations, officers may come to your home to arrest you, while in other cases, they may wait until you are stopped while driving or have another type of police encounter to make the arrest. A court may issue a warrant for your arrest if:

  • Police suspect you committed a crime
  • The prosecutor files a criminal complaint against you
  • You fail to appear at a scheduled criminal court date

In order for police to obtain an arrest warrant, they must submit an affidavit to the court that demonstrates probable cause you committed a crime. A warrant cannot lawfully be overly broad or vague and must be based on specific facts that connect you with the crime.

If you believe you may have an active warrant for your arrest, you should contact a Columbus criminal defense lawyer immediately. We can help you address the warrant without you risking an arrest without warning.

Bail and Bond

Once you are arrested, the court may release you on your own recognizance, which means it is trusting you to show up to your court date without any additional security. For many defendants, however, the court will instead set a bond, which is an amount you pay to the court to be released, and this amount can be returned to you at the close of your case. If you fail to appear in court, you surrender the bond amount.

Bond is intended to ensure that defendants appear in court, though many courts may set excessive bond amounts that result in a defendant unnecessarily remaining behind bars because they cannot pay. Bond creates a disparity in which people accused of serious offenses may remain free during their case simply because they can afford the bond, while defendants facing minor charges stay in jail because they cannot afford to pay even a small bond.

The 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from excessive bail and bond. You should have a highly skilled defense lawyer representing you at a bond hearing to ensure any bond is reasonable or to argue you should be released on your own recognizance when possible.

Preliminary Hearing

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Columbus OhioProsecutors cannot pursue felony charges without either a grand jury indictment or a preliminary hearing. Some Ohio counties regularly hold preliminary hearings while others heavily rely on grand jury indictments. If you have a preliminary hearing, the court will determine whether there is substantial credible evidence to support a felony charge, though this does not mean a prosecutor must prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt at this stage of the case. At this hearing, your defense attorney has the opportunity to cross-examine witness and law enforcement officers the prosecutor is using against you. Even if your charges are bound over to felony court, this can be an important tool to discover the strength of the evidence a prosecutor has.


Once you are indicted for any offense, you will have to attend your arraignment hearing. At this hearing, you will hear a reading of the indictment and allegations against you and will then enter your plea. Possible pleas include not guilty, guilty, no contest, or not guilty by reason of insanity. At this stage, too many unrepresented defendants simply plead guilty because they believe they have no other choice. This often results in unnecessarily severe consequences or a wrongful conviction. It is always wise to call an attorney who can represent you at your arraignment and advise you how to plead.

Pretrial Discovery and Motions

Like any type of legal case, the procedural rules allow each side to access the evidence the other side intends to use. Your defense law firm can conduct its own investigation, but it can also obtain the prosecutor’s evidence. This is critical so we can discover how we can challenge this evidence and build the most effective defense for you. Discovery tactics can include requests for information, requests for physical evidence, depositions of witnesses, and more. There are many complex rules of discovery, and it is imperative to have a highly skilled defense lawyer who understands your rights to evidence in your case.

Based on what we learn in discovery, our defense lawyers can then file a variety of motions with the court in your defense. These can include motions to suppress unlawfully obtained evidence, Daubert motions to challenge unreliable scientific or expert testimony, and motions in limine to question the admissibility of evidence at trial, among others. There are strict deadlines and legal requirements for motions, but a successful motion can often result in the dismissal of charges.

Pretrial Conferences and Plea Bargaining

Criminal cases often involve several pretrial conferences. At these conferences, your attorney can raise concerns regarding discovery, scheduling, evidentiary issues, and more. Most importantly, in many cases, pretrial conferences are an opportunity for your defense attorney to engage in discussions and negotiations with the prosecutor to try to reach a favorable plea agreement.

Criminal Defense Law Firm in Columbus, OhioDuring plea bargaining, your defense attorney can point out weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and strengths in your defense. This can cause doubt in the prosecutor that they will prevail at trial, so they may be more willing to offer a plea bargain in your favor. Additionally, your attorney can present all mitigating factors supporting favorable terms of a plea agreement. A plea bargain may involve a reduction of your charges or recommendation of a lesser sentence in exchange for your guilty plea. For example, you may receive a reckless driving conviction instead of OVI/DUI, or you may receive probation instead of any jail time.


While many cases end in a plea bargain, defendants have the right to defend against their charges at a jury trial. This is important as due to the number of wrongful arrests and charges issued. The trial process has its own specific rules and stages, which include:

  • Jury selection (also known as voir dire)
  • Opening statements
  • Prosecutor presents their evidence
  • Cross-examination of prosecutor’s witnesses
  • Defense presents its evidence
  • Cross-examination of defense witnesses
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury instructions by the judge
  • Jury deliberation and verdict
  • Post-trial motions

If you believe you have been wrongfully charged, it is essential that you have a defense lawyer with extensive trial experience. 


If a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, the judge will then order a sentence. Ohio law sets out maximum – and sometimes, minimum – sentences for certain offenses, and the prosecution can recommend a particular sentence to the judge. Your defense attorney can also present mitigating factors to argue for a lesser sentence based on your circumstances.

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7. Ohio Criminal Conviction Penalties

Sentences for criminal convictions in Columbus can vary widely depending on the offense, any aggravating factors, a defendant’s criminal history, and more. The following are some possible penalties for different categories of offenses in Ohio.  

Penalties For Misdemeanor Convictions in Ohio:

  • Minor misdemeanor – $100 fine, no jail time
  • Fourth-degree misdemeanor – $250 fine, 30 days in jail
  • Third-degree misdemeanor – $500 fine, 60 days in jail
  • Second-degree misdemeanor – $750 fine, 90 days in jail
  • First-degree misdemeanor – $1,000 fine, 180 days in jail 

Penalties For Felony Convictions in Ohio: 

  • Fifth-degree felony – $2,500 fine, six to 12 months in prison
  • Fourth-degree felony – $5,000 fine, six to 18 months in prison
  • Third-degree felony – $10,000 fine, nine months to five years in prison
  • Second-degree felony – $15,000 fine, two to eight years in prison
  • First-degree felony – $20,000 fine, three to 11 years in prison
  • Murder – 15 years in prison to a life sentence without parole
  • Aggravated murder – Life sentence with possible parole after 20 years to the death penalty 

Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Ohio

In addition to court-ordered penalties, offenders can experience many lasting consequences of a criminal conviction, sometimes for years after they complete their sentence. Such collateral consequences can include:

  • Deportation or other immigration consequences
  • Sex offender registry
  • Disqualification from certain jobs
  • Difficulty getting hired for jobs
  • Difficulty finding housing
  • Ineligibility for federal aid
  • Ineligibility for certain educational programs or professional licenses
  • Ineligibility for security clearances
  • Higher insurance rates
  • Ignition interlock device on your vehicle

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8. Possible Criminal Defenses in an Ohio Criminal Case

The consequences of a criminal conviction can be wide-reaching and can affect your finances, freedom, and reputation for many years or even the rest of your life. For this reason, it is important to mount an aggressive defense against any criminal charges, even if they seem minor. There are many possible defenses, and those available in your case will depend on the details surrounding your arrest and the specifics of the allegations. Some common defense arguments include:

  • Mistaken identity, including the unreliability of eyewitness identifications
  • Insufficient evidence to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Suppression of key evidence due to 4th Amendment violations
  • Whether an act was knowing and intentional
  • Presenting evidence of an alibi
  • Coercion
  • Entrapment
  • Forensic lab errors
  • False accusations

Your defense attorney should carefully examine all circumstances of your situation and should know how to effectively and zealously present defenses and supporting evidence, as well as challenge the prosecutor’s evidence against you.


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9. Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbus, Ohio

Service Area - Central Ohio Criminal Defense AttorneysWhether you believe you are under investigation for a crime, have been arrested, or already face criminal charges, it is never too soon to consult with a Columbus criminal defense attorney. How do you choose an attorney, though? When hiring a criminal defense lawyer, you want to ensure they have the following:

  • Substantial experience handling criminal cases
  • Experience handling your type of charge
  • Experience in the specific court where your case was assigned
  • Trial experience

In addition, inquire whether the firm has been recognized as a respected leader in the criminal law field. For example, the Joslyn Law Firm and managing attorney Brian Joslyn have received the following recognitions, among many others:

  • Rated Top Ten Criminal Lawyer in Ohio by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys
  • Rated as a SuperLawyers Rising Star
  • Selected as a Top Lawyer by Columbus CEO Magazine
  • Named in the Top Ten best criminal attorneys by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
  • “Superb” Avvo rating for top criminal defense attorney
  • One of the Best Lawyers in America by Top American Lawyers
  • Nominated as one of the 100 Top Trial Lawyers in America

Our attorneys regularly contribute to local media outlets around Columbus regarding matters involving criminal law. As you can see, we are a highly respected firm on local, state, and national levels. Please do not hesitate to call to learn more about the Joslyn Law Firm today.



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10. Criminal Defense Resources


Court-Recognized Drug/Alcohol and Mental Health Centers in Columbus, Ohio 

Columbus Health Department Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program

240 Parsons Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43215

(614) 645-7306

Addiction treatment for men, women, pregnant women, individuals with HIV/AIDS, and hearing-impaired individuals. Provides outpatient counseling, holistic and alternative treatment methods, and court-ordered treatment.

Crossroads Recovery Services, Inc.

1364 South High Street

Columbus, Ohio 43207

(614) 445-0352

Substance abuse treatment, including outpatient and DUI offender treatment.

Maryhaven, Inc

1791 Alum Creek Drive

Columbus, Ohio 43207

(614) 445-8131

Inpatient and outpatient treatment for adults, teens, pregnant women, DUI offenders, and hearing-impaired individuals. Long-term or short-term residential treatment with residential options for the children of clients. 

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health

399 East Main Street

Suite 120

Columbus, Ohio 43215

(614) 355-8550

Addiction treatment for teens, including court-ordered treatment, outpatient counseling, and dual-diagnosis treatment for addiction and mental illness.

Northwest Counseling Services

1560 Fishinger Road

Columbus, Ohio 43221

(614) 457-7876 x329

Outpatient addiction treatment for teens, adults, seniors, hearing-impaired individuals, and court-ordered DUI treatment.

Southeast Healthcare

16 West Long Street

4th Floor

Columbus, Ohio 43215

(614) 225-0990

Outpatient addiction treatment for adults, dual-diagnosis patients with mental illness and addiction, hearing-impaired individuals, Christians, individuals with HIV/AIDS, and court-ordered treatment.

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Criminal Defense Legal Associations, Organizations and Resources

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – Advocacy group with more than 40,000 members worldwide committed to ensuring fairness in the U.S. criminal justice system by promoting due process and the rights of defendants.

Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – Association with both public defenders and private defense attorneys in Ohio as members. The organization provides opportunities for support, information sharing, networking, and more.

American Board of Criminal Lawyers – An exclusive honorary society with criminal defense attorneys as members, seeking to achieve excellence in criminal defense practice and preserve the rights of criminal defendants.

Lawyer Legion Criminal Defense Information Center of Ohio – Visit Lawyer Legion to learn more about the practice of criminal defense law in the state of Ohio, including lawyers and law firms, legal associations, specialty certifications, state courts, and government resources.

National College for DUI Defense®, Inc. (NCDD) – Largest non-profit professional association devoted to the education, training, and recognition of its DUI defense attorney members across the United States.

DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA) – A newer non-profit organization of lawyers striving to achieve excellence in DUI defense across the United States.

Association of Federal Defense Attorneys (AFDA) – An online organization of federal criminal defense lawyers that promotes education, communication, and networking between federal criminal attorneys.

National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) – The NAPD is a non-profit organization that advocates for every defendant’s right to counsel and effective public defense and criminal justice policies.

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11. Columbus Criminal Defense Question and Answers

How long does it take a future indictment to come back?

Often, a prosecutor will seek an indictment as soon as possible. However, in some situations, further investigation may be needed to gather sufficient evidence for an indictment. Just like civil cases, criminal cases in Ohio also have statutes of limitations, which are time limits the prosecutor has to indict you. These time limits include six months for a minor misdemeanor, two years for other misdemeanors, and varied deadlines for different felony offenses. Murder has no statute of limitations.

How do I find out if I have a warrant in Franklin County?

If you missed a court date or otherwise suspect you may have a warrant out in Franklin County, you can search the following two websites:

If you learn you have a warrant, call the Joslyn Law Firm immediately for information about your options.

Can I afford a Columbus criminal defense lawyer?

Our criminal defense attorneys work with clients so they can afford the defense representation they need. Often, not having proper defense assistance can be costlier than paying attorney’s fees. Call for information regarding the costs of your specific case.

Why do you need an experienced Columbus criminal defense attorney?

Unrepresented defendants often do not have proper protection of their rights and receive harsher outcomes than necessary. Law enforcement and prosecutors do not have a defendant’s interests in mind, so you need someone who does. 

Why you need the top Columbus criminal defense lawyers?

Not all criminal defense attorneys have the experience in the Columbus area to present an aggressive and effective defense in every type of case. You should seek out the best possible representation from top respected lawyers to ensure the best possible outcome.

Can police arrest me without evidence of my guilt?

In order to lawfully arrest you, police officers must have a valid warrant or probable cause that you committed a crime. If they cannot present information and evidence to support probable cause, an arrest will be in violation of your 4th Amendment rights. Unfortunately, many police make wrongful arrests without probable cause, and you should hire a defense attorney to argue that an arrest was unlawful.

How long does a criminal case take?

The duration of a criminal case will vary based on the type of offense, whether you want to go to trial or plead guilty, and other factors. Generally, serious felony cases last longer than misdemeanor cases. Some traffic violations may be resolved at the first court date, while felony cases can last months or years.

If I am convicted, how is the sentence determined?

Judges of criminal courts have the discretion to order a specific sentence for a specific defendant. Sentences can depend on many factors, including the minimum and maximum sentences set out by Ohio law, whether any mitigating or aggravating factors exist, whether you have prior convictions on your record, whether you are considered to be a threat to society, and more. Your defense lawyer can argue for a lesser sentence at your sentencing hearing, as well as reach a plea bargain with the prosecutor to recommend a lesser sentence.

How long do you go to jail for drug possession?

Drug possession can be charged in different ways in Ohio, each with its own possible jail sentence. A charge will depend on the type of drug, the quantity of drugs, prior drug-related convictions, whether you were accused of distribution or intent to distribute, whether you were near a school, and other factors. Any jail sentence will be determined on a case-by-case basis and, often, the right defense attorney can help you avoid jail time and instead get probation.

What is the minimum sentence for a felony in Ohio?

There are different degrees of felony charges in Ohio, each with its own sentencing range. For example, a fifth-degree felony comes with a minimum sentence of three months in jail, though you may be able to get a chance at probation instead of serving any jail time. Some felony cases will have mandatory prison time for a conviction, including murder or aggravated murder, attempted rape or rape of a child younger than 13, using or possessing a firearm while committing certain felonies, and more.

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12. Columbus Criminal News and Articles

The criminal justice system is ever-changing, with news of reformed laws, procedures, and policies breaking on a regular basis. You can also learn more about the criminal system by reading about cases in the news. The following are some resources for criminal news and articles in Columbus:

Columbus Dispatch

CBS Columbus

NBC Columbus


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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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