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Misdemeanors and Felonies

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced misdemeanors and felonies lawyers. 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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Misdemeanors and Felonies Lawyer in Columbus, OH

The Ohio Revised Code Title 29 defines criminal laws and the penalties for violations, which the statute classifies as either misdemeanors or felonies, generally based on the seriousness of the offense. These laws also protect people from overzealous law enforcement practices and false allegations. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Columbus, Ohio, it is important that you protect your rights as a criminal defendant. Too much can go wrong, and in an instant, your life could be forever changed.

Joslyn Law Firm has defended more than 20,000 criminal cases in Ohio. Brian Joslyn, who as a teen was a victim of police brutality, understands how overwhelming the criminal justice process can be for a defendant. He has dedicated his life to ensuring that every defendant has the benefit of passionate representation from someone who knows the law and cares about applying it to help the accused.

Joslyn’s experience, combined with his personal familiarity with Columbus courts, judges, prosecutors, and courtroom staff, will only benefit your case. He knows how different prosecutors and judges approach different types of misdemeanors and felonies, and he will use this knowledge to get the best result for your case.

Columbus Misdemeanor and Felony Defense Lawyer

In Ohio, there are two types of criminal acts: felonies and misdemeanors. Each comprises varying degrees with a range of punishments. Penalties for each degree are defined via statute or state ordinance and apply to all offenses in their respective classifications, ranging from minor social infractions to premeditated murder.

A Leading Source of Criminal Law Knowledge for the Media

Brian Joslyn, principal attorney at Joslyn Law Firm, is an authority on these laws and has become a leading source of criminal law knowledge for newspapers like The Columbus Dispatch and The Plain Dealer and news stations like 6 ABC, 4 NBC, 28 FOX, and 10 WBNS.

We Are Nationally Recognized for Our Ability to Help Criminal Defendants

Knowing the law and being able to effectively apply it are two different things. When you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, the potential outcomes of your case are dictated by the degree of your charge. Both misdemeanors and felonies typically comprise different degrees, with the first degree generally constituting the most serious offense with the harshest penalties.

It is important to retain a lawyer who understands the elements of proof and appropriate defense strategies for each offense and can apply this knowledge effectively to have cases dismissed or charges reduced, thereby softening the penalties.

Joslyn’s ability to navigate Ohio statutes, case strategy, and courtroom litigation has won him recognition from multiple esteemed authorities. Via the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system, Joslyn’s peers in the legal community gave him with the highest peer rating standard, the AV Preeminent rating, a designation reserved for attorneys with the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards. Columbus CEO named Joslyn a “Top Lawyer,” and the legal rating service Super Lawyers recognized him as a “Rising Star.”

Call Us for a Free Consultation

Joslyn Law Firm is eager to help you with your criminal case in Columbus, and the surrounding areas in Ohio, including Delaware, Dublin, Westerville, London, West Jefferson, Newark, Lancaster, Circleville, Pataskala, Pickerington, and Ashville.

Joslyn and his associates will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome to your alleged offense. Call the Joslyn Law Firm for a consultation today.


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Misdemeanors and Felonies in Columbus Information Center


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Misdemeanor Offenses in Columbus

Between the two categories of criminal offenses in Ohio, misdemeanors comprise the less serious crimes. Although a misdemeanor offender faces lighter penalties than someone convicted of a felony, a misdemeanor conviction can still prompt a jail sentence and substantial fines.

In Ohio, misdemeanors classify according to the severity of the type of offense. Degrees of offenses start at fourth-degree misdemeanors and escalate to first-degree misdemeanors. A separate classification exists for minor misdemeanors.

The Ohio Revised Code classifies various types of conduct—including traffic violations—as misdemeanors. Specific examples of misdemeanors in the state include:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Petty theft
  • Assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Illegal cultivation of marijuana
  • Criminal trespass
  • Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (OVI)
  • Criminal mischief
  • Abuse of a corpse
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Revenge porn

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Felony Crimes in Columbus

The most severe type of felony offense is aggravated murder, which is followed by murder. Both are purposeful, specific intent crimes; however, aggravated murder can be committed during the commission of an underlying felony, such as kidnapping, rape, or robbery. Murder offenses are categorized in varying degrees of felonies, ranging from the first degree to the fifth degree.

Ohio Revised Code Title 29 lists the most serious offenses, which include:

  • Homicide, assault, and menacing threats
  • Kidnapping, abduction, false imprisonment, extortion, and coercion
  • Patient abuse and neglect
  • Rape and other sexual assaults, prostitution, obscenity, and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles
  • Arson and other property damage offenses
  • Burglary, robbery, breaking and entering, safe cracking, and trespassing
  • Theft, writing bad checks, and credit card offenses
  • Forgery, fraud, and other theft offenses
  • Gambling and inciting violence
  • Riot disorderly conduct and false alarms
  • Certain aspects of abortion, failure to support, endangering children, and domestic violence
  • Bribery, perjury, resisting arrest, harboring criminals, escape, graft, conflict of interest, dereliction of public duty, and violation of civil rights
  • Conspiracy, attempt, and complicity
  • Weapons and explosives control
  • Corrupt activity (racketeering)
  • Drug offenses, including possession, sale, manufacture, and cultivation

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Penalties for Misdemeanors and Felonies in Franklin County

As misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes, the penalties that correspond to a conviction are substantially less severe than the penalties attached to a felony conviction.

What Penalties Follow a Misdemeanor Conviction?

In Ohio, the minimum penalty for any misdemeanor offense is no less than six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. The penalty will typically involve community service, along with some type of financial sanctions and court costs. Fines are generally more common than jail time for misdemeanor offenses.

Minor misdemeanors, which are less serious offenses, can result in a fine of $150 or less, without time in jail. Misdemeanor offenses can range from littering to drunk driving and assault.

What Penalties Follow a Felony Conviction?

Felonies, which are generally the most serious types of crimes, can result in penalties ranging from six months or more in state prison up to a death sentence for certain offenses. Alleged felony offenders typically face punishment in the form of prison sentences, community service, and/or fines.

Felony offenders can be sentenced to local jails or community facilities, but violent felons will typically serve time in state prisons. Collateral consequences of a felony conviction number in the hundreds. If convicted of a felony, you could lose a multitude of civil rights, including firearms rights, and you could also struggle to find employment and housing, as well as maintain custody rights.

Elements of Criminal Offenses in Ohio

As in most other U.S. jurisdictions, two elements are essential to a finding of guilt for a criminal offense:

  • The guilty mind, or in Latin, the mens rea
  • An act in furtherance of the offense, or the actus reus

To be charged with many types of criminal offenses, the alleged offender must commit the act in question with one of the following mental states:

  • Recklessly
  • Intentionally
  • With purpose or knowledge
  • With criminal negligence

If an Element of the Crime Is Missing, You Cannot Be Convicted

If the alleged offender lacks the required mental state, or guilty mind, they cannot be found guilty of the crime unless their mental state was coupled with an act in furtherance of the crime. For example, the act of murder involves purposeful conduct. If the killing of another is accidental, the defendant is not guilty of homicide since they did not have the requisite state of mind. However, the defendant could instead be guilty of criminally negligent homicide.

Similarly, the crime of larceny, theft, or stealing only constitutes a crime if a person thinks about the act and then takes steps or attempts to take or steal an item. If the thought to commit an act is not combined with the act in furtherance of the offense, the alleged offender cannot be found guilty by the judge or jury.

Regulatory Offenses in Columbus

The Ohio Revised Code also enumerates other offenses, such as traffic and liquor control violations, in addition to other miscellaneous crimes.

Regulatory guidelines exist in Ohio for the following activities:

  • Vehicle licensing and registration
  • Agricultural products and raw materials
  • Weights and measures
  • Hunting, fishing, boating, professional licensing, public health, and elections

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Columbus Municipal Ordinance Violations

Municipal ordinances in Columbus address minor misdemeanor violations. They also resolve local matters, such as the following:

  • Building repairs
  • Property care
  • Noisy neighbors
  • Curfews
  • Pets

The City of Columbus is responsible for creating and enforcing municipal ordinances. Under the Constitution of the State of Ohio, municipalities cannot create or prosecute felony offenses.


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Resources for Columbus Misdemeanors and Felonies

The City of Columbus Prosecution Resources Unit

Victims of misdemeanor offenses work with the City of Columbus Intake Section to file a complaint. They must appear at the City Attorney’s Office, Prosecutor Division, located at 375 South High Street, 7th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215. The Intake Section hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are closed on weekends. You can also speak with the director by calling (614) 645-8874 or via email at mailto:brhedrick@columbus.gov. This site contains a link to a downloadable complaint form.

Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office

Visit this website to find a case that has been filed with the Franklin County Clerk of the Municipal Clerk. The site also features information about the county’s Victim Witness Assistance Unit, which aims to help victims and witnesses navigate the criminal justice system.

If you have been accused of a crime, it might prove useful to read about rights of any alleged victims. For example, the Victim Notification staff will update alleged victims with news on your indictment, trial dates, sentencing dates, hearings, and more.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction (ORDC)

Anything having to do with the state’s corrections system is on this website. If you are convicted of a felony requiring a sentence of at least six months to come through Ohio’s prison system, which is supervised by the ODRC. This also includes convicted felons who serve through probation and other forms of corrections. Visit this site to learn about ODRC policies, including rules for visitation. You can also search for offenders and find information about the various institutions that make up Ohio’s prison correctional system.

State of Ohio’s Safe at Home Program

Substitute House Bill 359 created the Safe at Home address confidentiality program for survivors of crime in Ohio. The program gives victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, rape, and other such offenses, a substitute address that conceals their personal information from the public while still enabling them to vote.

Franklin County Clerk of Courts’ Case Information Online (CIO)

The Franklin County Clerk of Courts provides this website as a resource for Franklin County residents who want to find information about criminal and civil cases that have been filed in the Court of Common Pleas and other courts. The CIO tool lets you search public records by name, court, case, case type, and other criteria. Results include all this information, as well as charges, disposition, judge and courtroom info, and bond and docket details.


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News About Misdemeanors and Felonies in Columbus

June 28, 2021
“Anti-Hazing ‘Collin’s Law’ Passes Ohio House”
The Ohio Capital Journal reports that the Ohio House unanimously approved Senate Bill 126. The legislation would deepen penalties for hazing and establish procedures for preventing such actions, especially in the state’s universities and colleges. The bill has been nicknamed Collin’s Law, in observation of an Ohio University student who died from asphyxiation after ingesting nitrous oxide.

June 25, 2021
“Ohio House Passes Bill Expanding Definition of Obstructing Justice”

The Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 22, according to FOX 28 coverage. The bill widens the state’s definition of obstructing justice. Under the provisions of this bill, a person who fails to obey a lawful order from police or diverts an officer’s attention would be guilty of obstructing justice, a second-degree misdemeanor. If the offender’s actions create risk of physical harm, the charge could be upgraded to a felony of the fifth degree. The language of the bill was amended to specify that it would still be lawful to record a law enforcement (audio or video) as they perform their duties.

January 13, 2021
“Columbus Police Top Brass Expressed Disagreement with Revised Misdemeanors Directive”

ABC 6 reports that top officials with Columbus Police Department are unhappy with a new directive for non-violent misdemeanors. According to the new directive, law enforcement officers shall not make arrests for non-violent misdemeanors when they can identify the offender, and they are “reasonably assured” to appear in court. Supervisory approval is required before an arrest is made for non-violent misdemeanor offenses, and the supervisor has a number of criteria to consider before approving an arrest.

November 17, 2020
“Bill in Ohio House Would Impose Harsh New Penalties on Protesters”

Ohio House Republications filed House Bill 784, legislation that aims to enforce harsher penalties for some protest activities. Sponsors defend the bill against accusations that it violates people’s right to protest. Rather, the legislators suggest that the bill serves to protect the public while at the same time protecting the right to free speech and freedom of assembly.

The bill proposes elevating the charge for blocking of traffic during an unpermitted protest from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. Riots would be charged as a fourth-degree felony, and damaging government property or gravestones during a protest would be charged as a second-degree felony. The bill also names the new crime of “riot assault,” in which one party recklessly hurts another during a protest. This offense will be charged as a fifth-degree felony. The “stand your ground” provision also makes it lawful to use deadly force if you feel you are in imminent physical danger.

October 7, 2021
“Columbus Dismisses Thousands of Cases ‘In The Interest of Community Justice’”

This 10 WBNS CBS report tells of the Columbus City Attorney’s Office dismissal of more than 4,000 cases March and September of 2020. Officials explained that COVID-19 served as the impetus for the dismissals. With courthouse closures, cases became backlogged, and so the city established a system for considering which misdemeanor charges it would drop.


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FAQs About Misdemeanors and Felonies in Columbus

Q. Can You Go to Jail for a Misdemeanor in Ohio?

Yes, you can go to jail for a misdemeanor in Ohio. The maximum sentence depends on the charge, but the range for possible jail time for a misdemeanor is anywhere from 30 days for a fourth-degree misdemeanor to six months for a first-degree misdemeanor. No jail time is associated with minor misdemeanors, which include most traffic violations.

Q. What Is the Punishment for a Misdemeanor 1 in Ohio?

The Ohio Revised Code establishes that a first-degree misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Q. Do Minor Misdemeanors Go Away in Ohio?

Yes, you can apply to have your minor misdemeanor conviction record sealed in Ohio. Through this court-approved process, the details of your arrest, charge, and conviction are for your eyes only and do not have to be disclosed in job or housing applications. To seal your record, you must apply to the County or Municipal Court where you were charged and pay a $50 fee. If your misdemeanor involved a violent crime or domestic violence, your record cannot be expunged.

Q. How Many Years Do Background Checks Go Back in Ohio?

In Ohio, background checks of criminal and court records typically stretch back seven years. In some instances, these checks stretch even farther back, though.

Q. Can a Felon Run for Office in Ohio?

No, according to the Ohio Revised Code, Ohioans who have been convicted of a felony face the collateral consequence of not being allowed to gather signatures for petitions, application, or declarations related to public candidacy or voting. This is just one of many collateral consequences for a felony conviction. Others include losing the right to serve as a jury member. A felony could also interfere with your right to purchase firearms.


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Misdemeanors and Felonies Lawyer in Columbus, OH

Contact the Joslyn Law Firm today for a consultation about your alleged criminal offense in Columbus, Ohio. It is important to hire a Columbus criminal defense attorney to help you avoid the most serious penalties and repercussions in your particular case.

Call (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your criminal charges in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County, and Fairfield County in Ohio.


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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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