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Misdemeanors and Felonies

Criminal law in Ohio defines the guidelines of conduct and the penalties for acts and/or omissions outside the scope of behavior acceptable to society. The criminal justice system also serves to protect individuals who are victims of overzealous law enforcement practices and mistaken or false allegations. The criminal justice system is based on the premise that every individual is entitled to due process and equal protection of the laws.

There are varying degrees of offenses in Ohio with a range of punishments. Penalties are enforced via statute or state ordinance and apply to all offenses, ranging from minor social infractions to premeditated murder.

In Ohio, there are two types of criminal acts: felonies and misdemeanors. The term felony is derived from the Latin word, “felonia,” which means treason or treachery. Misdemeanor comes from the Latin, “mis,” which means wrong or bad and the Middle English, “demenure,” which means to self-govern or behave. Both misdemeanors and felonies are comprised of different degrees, with the first degree generally constituting the most serious offense. However, some crimes are not classified by degrees, but are simply considered either felonies or misdemeanors.

Columbus Misdemeanor and Felony Defense Lawyer

It is important to hire a knowledgeable attorney 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.

Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm is knowledgeable in all areas of Columbus criminal law will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome to your alleged offense. Call the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation today.


Ohio's Laws on Misdemeanors and Felonies


Common Misdemeanor Offenses

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.


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Felony Crimes in Columbus

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.

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.

Felony offenders can be sentenced to local jails or community facilities, but violent felons will typically serve time in state prisons.

Title 29 of the Ohio Criminal Code 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); and
  • Drug offenses, including possession, sale, manufacture and cultivation.

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Elements of Criminal Offenses in Ohio

As in most other jurisdictions throughout the nation, two elements are essential to a finding of guilt for a criminal offense:

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

In order 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, or
  • With criminal negligence.

If the alleged offender has 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 individual is not guilty of homicide, but may instead be guilty of criminally negligent homicide since they did not have the requisite state of mind. 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.


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Regulatory Guidelines 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 are created in Ohio for the following activities:

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

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Columbus Municipal Ordinances

Municipal ordinances in Columbus address mirror misdemeanor violations, but also cover local matters, such as the following:

  • Building repairs,
  • Property care,
  • Noisy neighbors,
  • Curfews, and
  • Pets.

Municipal ordinances are created and enforced by the city. Under the Ohio Constitution, municipalities cannot create or prosecute felony offenses.


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Joslyn Law Firm | Columbus Felony Defense Attorney

Contact the Joslyn Law Firm today for a consultation about your alleged criminal offense in Columbus, Ohio. It is important to hire an experienced 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.