Many people in Fairfield County find themselves facing criminal charges or traffic violations. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system in the United States does not favor defendants, and too many people end up with unnecessarily harsh outcomes of criminal cases. Even if a case seems minor, you can expect the prosecutor to aggressively seek a conviction and serious penalties. This means it is critical for you to have aggressive defense representation to protect your rights.
The Joslyn Law Firm defends against allegations in the Fairfield County Juvenile Court, Fairfield County Municipal Court, and the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas. We represent clients in the following cities, among others:
We can help in many situations, including if you believe you have a warrant, you were arrested and accused of a crime, you were cited for traffic or ordinance violations, or if your child or another loved one faces allegations. We are highly familiar with the inner-workings and personnel at each of the Fairfield courts, which allows us to provide the highest quality of representation for our clients.
Fairfield County Criminal Defense Attorneys
The Joslyn Law Firm represents adults and juveniles in Central Ohio who face all types of criminal charges. Led by award-winning lawyer Brian Joslyn, our firm focuses on criminal defense matters, and we give every case the attention it needs, whether it is a relatively minor misdemeanor or a violent felony. We have obtained notable victories in a wide range of criminal cases, and you can trust we will do everything possible to defend your specific case.
If you or your child has been arrested in Fairfield County, your first call should be Joslyn Law Firm at 614-444-1900. We are ready to evaluate your case and begin protecting your rights and interests in Fairfield County. We will help you understand your charges and possible outcomes, as well as identify the strongest possible defense strategy. Contact our Fairfield County criminal defense lawyers right away.
Fairfield County Criminal Courts Information Center
The following is some general information about Fairfield County and its criminal court system. To discuss your specific case, please contact our office directly.
- Fairfield County Overview and General information
- Common Criminal Charges in Fairfield County
- Penalties for Criminal Convictions in Fairfield County
- Warrants in Fairfield County
- Hiring a Fairfield County Criminal Defense Attorney
- Fairfield County Criminal Defense Q&A
- Fairfield County Law Enforcement and Other Agencies
- Fairfield County Resources
- Fairfield County News
- Fairfield County Court Location and Contact Information
Fairfield County is made up of several municipalities and is home to about 157,500 Ohioans who enjoy the amenities the area has to offer. The County government is composed of many agencies and departments aimed to keep the communities safe, including law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and courts, many of which operate from the county seat of Lancaster.
Even though Fairfield County is considered to be a safe and family-oriented area, crimes do happen, and many people are arrested and charged with various offenses, ranging from minor to serious. The following were reported in Lancaster in a recent year:
● 44 rapes
● 21 robberies
● 51 assaults
● 262 burglaries
● 1369 thefts
● 56 auto thefts
● 10 arson acts
While no murders were reported in this particular year, there have been six murders reported in Lancaster since 2008, not including vehicular homicides or manslaughter.
Crime does happen in Fairfield County, and when it does, criminal cases can be heard by different courts, depending on the circumstances. For example, minors accused of crimes (who are not charged as adults) will have their cases overseen by the Fairfield County Juvenile Court. Other cases involving traffic violations, ordinance violations, or misdemeanor criminal offenses are held in Fairfield County Municipal Court. Cases involving felony offenses are scheduled in the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas.
No matter which court is overseeing your or your child’s case, it is imperative that you have the right defense attorney who regularly represents clients in that particular Fairfield County court. You want the lawyers from Joslyn Law Firm on your side.
Ohio state law sets out many different criminal offenses, as well as traffic regulations that can lead to cases in court. Fairfield County and individual cities also have regulations of their own, and violations can lead to a municipal court case.
Juveniles can be charged with any crime, just like adults can, and some juveniles who face serious criminal charges might have their cases transferred to adult court. However, there are some offenses that are common for juveniles, and that might only apply to juvenile cases, such as:
● Habitual truancy
● Driving without a driver’s license
● Possessing or using a fake ID
● Underage drinking
● Underage alcohol possession
● Underage operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI)
● Drug possession, distribution, selling, or cultivation
● Disorderly conduct
● Domestic assault
● Gross sexual imposition
● Rape and sexual assault
● Probation violations
Whether your child faces allegations of truancy or a violent felony, their future depends on the defense representation they have.
Municipal courts hear cases in which defendants face charges of ordinance violations, traffic violations and offenses, as well as misdemeanor offenses. Felony offenses and some misdemeanor cases will be scheduled in the Court of Common Pleas. The following are different types of cases that our legal team handles in the Fairfield County Municipal Court and Court of Common Pleas.
Cases involving municipal ordinance violations take place in Municipal Court, including:
● Making false alarms or reports
● Failure to report a crime, injury, or knowledge of a death
● Failure to aid a law enforcement officer
● Disturbing a lawful meeting
● Obstructing official business or obstructing justice
● Noxious and offensive odors
● Noise ordinance violations
● Weeds and landscaping nuisances
● Hunting animals within city limits
● Failure to control an animal
● Abandoning an animal
● Operating charity raffles or bingo games in violation of existing regulations
● Gambling, public gaming, cheating, and other gaming violations
● Discharging weapons within city limits
These violations can result in costly penalties, which can increase if you have been found guilty of such violations in the past. While an ordinance violation might not seem like a serious matter, you should never accept unnecessary penalties for any type of accusation in Municipal Court. Always present your best defense.
Traffic offenses are some of the most common cases in Fairfield County Municipal Court. Drivers are expected to abide by many different traffic laws, so they can also face a wide variety of violations. Some traffic citations are infractions, meaning the court can only impose fines. However, others constitute criminal offenses, and probation, jail time, or license suspension by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) might be possible penalties. Some common traffic violations include:
● Following too closely
● Failure to yield the right of way
● Failure to yield to pedestrians
● Obstructing an intersection
● Failure to stop at a stop sign or red light
● Crossing a divided highway
● Crossing a yellow line
● Illegal turns
● One-way traffic violations
● Improper passing
● Passing a stopped school bus
● Registration, tag, sticker and title violations
● Equipment violations (headlights, taillights, license plate lights, etc.)
● Driving with an obstructed view
● Driving with headphones
● Drag racing
Some traffic offenses that can be charged as misdemeanor crimes that we defend against in Municipal Court include:
Operating a vehicle under the influence/Driving under the influence (OVI/DUI) is a highly common misdemeanor traffic offense in Fairfield County Municipal Court, and an OVI conviction can have serious consequences. A conviction can mean fines, license suspension, probation, and possible jail time, among other penalties. If there are aggravating factors in your OVI case, it might become a felony and be heard in the Court of Common Pleas instead of Municipal Court. Our legal team can help with our case in either situation.
There are many different criminal offenses that can be charged as misdemeanors, which include minor misdemeanors, fourth-degree misdemeanors, third-degree misdemeanors, second-degree misdemeanors, or first-degree misdemeanors, with first-degree cases being the most serious. Even a so-called “minor” misdemeanor can be costly and result in a criminal record. These cases are generally handled in Municipal Court.
Assault and Battery – This charge applies when you are accused of threatening or causing harmful or offensive contact with another person.
Domestic violence – Domestic violence charges arise due to accusations that you committed assault and battery (or a similar offense) against someone who is a member of your family or household, or a current or former romantic partner.
Petty theft – When items that were allegedly stolen are worth less than $1,000, it is a misdemeanor offense referred to as “petty theft.” However, there is nothing petty about these charges as you can still face probation, costly fines, and time in jail.
Marijuana Crimes – While marijuana is legalized in several states, you can still face minor misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana, and the charges can increase depending on prior convictions and the amount of marijuana possessed.
Possession of a Controlled Substance – Marijuana is not the only type of drug case heard by Municipal Courts in Ohio, as possession of other prescription medications or narcotics can also result in misdemeanor possession charges.
Possessing Drug Paraphernalia or Drug Abuse Instruments – Not only is possessing drugs themselves unlawful, but so is possessing instruments or items that help you use drugs. Drug paraphernalia can result in a separate misdemeanor charge.
Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor – While most sex offenses are charged as felonies, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor (also called statutory rape) can be a misdemeanor charge.
Criminal Trespass – This charge arises when someone is accused of entering property or remaining on property without permission. This might be a lesser charge to burglary if the prosecutor cannot prove you intended to commit a crime on the property.
Resisting Arrest – If you try to avoid an arrest or interfere with the arrest of another person by a law enforcement officer, you can face charges of resisting arrest.
Disorderly Conduct – This is a misdemeanor charge that encompasses many types of behaviors, including conduct that causes inconvenience, offense, or alarm to members of the public.
Criminal Mischief – Another charge that can apply to different types of conduct is criminal mischief. This charge can be filed for alleged acts such as using smoke bombs or tear gas and hacking, among others.
If a prosecutor wants to file felony charges, they must first go through a grand jury or preliminary hearing. After obtaining a felony indictment, the felony case can move forward in the Court of Common Pleas. The following are only some of the many examples of felony cases we take on in Fairfield County.
Drug charges – Many drug charges, including possession, possession with the intent to distribute, trafficking, and manufacture, can result in felony charges.
Weapons and gun charges – While Ohio has important gun rights, the law also sets out many restrictions when it comes to possessing or using weapons and firearms. If you possess a weapon when you are banned or use a weapon during a crime, you can face serious felony charges.
Theft and fraud offenses – When you are accused of stealing money or property worth more than $1,000, you can face felony theft charges, which is sometimes referred to as grand theft. Theft crimes can also involve the use of fraud to obtain money or property that is not yours. Robbery is one of the most serious theft crimes, as it also involves violence or threats against another person to take their property.
Financial crimes – Often referred to as white collar crimes, financial crimes can involve defrauding individuals, corporations, or agencies to obtain money. Financial offenses can also include embezzlement, forgery, bribery, and more.
Property crimes – Some crimes target property, not people, though they can also result in felony charges. These include arson, burglary, and vandalism/destruction of property. Robbery
Sex crimes – Even being accused of a sex offense can cause harm to your reputation and future, and a conviction for such an offense can significantly impact your future, including where you can work and live. Such charges might include prostitution, child pornography, and sexual assault (rape).
There are numerous other felony offenses that we defend against in the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas. No matter how serious your case might be, we are ready to fight for your rights and seek the best possible outcome for you.
When you are convicted of a crime – either by a jury or due to a guilty plea – the Municipal Court or Common Pleas Court judge will set your sentence. There are many factors that go into sentencing, and it is important to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer advocating for the least serious sentence possible to the judge.
The law sets out maximum penalties for each degree of charge, though the judge has the discretion to order a lesser sentence in most cases. The following are some examples of maximum penalties you could face for a misdemeanor conviction in Municipal Court:
● First-Degree Misdemeanor –$1000 fine and up to six months of imprisonment
● Second-Degree Misdemeanor – $750 fine and up to 90 days of imprisonment
● Third-Degree Misdemeanor – $500 fine and up to 60 days of imprisonment
● Fourth-Degree Misdemeanor – $250 fine and up to 30 days of imprisonment
● Minor Misdemeanor – $150 fine and no possible imprisonment
Below are the maximum penalties you can receive for felony criminal charges in the Court of Common Pleas:
● First-Degree Felony – Fines up to $20,000 and three to 11 years of imprisonment (with possible enhancements up to ten years for repeat violent offenders)
● Second-Degree Felony – Fines up to $15,000 and two to eight years of imprisonment (with possible enhancements up to ten years for repeat violent offenders)
● Third-Degree Felony – Fines up to $10,000 and nine to 60 months of imprisonment (with possible enhancements up to ten years for repeat violent offenders)
● Fourth-Degree Felony – Fines up to $5,000 and nine to 18 months of imprisonment
● Fifth-Degree Felony – Fines up to $2,500 and six to 12 months of imprisonment
If a child’s case is heard in Juvenile Court, they can have fines and detention imposed just like adult defendants, though the penalties might be slightly less severe. There are also different types of consequences they might face, such as:
● Committing the child to the custody of the court or a facility that provides care for delinquent children
● Detention in a juvenile facility
● House arrest
● Community control, which is similar to adult probation
● Community service
● Drug and alcohol monitoring, counseling, or treatment
● Imposing curfews
● Suspending the juvenile’s driver’s license or extending the waiting period to obtain a license
● Order and monitor school attendance
If a juvenile is charged as an adult, they face the same possible consequences as adult defendants, as mentioned above.
Diversion Programs in Fairfield County Courts
In many types of criminal cases, there might be another option for resolving the matter that protects your criminal record. Diversion programs are implemented to give qualified offenders the chance to succeed on probation and participate in a substance abuse rehabilitation program. If a defendant successfully completes a diversion program, the judge can dismiss the case without a conviction being indeed on the defendant’s criminal record. This can eliminate many lasting consequences of having a record, as you will be able to honestly state you were not convicted of a crime on applications and other documents.
Diversion programs in Fairfield County include the Fairfield Treatment Alternative Court (TAC) for people who need mental health treatment, and the Drug Recovery Court for those struggling with substance abuse. Not everyone qualifies for diversion programs, and requirements generally include:
● First-time offenders
● Charges of non-violent offenses
● The defendant is willing to admit guilt for the offense (though does not formally plead guilty)
Your criminal defense attorney can evaluate whether a diversion program is an option in your case, and can advocate to the prosecutor and judge on your behalf for acceptance into a program.
Juveniles ages nine to 17 facing criminal trouble in Fairfield County also have the opportunity to qualify for the Juvenile Diversion Program. Juveniles must be first-time offenders accused of non-violent offenses, as well as be a student of the Fairfield School District. Juveniles and their parents have to sign a Juvenile Diversion Program contract agreeing that everyone will actively take part in the program, which can include family or individual counseling, drug treatment, and more.
Warrants for your arrest can arise in different ways. For example, police officers might show probable cause that you committed a crime, and a judge might sign off on an arrest warrant. This means that officers can arrest you on the spot – whether they seek you out at home or work, or they wait for a chance encounter like a traffic stop.
A judge can also issue a bench warrant if you fail to appear at a scheduled court date or pay your court-ordered fines. A bench warrant also allows law enforcement officers to arrest you at any time.
If you think you might have a warrant, you do not simply have to wait until you are arrested – possibly in front of your family, neighbors, or co-workers – and then need someone to bail you out. Instead, contact a Fairfield County criminal defense attorney who can explore your options. They might be able to have a warrant recalled or arrange for you to turn yourself in to avoid public embarrassment and damage to your reputation.
People facing allegations in any type of criminal court wonder whether they should hire an attorney. On the one hand, you might know that having a defense lawyer is a good idea. However, you might be concerned about the cost and be tempted to handle your case on your own. How hard can it be?
The truth is that hiring the right criminal defense lawyer can often save you money in the long run, among many other things. Even if you know you are guilty, an attorney can often obtain a plea agreement for a more favorable outcome that the prosecutor would not offer to an unrepresented defendant.
Whether you are in Juvenile Court, Municipal Court, or Common Pleas Court, the criminal justice system can be challenging for defendants. There are complex legal issues and defenses that a defendant might not realize exist, and they could end up with a wrongful conviction or overly harsh penalties. Only some ways that a skilled Fairfield County criminal defense lawyer can help include:
● Investigating the circumstances of your arrest and the alleged offense to obtain exculpatory evidence
● Reviewing the prosecutor’s evidence to see if it is insufficient to prove your charges
● Identifying whether authorities violated your constitutional rights and if so, use a violation to suppress evidence
● Working to get the judge to dismiss your case
● Working to get the prosecutor to drop your charges
● Advising you of the possible benefits and drawbacks of pleading guilty
● Obtaining a plea bargain with reduced charges or a lesser sentence
● Representing you if your case goes to a jury trial
● Advocating for the most lenient sentence possible upon a conviction
All of these can help you in the long run, so it is always worth it to contact our criminal defense law firm to discuss your current case.
The Municipal Court system in Ohio is intended to handle less severe criminal matters, which include misdemeanor crimes, traffic offenses, and local ordinance violations.
If you are facing a felony charge in Fairfield County, your case will be escalated to the Court of Common Pleas. Prior to moving to this court, your charges will need to be upheld by a grand jury or at a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court.
The Juvenile Court in Fairfield County handles cases involving minors who are accused of a variety of offenses or misconduct. While juveniles have many of the same rights as adult defendants, the procedures for Juvenile Court can vary from regular criminal court. Often, judges are focused on rehabilitating minors rather than punishing them with detention whenever possible. Juveniles still have the right to have defense representation, and it is important that they do.
As mentioned, Juvenile Courts aim for rehabilitation over detention in most cases. However, some juveniles can be sentenced to time in a detention center or a Department of Youth Services facility, which is the version of jail for minors. Additionally, if your child is charged as an adult, they can face time in adult jail or prison. It is imperative for your child to have the right defense attorney who will fight against jail time.
After an arrest in Fairfield County, it is likely that your friend or family member is being held in the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office Jail. You can always seek help from a criminal defense attorney in locating someone who has been arrested.
Often, a loved one might be arrested, and you will have no idea why. If a prosecutor has issued charges in the case, you can find out more information about the allegations online. If not, it can be more challenging to learn about why they are being detained. In this situation, your best bet is to call a Fairfield County criminal defense attorney.
In many cases, there will be bond set in order for a defendant to be released from jail while their case is pending. It can be tempting to pay the amount right away to get them out of jail as soon as possible, though it is generally wise to speak with a criminal defense lawyer first. Too often, the initial bond set will be too high, and an attorney can argue for a lower amount – or none at all – at a bail hearing. When it comes time to post bond, you might need to do so at the Fairfield County jail or at the court during a hearing.
If you would like to locate case information about a pending matter in Municipal Court, you can conduct a records search. If your case is in the Common Pleas Court, you can also search online for information. You can also contact the Clerk of Courts for either court.
If you have an arrest warrant or bench warrant in Fairfield County, you could be arrested at any time. Instead of risking an arrest at your home or place of work, contact our defense attorneys who can advise you of your options.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can get your warrant cleared without you having to be arrested or booked into jail. In other situations, you might need to turn yourself in, but your attorney can help make this process as painless as possible.
Prosecutors will often approach unrepresented defendants to try to convince them to plead guilty. In addition, many defendants might think that pleading guilty is their only option, especially if they know they committed the crime. The reality is that pleading guilty without first consulting with a defense attorney will almost certainly result in overly harsh penalties. You might also experience long-term consequences of your guilty plea that you did not expect. Instead, contact an attorney who can review all of the implications of a guilty plea with you, as well as negotiate with the prosecutor for a plea bargain. This generally means lesser penalties if you decide to enter a guilty plea.
The answer to this question is almost always “yes.” The criminal justice system does not favor defendants and their rights, and this is no different in Fairfield County. It is beneficial to your case and your future to have an experienced Fairfield County criminal defense attorney handling your case and presenting the most effective defense possible.
Generally speaking, a criminal case is initiated when police make an arrest or issue a citation to suspected offenders. The following are the law enforcement agencies with which you might have contact within Fairfield County lines.
Dave Phelan, Sheriff
Alex Lape, Chief Deputy
Main Office: 740-652-7900
Detective Bureau: 740-652-7331
Civil Division: 740-652-7320
Stephen B. Maynard, Chief
Direct Line: 513-829-8201
Adam Pillar, Chief
Detective Bureau (Major Crimes Unit Liaison, Property Room, Fingerprints, and Annual Police Auction)
130 S Broad Street
Lancaster, Ohio 43130
Non Emergency: 740-687-6680
Fairfield County provides many resources for individuals accused of crimes, as well as their families. It is important to get the support you need from legal resources, though it can be equally critical to seek help from community, mental health, and family resources that help address the underlying issues that might lead to criminal charges.
The following are some examples of the many community resources that are available to residents of Fairfield County:
Fairfield County Clerk of Court – This page will give you additional information about the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas.
Fairfield County Prosecutor’s Office – This is the office responsible for issuing and pursuing criminal charges against individuals in Fairfield County. There is also a prosecutor for the juvenile division.
About Fairfield County – Learn about Fairfield County’s history, demographics, and more.
Map of Fairfield County – Explore the area of Fairfield County and its cities.
Crime Data for Fairfield County – Learn about which criminal offenses are the most commonly reported in Fairfield County.
Fairfield County Law Library – Access legal information that can help with education and research about the law in Ohio.
Fairfield County Auditor – This is the fiscal officer and tax assessor for Fairfield County.
Fairfield County Child support Enforcement – This agency makes it easier to pay and receive child support, as well as takes enforcement measures for unpaid support.
Fairfield County Job and Family Services – This is an important resource for child care, health care, employment, and other needs of families in Fairfield County.
Lancaster Fairfield Chamber of Commerce – The Chamber provides services and programs aimed at supporting healthy and thriving businesses in Fairfield County.
Fairfield Behavioral Health Services – This is the primary county authority for substance abuse services and treatment.
New Horizons / Lancaster Office – This non-profit teams up with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services to provide supplementary treatment and counseling.
The Recovery Center – Provides mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment to promote healthy lives and healing.
Mid-Ohio Psychological Services – Provides behavioral health and substance abuse services for individuals of all ages, as well as families.
The Center for Family Safety and Healing – Provides counseling to children and families in an effort to promote healthy family relationships in Fairfield County.
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) – This organization provides support and assistance from sexual abuse and assault victims of all ages.
Fairfield County News
It is important for everyone in Fairfield County to stay aware of news regarding a variety of criminal law issues and related matters. The following is a sampling of recent news out of the County.
● People came out in protest against police brutality and criminal justice inequality in downtown Lancaster. This protest was part of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in response to incidents of police violence targeting black individuals throughout the U.S. While Lancaster police were present, no arrests were reported.
● Fairfield County’s concerns over COVID-19 increased when the County was moved to Alert Level Three, according to the state’s pandemic Public Health Advisory Alert System. This was due to many factors and increased exposure and spread throughout the County.
● Domestic violence reports often escalate to even more serious criminal allegations. Recently, the Fairfield Sheriff’s office reported to a home on a domestic disturbance call, and the situation ended with an arrest and charges against a son for the alleged aggravated murder of his father.
● A 40-year-old man has been accused of heading a major methamphetamine operation in Fairfield County, which led to 79 felony charges in the Court of Common Pleas. He claims he has been falsely accused and maintains that police found insufficient evidence of the accused offenses. The arrest was one of 15 made following a year-long investigation by the Major Crimes Unit.
If you or your child has a hearing in Fairfield County court, it is important to know where to go and who you might contact at the court for case information and questions. The following is location and contact information for relevant courts in juvenile and criminal cases.
This court is located in downtown Lancaster at:
224 E Main St #308
Lancaster, OH 4313
The Municipal Court is located off U.S. Highway 158 and Main Street in downtown Lancaster at:
136 W Main St
Lancaster, OH 43130
You can contact the court by calling (513) 867-6002 or gain more information by visiting the court’s website here. Some key Fairfield County Municipal Court personnel include:
● The Probation Department
The Common Pleas Court for Fairfield County is located in the county complex at the southeast corner of Main Street and High Street in downtown Lancaster. The address is:
224 E. Main Street
Lancaster, Ohio, 43130
You can call the main court line at 740-652-7421 or find more specific contact information on the court’s website. Some key court personnel include:
● Court administrator and Magistrate Jillian Boone
● Court Services Coordinator Kelly Starkey
● Community Control Department for adult probation matters
Of course, our lawyers will know who to contact for specific information needed in your case at any of the three Fairfield County criminal courts.
The criminal justice system is stacked against defendants, so it is important for anyone facing any type of allegations to have the right defense representation. At the Joslyn Law Firm, our goal is to limit the consequences that each client faces, both now and in the long-term. If you have been accused of a violation or a crime in any court in Fairfield County, you should not wait to call (614) 444-1900 or contact us online to speak with a member of our dedicated criminal defense team.