Franklin County Criminal Defense Attorneys
Skillfully Representing Clients in Franklin County’s Juvenile Court, Municipal Court, and Court of Common Pleas
Whether you find yourself facing a traffic violation, an ordinance violation, a misdemeanor, or a criminal charge in Franklin County, it’s important to understand that you are not alone. Even relatively minor charges can lead to harsh fines and penalties, as well as adverse social consequences. Prosecutors are motivated to convict and are not inclined to give defendants the benefit of the doubt or go easy on them when it comes to sentencing. In other words, the stakes are simply too high not to work closely with a dedicated Franklin County criminal defense attorney.
At Joslyn Law Firm, we put our clients first and are committed to skillfully defending their rights in the Franklin County Municipal Court, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, and the Franklin County Juvenile Court. In addition to Columbus, we represent clients in all of the following cities in Franklin County:
● Grandview Heights
● Grove City
● Marble Cliff
● Minerva Park
● New Albany
● Upper Arlington
Whether you believe there is a warrant out there with your name on it, you are facing criminal charges, you’ve been issued a traffic citation or ordinance violation, or your child (or someone else who is close to you) is facing any of these charges, our resourceful legal team has years of experience in the Franklin County court system. The team is very familiar with how the courts are run and having close working relationships with the people on staff, which further provides you with high-quality legal representation.
To help you better understand Franklin County’s criminal court system, we offer all of the following general information:
- Franklin County Overview and General Information
- Common Criminal Charges in Franklin County
- Penalties for Criminal Convictions in Franklin County
- Warrants in Franklin County
- Hiring a Franklin County Criminal Defense Attorney
- Franklin County Criminal Defense Q&As
- Franklin County Law Enforcement and Other Agencies
- Franklin County Resources
- Franklin County News
- Franklin County Court Locations and Contact Information
To learn more about your case specifically, please contact our office and receive the personal attention you need and deserve.
1) Franklin County Overview and General Information
Franklin County is named for the famed American statesman, inventor, and scientist, Benjamin Franklin. The county was established in 1803, and its estimated current population is 1,251,722. Franklin County houses the thriving city of Columbus, the state’s capital. Columbus boasts many beautiful neighborhoods, 19 inviting parks, more than 200 miles of trails, an acclaimed food scene, and the beloved Columbus Zoo.
As inviting as Franklin County and Columbus are, crime can be a problem, and crime rate statistics from 2018 back this up. Consider the following:
● Columbus’s crime rate is 1.4 times higher than the national average and is higher than the rate in a bit more than 90 percent of other U.S. towns and cities.
● In 2018, the city’s crime rate was 10 percent lower than it was in 2017.
● The homicide rate (per 100,000) in 2018 was 99, which is down from 142 in 2017.
● In 2018, the rate (per 100,000) of rapes was 820, of robberies was 1,922, of burglaries was 6,271, of thefts was 21,323, of car thefts was 3,918, and of assaults was 1,575. All of these numbers (except for assaults) are above the national average.
● Overall, Columbus has experienced a decrease in both violent crimes and property crimes since 2014.
Crime occurs regularly in Franklin County, and when criminal charges are brought, they’re heard in one of three courts, including:
● When juveniles are charged as juveniles (and not as adults), their cases are tried in the Franklin County Juvenile Court.
● When defendants face charges of traffic violations, ordinance violations, or misdemeanor criminal offenses, their cases are tried in the Franklin County Municipal Court.
● When defendants (including those juveniles who are charged as adults) face felony charges, their cases are tried in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
Regardless of which court you or your child’s case will be heard in, you need skilled legal counsel with extensive experience successfully representing clients in that Franklin County courtroom with that judge.
Ohio has comprehensive laws on the books related to traffic offenses, ordinance violations, and felonies. They can all lead to serious charges that beget serious fines and penalties upon conviction. Franklin County, as well as cities within Franklin County, have their own rules, regulations, and ordinances.
Juveniles can face all of the charges that adults in Franklin County can, but they tend to face specific kinds of charges that are generally heard in juvenile court, including:
● Underage alcohol consumption
● Underage alcohol possession
● Habitual truancy
● Disorderly conduct
● Possession of or use of a fake ID
● The operation of a vehicle without a driver’s license
● Underage operation of a vehicle while impaired (OVI)
● Drug possession, distribution, sale, or cultivation
● Domestic Assault
● Gross sexual imposition
● Rape and sexual assault
● Probation violations
When juveniles are charged with especially serious crimes, they can be charged as adults, and their cases are then transferred to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Regardless of the charges your child is facing, however, working closely with an experienced and compassionate Franklin County criminal defense attorney is imperative. The consequences of a conviction can reverberate throughout your child’s future so dramatically that the matter is simply too serious to proceed without formidable legal representation.
When the charge you face is an ordinance or traffic violation or almost any misdemeanor, your case will be heard in the Franklin County Municipal Court. Specific examples of such charges include:
● Following too closely
● Drag racing
● Failing to yield the right-of-way
● Failing to yield to pedestrians
● Failing to stop at a stop sign or red light
● Violating a one-way traffic directive
● Making illegal turns
● Passing improperly
● Obstructing an intersection
● Crossing a divided highway
● Crossing a yellow line
● Passing a stopped school bus
● Violating a registration, tag, sticker, or title ordinance
● Violating an equipment ordinance (headlights, taillights, license plate lights, etc.)
● Driving with an obstructed view
● Driving with headphones
More serious traffic offenses can rise to misdemeanor status. These are also heard at the Franklin County Municipal Court and can include:
The charges of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) and driving under the influence are common in Franklin County, and the consequences of a conviction can be especially harsh and can seriously affect your future. You will not only face significant fines and the potential suspension of your license but can also face jail time and probation. Unfortunately, however, there’s more to it than this. A conviction on either an OVI or DUI charge can have serious social consequences, especially since your conviction can be obtained via public records. These consequences can include:
● Limited ability to rent a home or apartment
● Limited ability to obtain federal student loans to further your education
● Loss of professional licensure
● Limited employment opportunities
A charge of aggravated OVI can reach the felony level and advance to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Our intrepid legal team is here to help and is on your side regardless of the kind of charge you face.
Misdemeanor offenses are typically tried in the Franklin County Municipal Court, and there are plenty of misdemeanor charges on the books, including all the following categories:
● Minor misdemeanors
● Fourth-degree misdemeanors
● Third-degree misdemeanors
● Second-degree misdemeanors
● First-degree misdemeanors
Even a minor misdemeanor can lead to negative consequences, including steep fines, penalties, and even a criminal record.
The first-degree misdemeanors are the most serious and include all of the following:
● Marijuana charges – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to possess an amount of marijuana that exceeds a specific threshold. A prior conviction or proximity to a school can exacerbate the seriousness of the charge.
● Possession of a controlled substance – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to possess drugs other than marijuana, including prescription drugs and narcotics. Being charged with possession of a controlled substance can lead to serious legal consequences.
● Possession of drug paraphernalia or drug abuse instruments – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to possess the instruments and tools that are commonly associated with facilitating the use of illegal drugs. Possession of drug paraphernalia charges are often brought in addition to possession charges.
● Assault and Battery – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to have threatened or caused harmful contact with another.
● Domestic violence – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to have committed assault and battery (or something similar) against a family member, a member of their household, or either a current or former significant other.
● Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to have had consensual sex with someone who is the legal age to consent, which is also known as statutory rape. Many sex offenses are felonies, but the charge of unlawful sexual contact with a minor can be brought as a misdemeanor (in some circumstances).
● Criminal trespass – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to have either entered a property or remained on a property without having the appropriate permission to do so. If no other crime is alleged to have been committed during the event, the lesser crime of burglary may be applied.
● Disorderly conduct – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to have engaged in an act or acts that inconvenience, alarm, or otherwise offend members of the public.
● Resisting arrest – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to have resisted arrest, avoided arrest, interfered in the arrest of someone else.
● Criminal mischief – This charge is levied when a defendant is alleged to have engaged in a criminal act such as deploying tear gas or smoke bombs, infiltrating another person’s online domain, and much more.
Before you can be charged with a felony, the prosecutor must address the matter in front of a grand jury (or in a preliminary hearing). If the grand jury progresses a felony indictment, your felony charges will proceed to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The following are examples of common felony charges:
● Sex crimes – Sex crimes relate to charges of alleged prostitution, sexual assault (including rape), child pornography, and more. The act of being charged with a sex crime, alone, can have far-reaching negative social consequences. And a conviction can lead to extremely difficult legal repercussions.
● Weapons and gun charges – While Ohio recognizes its citizens’ right to bear arms, it’s also serious about clamping down on the illegal use or possession of guns, other firearms, and weapons. If a defendant is alleged to possess a gun or other weapon illegally or to have committed a crime with a weapon in tow, it can lead to serious felony charges.
● Drug charges – Drug charges are typically related to possession or possession with the intent to distribute, as well as the manufacturing or trafficking of illegal drugs. Any of these can lead to felony charges.
● Theft and fraud offenses – If the amount alleged to have been stolen reaches a specific threshold, it becomes a felony offense. Felony theft charges can also be levied when the defendant is alleged to have used fraud to obtain money or property that does not belong to them. Robbery, one of the most serious forms of theft, is a charge that alleges the use of violence or threat of violence during the act of theft.
● Financial crimes – Financial crimes are often referred to as white-collar crimes and relate to the alleged act of defrauding a person, corporation, or agency in the pursuit of financial gain. Embezzlement, forgery, and bribery all fall under the umbrella of financial crimes.
● Property crimes – Property crimes refer to alleged criminal acts that target someone else’s property (instead of targeting that person). Property crimes can include burglary, vandalism or property destruction, arson, and robbery.
Felony charges are serious charges that require serious legal representation. At Joslyn Law Firm, we take great pride in our close knowledge of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and our impressive history of successfully guiding our client’s cases toward resolutions that uphold their rights and support their best interests.
3) Penalties for Criminal Convictions in Franklin County
If you enter either a plea of guilty (under your attorney’s experienced guidance) or are found guilty by a jury, the judge in your case will determine your sentencing. However, Sentencing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and your experienced criminal defense attorney will skillfully advocate for a sentence with the least damaging implications.
While specific charges have maximum sentence limitations, the judge has considerable discretion in the matter and can levy a less burdensome sentence if they deem it appropriate. The maximum sentences for specific misdemeanor convictions include:
● First-degree misdemeanor – Up to six months behind bars and a $1000 fine
● Second-degree misdemeanor – Up to 90 days behind bars and a $750 fine
● Third-degree misdemeanor – Up to 60 days behind bars and a $500 fine
● Fourth-degree misdemeanor – Up to 30 days behind bars and a $250 fine
● Minor misdemeanor – A $150 fine with no imprisonment
Although these are only misdemeanors, having such a conviction on your record can lead to some of the same social consequences that any criminal record can and should never be taken lightly.
The maximum penalties for felony convictions in the Court of Common Pleas are that much more serious, including:
● First-degree felony – 3 to 11 years in prison (with potential enhancements of up to 10 years for repeat violent offenders) and fines of up to $20,000
● Second-degree felony – 2 to 8 years in prison (with potential enhancements of up to 10 years for repeat violent offenders) and fines of up to $15,000
● Third-degree felony – 9 to 60 months in prison (with potential enhancements of up to 10 years for repeat violent offenders) and fines of up to $10,000
● Fourth-degree felony – 9 to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $5,000
● Fifth-degree felony – 6 to 12 months in prison and fines of up to $2,500
Though the sentences imposed on juveniles tend to be less severe, they are nevertheless serious. Juveniles can face unique legal consequences, including being:
● Placed in the court’s custody or removed to a care facility for delinquent children.
● Detained in juvenile facilities.
● Placed under house arrest.
● Placed in community control, which is very similar to adult probation.
● Sentenced to perform community service.
● Sentenced to monitoring, counseling, or treatment for drug and alcohol dependence.
● Subject to curfews.
● Face a protracted waiting period for acquiring a driver’s license.
● Prevented from operating a motor vehicle due to a suspended driver’s license.
● Required to have their attendance at school monitored.
When a juvenile is charged as an adult, their case will process through the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, and they will face adult sentencing.
Some criminal charges have the potential to be resolved through diversion programs that address the legal matter while keeping it off the defendant’s record. The idea behind these diversion programs is to allow those accused of specific kinds of crimes to bypass a conviction by completing a diversion program, often a substance abuse rehabilitation program and probation. The opportunity for diversion can be immensely beneficial. Completing the program can lead to the judge dismissing the case without a conviction.
Franklin County has two important categories of diversion:
● Franklin County Drug Court – For defendants who can benefit from drug and alcohol treatment
● Franklin County Community Intervention and Diversion – For defendants facing mental health or addiction issues
In order to qualify for diversion, the following prerequisites are generally required:
● It is a first-time offense.
● It is a nonviolent crime that is not sexually-based.
● The accused is willing to admit guilt in the matter without actually pleading guilty.
A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will carefully go over your charges and the related circumstances to determine if diversion could be an option for you. Juveniles aged 11 to 17 also have diversion programs available to them. The Franklin County Juvenile Diversion Program is intended for those juvenile defendants who suffer from abuse, neglect, or chemical or alcohol dependency. In order to be eligible for a diversion program, juveniles must meet many of the same prerequisites that adults do. Juvenile diversion programs generally require parental involvement and often include individual counseling, treatment for drug abuse, and more.
4) Warrants in Franklin County
If there is a warrant with your name on it in Franklin County, it probably came about in one of the following two ways:
● A police officer goes before a judge to present probable cause regarding your alleged participation in a crime, and the judge signed an arrest warrant as a result. The officer can use this warrant to arrest you immediately at your home or place of employment or hold off until you come into direct contact with law enforcement (such as a traffic stop).
● If you were scheduled to appear before the court or pay a court-ordered fine but failed to comply, the judge may issue a bench warrant (which the police can carry out in any of the ways mentioned above).
If you think that a warrant may have been issued in your name, hoping for the best is not the way to go. Being arrested in front of your family, friends, loved ones, or coworkers is an experience that cannot be unlived, and when you compound this with the need to have someone bail you out of jail, it makes the situation that much more difficult. Discuss your concerns with an experienced Franklin County criminal defense attorney – who will explore your best legal options with you (in pursuit of the least damaging option). Ideally, this involves having the warrant recalled, but if that’s not possible, it can mean turning yourself in via a controlled process that amounts to damage control.
If you’re facing criminal charges, you understand the gravity of the situation, but you may not know where to turn for the help you need. Your best option involves working closely with a dedicated criminal defense attorney who has considerable experience in the Franklin County court system. It’s only natural to be concerned about incurring the legal expense of an attorney, in addition to the hefty fines you face. Professional legal counsel, however, tends to be invaluable and can actually save you money in the end. Even if you know you’re guilty as charged, this doesn’t mean that having a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side can’t significantly affect the outcome of your case and the ultimate sentence (including fines) you face.
Your formidable attorney will carefully negotiate with the prosecution in pursuit of a plea agreement that achieves your most beneficial case resolution, something you are unlikely to achieve without professional legal know-how on your side.
The Franklin County criminal justice system is challenging at the best of times. When you’re facing charges with serious consequences, it’s not a good time to attempt to master the intricacies of the system, nor is it a great time to attempt to put together a compelling defense. Without skilled legal representation, you are far more likely to be slapped with a far more severe sentence or even to be wrongfully convicted.
There are important benefits from having an intrepid Franklin County criminal defense attorney on your side, including:
● Your attorney will thoughtfully investigate the ins and outs of your case, including all evidence (or lack thereof), in a careful attempt to dig up exculpatory evidence that bolsters your side in the matter.
● Your attorney will investigate whether your constitutional rights were upheld and, if they were not, will attempt to leverage this information in the suppression of evidence against you.
● Your attorney will go over the prosecutor’s case with a careful eye toward determining if there is sufficient evidence to prove the charges levied against you.
● Your attorney will skillfully negotiate with the prosecution for a plea bargain in exchange for a lesser sentence or a charge reduction (as appropriate).
● Your attorney will earnestly advocate for the most lenient sentence possible in your case.
There are few among us who are not familiar with the statement, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in the court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney.” If you’re arrested, you have the right to an attorney, and you’re well-advised to heed this Miranda warning (as it’s known) and remain silent until advised to do otherwise by your attorney.
When faced with an arrest, it’s only natural to want to profess your innocence and give your side of the story, and the detective who’s questioning you is well aware of this impulse. The law requires the Miranda warning to be stated to protect our rights. If your Miranda rights have been read to you, it’s time to invoke your right to an attorney and to remain silent until after you’ve carefully consulted with them. Anything you do say can come back to haunt you, but there is no risk of incriminating yourself when you say nothing.
6) Franklin County Criminal Defense Q&As
In the state of Ohio, municipal courts handle less serious charges, such as traffic offenses, most misdemeanors, and ordinance violations. If you face felony charges, on the other hand, it’s a more serious matter, and your case will be heard at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Before the matter gets this far, however, a grand jury will need to agree to bring the charge against you in the Franklin County Municipal Court.
The Franklin County juvenile court is reserved for charges against those juveniles who are not charged as adults. While juveniles have the same rights that adults do, the court process itself may not include the same procedures. In juvenile court, the judge’s focus is primarily on the youth’s rehabilitation rather than on punishment through detention. Juveniles also have the right to legal counsel. Because the stakes are high, it’s important that they avail themselves of this right.
Juvenile courts prefer to focus on rehabilitation rather than on detention. Some juveniles, however, are sentenced to spend time in either a Department of Youth Services Facility or detention center (the equivalent of jail for juveniles). If, on the other hand, your child is facing adult charges, they will face the sentencing requirements that an adult would. Regardless of the charges your child faces, having experienced legal counsel is in their best interest.
If your child is facing charges in the Franklin County court system, the short answer to whether you should hire an attorney for them is yes, you should. The consequences of a conviction are simply too great not to do everything you can to help keep it off their record.
If you know someone who’s been arrested in Franklin County, it’s very likely that you can locate them via the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Website. This site will also provide you with information about the charges that your loved one is facing. By working with an experienced criminal defense attorney, however, you may be able to provide your loved one with the professional legal counsel they need at this very moment.
Posting bail can allow your loved one to be released from jail pending their court date (or case resolution), and while you naturally want them to get out as quickly as possible, consulting with a formidable criminal defense attorney first is often preferable. If the bail is set too high, for example, the attorney you’ve retained will adeptly argue for either a bail reduction or for no bail requirement at the bail hearing.
You can find information regarding the matter in the Franklin County Municipal Court online through Search Records. If your case is in the Court of Common Pleas, you can find it through the Franklin County Clerk of Courts’ Case Information Online (CIO). Either court’s Clerk of Courts can also help you with your search.
If there is an arrest warrant (or a bench warrant) out for you, the fact is that you can be arrested (likely when you least expect it), but an experienced Franklin County criminal defense attorney will discuss your legal options with you and will help you determine your best path forward.
The warrant for your arrest is unique to the circumstances at hand, A resourceful Franklin County criminal defense attorney can negotiate for your warrant to be cleared and your attendant arrest to be taken off the table. If this isn’t a possibility, your attorney will help you explore your options, with an eye toward eliciting the fewest unfavorable consequences.
Deciding whether pleading guilty is a beneficial strategy hinges on far too many unique variables to make a well-considered determination without the sound legal counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. While the prosecutor in your case is no doubt very invested in convincing you otherwise, you shouldn’t plead guilty without first consulting with an attorney. The consequences for doing so instead of having a well-defined defense strategy in place are far too serious to move forward with a guilty plea on your own. The prosecutor’s strategy is to wear you down to the point that pleading guilty seems like the best way out. A focused defense attorney will help you better understand your options and will employ their considerable negotiation skills in an attempt to obtain a plea bargain that supports your best interests (as applicable).
7) Franklin County Law Enforcement and Other Agencies
When the police make an arrest or issue a citation in Franklin County, it gives rise to a criminal case, and the following contact information for relevant law enforcement agencies pertains:
Dallas Baldwin, Sheriff
Main Office: 614-525-3333
Detective Bureau: 614-525-3350
Civil Division: 614-525-3343
Thomas Quinlan, Chief
Direct Line: 614-645-4600
8) Franklin County Resources
Franklin County has resources available for criminal defendants and their families. Utilizing these resources is essential to your ability to protect yourself from further charges and to effect the most positive overall resolution in your situation. Resources can include community-based services, mental health services, and family services (as applicable).
Some of the community resources available in Franklin County include:
● Franklin County Clerk of Courts – Here, you’ll find an overview of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
● Franklin County: About Us – Learn more about Franklin County here.
● Map of Franklin County – Take a more in-depth look at the city, villages, and townships that make up Franklin County.
● Crime Data for the City of Columbus – This will provide you with statistical information regarding the occurrence of specific crimes in Columbus.
● Franklin County Law Library – Here, you can find a wealth of useful information about Ohio and its legal system.
● Franklin County Auditor – The auditor is the fiscal officer and tax assessor for the county.
● Franklin County Child Support Enforcement – If you have child support concerns, this is where to turn.
● Franklin County Job and Family Services – if you’re facing family-related concerns that involve childcare, employment, healthcare, and more, this agency can be an important resource.
● Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce – The Chamber provides programs and services that encourage businesses’ growth throughout Franklin County.
● Mid-Ohio Psychological Services (Franklin County) – This agency offers mental health and substance abuse services in Franklin County.
● The Center for Family Safety and Healing – This association offers counseling for children and families to promote healthy relationships.
● The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) – RAINN is a national organization that offers support and services for victims of sexual abuse at any age.
9) Franklin County News
Some of the latest crime-related news in Franklin County include:
● An Ohio State University male student was fatally shot in the early morning hours near campus recently. The accused assailant is an 18-year-old-man who is said to have been attempting to force his way into a party at an Ohio State fraternity house when an altercation broke out that led to the shooting.
● Due to the increased violence that two neighborhoods in Columbus have experienced this summer, the federal government is intervening. The U.S. Attorney will be teaming up with prosecutors from Franklin County and Columbus to help stem the tide of escalating violence in both the Linden and Hilltop neighborhoods. Federal laws and attendant penalties tend to be tougher than state laws.
● The Ohio Department of Health reported a record high for both the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the number of related hospitalizations on Thursday, October 15. This news comes on the heels of the previous record set on Wednesday, October 14. The governor warns that the state could experience a tough winter ahead.
10) Franklin County Court Locations and Contact Information
If you or your child has a court date coming up in Franklin County, having the following contact information can prove invaluable:
● Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch
373 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
For general court information, visit the website or call 614-525-4410.
● Franklin County Municipal Court
375 South High Street, 10th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
For general court information, call 614-645-8214 or visit their website. The court’s key personnel include:
● Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
345 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
For general court information, call 614-525-3453 or visit their website. The court’s key personnel include:
● Judge Stephen L. McIntosh (Administrative Judge)
● Judge Richard A. Frye (Presiding Judge)
● Jennifer Goodman (Court Administrator)
● Lori Francescon (Director of Probation)
Franklin County Law Enforcement
Franklin County Incorporated Communities
Unincorporated Areas in Franklin County
Franklin County Zip Codes
Reach Out to an Experienced Franklin County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Joslyn Law Firm Today
If you face criminal charges, whether in the form of a traffic violation, misdemeanor, or felony, it’s important to recognize that without a dedicated criminal defense attorney on your side, it’s very difficult to secure an outcome that upholds your rights. At Joslyn Law Firm, we put you first and are committed to resolving every case we handle as favorably as possible. Our impressive record of success in Franklin County’s juvenile court, municipal court, and Court of Common Pleas speaks for itself, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at (614) 444-1900 for more information today.