Criminal Law FAQ
Criminal Law FAQs
CRIMINAL LAW IS FULL OF QUESTIONS
What’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony? How likely is it that your case will go to trial? From the initial consultation to closing your case file, Palmer Legal Defense is here to help you every step of the way.
WHAT TO EXPECT
What is the fee for a consultation?
We provide a free consultation with no obligation to hire our law office. Your initial appointment is an opportunity for our attorneys to gather information about your situation and answer your questions. This consultation also provides you an opportunity to meet the lawyers in person. It is important that you are comfortable with your Ohio criminal defense attorneys and the office in general. At this consultation, we can help analyze your problem, discuss your options, and discuss legal fees.
How much will it cost for you to handle my criminal law case?
We typically assess legal fees on a flat rate basis. The amount of the flat rate depends on many factors, such as type of charge, jurisdiction, and prior criminal record. Sometimes the fee will be graduated. In this situation, there will be minimum fee, with additional fees in the event of motion hearings or trials.
What is going to happen in court?
Traffic and misdemeanor offenses
Trials are generally considered only as a last resort. At all stages of the process, cases can be resolved by plea negotiations. We will spend a significant amount of time discussing your options as the case progresses. We believe that our clients should participate in the decision-making process. In some situations, trials are necessary. In others, they should be avoided. We will help you make these complicated decisions.
What is “bond” and how does it work?
Courts always require some form of “bond” to secure a defendant’s appearance. Many defendants are not even aware that they are on bond, as most cases do not require any formal payment or signatures. We commonly see three general bond types throughout Ohio courts. While the types of bond are fairly consistent, courts sometimes use differently terminology to describe the bond. Read more
What time period does the government have to file an indictment?
Different offenses carry different statutes of limitations. There are sometimes long delays when felony cases are dismissed in the city municipal courts for a potential future indictment. If the delay exceeds the statute of limitations, there may be a defense. We can discuss the relevant time periods with you as the case progresses.
What kind of timetable can I expect for my case to be resolved?
The type of charge will determine the amount of time necessary for resolution. Minor traffic tickets can generally be handled with minimal court appearances. Misdemeanors may require several court dates in order to obtain the result in your best interest. Despite our best efforts to avoid unnecessary delays, you should expect continuances during the course of your case.
Will I be required to attend all court proceedings?
Your appearance is required at all court appearances unless someone from our law office specifically advises you otherwise. We appreciate your busy schedule and personal obligations, but all efforts should be made to attend all court proceedings. If you are aware of a scheduling conflict, please give us advance notice, and we will do our best to reschedule the matter. Courts frown upon a defendant’s failure to appear at a scheduled court hearing. Despite our efforts, courts often issue warrants to arrest for failure to appear.
What can I expect on the day of court?
Courts often schedule multiple cases at the same time and date. Depending on the jurisdiction, your case may not be heard exactly at the time scheduled and delays are inevitable. You will nonetheless need to be present at your scheduled time. Upon arrival, you should check in with court personnel and advise them that you are represented by Palmer Legal Defense. They will likely instruct you to wait inside or outside the courtroom. Do not worry if you do not see us right away. We often check in with the court prior to your scheduled time and begin working on your case before your arrival. We will make contact with you as soon as possible and provide updates and discuss the situation.
If I only have a speeding ticket, do I need to appear in court?
Depending upon your driving record, we may be able to handle your hearing without your presence if you complete an absentia form we provide. The form must be notarized and returned to us before your court date.
Can an old charge be removed from my record? What about Ohio’s expungement law?
Under Ohio law, records from certain convictions may be sealed and treated as if it never happened. When we help people clean or expunge their records, we start with some basic questions. The first is whether the particular offense is eligible to be sealed. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer offenses qualify under the law. For instance, any offenses of violence and most sex offenses (as defined by the Revised Code) cannot be sealed. And Ohio law does not permit traffic offenses (including OVI’s) to be sealed. Assuming the offense is eligible, the next question pertains to the prior and subsequent criminal record. Under the law, only first time offenders qualify. Other convictions on unrelated matters may render the person ineligible. Further, any OVI conviction (even though a traffic offense) precludes sealing of any other convictions.
How can I see my driving record?
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles allows online access to a driver’s record (called an “abstract”). This is technically an unofficial record, but it can be very helpful in determining driver’s license status. Go to Ohio’s BMV website and click on “BMV driving records”. Then click “Certified 3-Year Driving Record”. A $5.00 fee applies per the request. You will also need to know your driver’s license number and the last four digits of your social security number.
NAVIGATING THE TRIAL PROCESS
How likely is it my case will go to trial?
Trials are rare, with just 2.5 percent of Ohio criminal cases going to trial in 2012. Most cases resolve by plea negotiations. But every case is unique. There is no definitive rule on this. The defendant needs to consider numerous factors in deciding whether to go to trial. The costs and risks of trial must be weighed against the likelihood of success. Sometimes the choice is easy, while other times it is far more difficult. We believe in representing clients, and clients have problems unique to their circumstances. We strive to work with the client intimately to help make this difficult decision. We do not start with the premise that all cases should go to trial. And we certainly do not believe that all cases should resolve in a plea bargain. Our job is to help unravel all the variables and make sure the client makes the best decision under their own circumstances.
What kinds of crimes go to trial?
Any case can go to trial. Although we often see the most serious matters in trial, that is not always the case. Sometimes the more serious offenses carry the risk of greater consequences. We commonly have trials on all matters, including OVI, traffic, and complex criminal cases. Each client’s case must be assessed individually, considering the evidence, the consequences, and (most important), what is best for the client.
CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWS
What’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is less serious and carries a lighter punishment than a felony. In Ohio, the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
What’s the difference between federal and state white-collar crimes?
The difference between Ohio state and federal white-collar crimes is based on whether you have violated an Ohio state or federal law. Similar to other types of criminal law, if your crime involves a federal agency then you have committed a federal crime. There are specific federal agencies that are often affected by white collar crimes, such as the IRS, United States Postal Service, Securities and Exchange Commission and United States Treasury. Often conduct results in a violation of both federal and state law. It is up to the authorities, sometimes with the input of the defense attorney, where the case will be prosecuted. And, in some circumstances, crimes can be prosecuted on both the federal and state levels.
- Giving back any monies or property you have unlawfully taken
- Surrender money and/or property
- Remain on home detention
- Released under strict supervision
How does the expungement law process work?
Under Ohio law, records are sealed not expunged. In practical terms, there may not be much difference. But the nomenclature in Ohio is different than most other states.
Can I appeal my criminal conviction?
When a jury or judge renders a decision in a criminal trial, the defendant has the right to appeal the decision. Many criminal cases that result in litigation go on to the appellate process.