The Types of Ohio Courts

Ohio’s court system operates in three tiers:

  • Trial Courts: These are the first point of contact for most legal matters in the Ohio criminal court system. They include mayor’s courts and municipal courts (minor crimes and civil cases), county courts (domestic relations and juvenile issues), and common pleas courts (general jurisdiction for civil and criminal cases).
  • Appellate Courts: These courts review decisions made by trial courts. Ohio has 12 district courts of appeals, each covering a specific geographical area.
  • Supreme Court of Ohio: The state’s highest court has the final say on matters of law and interprets the Ohio Constitution.

Navigating Ohio Court Proceedings

You need to know some key concepts when navigating an Ohio legal case.

Jurisdiction & Venue

Jurisdiction is the power and authority a court must hear your case. Venue is the location that is appropriate for your case. Factors like the type of case, location, and potential damages are considered when determining which venue, a case will be heard in. Filing your case in the proper venue is essential because it could be dismissed if you do not.

For example, if you are facing felony drug charges in Medina County, your case would be heard by a Medina County Court of Common Pleas judge. If you have a family law issue (like child custody) in Summit County, your case will be heard in the Summit County Domestic Relations Court.

Ohio Court Procedures & Rules

Ohio courts handle a wide range of various civil disputes, family law, criminal matters, juvenile delinquency, and traffic violations. Each type of case has its own procedures and rules. In fact, each court may have its own rules as well.

You can view the complete list of Ohio court rules here.

It’s important to work with attorneys experienced with your specific case type and know the courts in which your case will be heard. If you break a court rule, you risk the judge being upset or your case being thrown out.

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Ohio Courthouse FAQs

What Is a Mayor’s Court in Ohio?

An incorporated location with a population of more than 200 may establish a mayor’s court where the mayor acts as the judge. They typically hear traffic offenses and other violations of municipal ordinances with certain limitations.

Mayor’s courts typically have concurrent jurisdiction with an Ohio municipal or county court, and the cases are often transferred.

What Is the Domestic Relations Court?

A domestic relations court is a specialized Ohio family court system that handles legal matters related to families and domestic partnerships. These can include divorce, child custody and child support, spousal support or alimony, adoption, paternity, and domestic violence.

Domestic relations courts are typically part of a larger court system, such as an Ohio common pleas court. The specific procedures and rules for domestic relations courts vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

What Is Ohio Juvenile Court?

A juvenile court, also known as a young offender’s court or children’s court, is a specialized court system that deals with legal matters involving minors. It plays a role in addressing delinquency, dependency or neglect, and status offenses. Juvenile courts differ from adult courts in that they focus on rehabilitation. They are less adversarial, meaning the goal is collaboration instead of punishment.

Additionally, there is confidentiality in Ohio juvenile court cases. Most juvenile proceedings are confidential to protect the privacy of the minor involved. The public and media have limited access to information about juvenile cases.

Where Can I Find Information About Court Forms and Fees?

Each court typically has a list of necessary court forms and court fees in their court rules and online. Additionally, many court forms can be found on the Supreme Court of Ohio All Forms website. This web page is searchable and has some forms in multiple languages.

What to Expect in Ohio Court Proceedings?

The specifics of what you can expect in court proceedings will vary depending on the type of case you’re involved in, the jurisdiction, and even the individual judge.

Before any hearing, you should prepare by gathering relevant documents and following your attorney’s instructions carefully. Dress professionally and respectfully. Try to arrive on time to allow for security screening. During the security screening, you will walk through a metal detector and place your belongings on a counter to be examined.

While in the courtroom, you should be respectful. Stand when the judge enters and leaves the courtroom. Address the judge as “Your Honor.” The judge will explain all Ohio legal proceedings to the parties. Listen carefully and be calm. Court proceedings can be unpredictable and may last longer than expected. Be prepared for delays and bring necessary items like reading material or snacks.

How Do You Find Court Records in Ohio?

Every court has a different method of finding records. Most civil and criminal court records are available online. However, if you are looking for domestic relations or juvenile case records, they may not be readily available to the public. You may have to request them from the clerk of courts directly or ask your attorney to get them for you.

How to File a Case in Ohio Court?

Filing a case in Ohio court can be complex and requires that you meet certain deadlines with specific documents. You must determine your eligibility for court action, choose the correct court, and gather evidence and documentation. Then, you need to draft a complaint or petition, file your case (usually online), and pay the required fees. Don’t forget to serve the other party.

Work with an Experienced Lawyer

Erb Legal has a team of legal professionals who know how Ohio laws apply to cases like yours. We know you likely have more questions about your case. We have answers. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.