Crimes are conduct that is prohibited by a written statute that designates a punishment to be imposed by a judge if an offender is convicted. Crimes in Ohio are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are the least serious crimes for which the law imposes a maximum jail sentence of 180 days. Felonies are the most serious criminal offenses and can result in prison sentences ranging from more than one year to life in prison without parole.
A felony conviction can have an effect on a person’s life far beyond the sentence handed down by a judge. Felony convictions can prevent a person from getting a job, holding certain types of professional licenses, serving on a jury, holding public office, or qualifying for some types of federal housing assistance, and they can limit a person’s ability to travel outside the United States.
Attorneys handling felony defense must be aware of the collateral consequences of a felony conviction in addition to having a thorough knowledge of the Ohio criminal code. A person charged with a felony should speak to a criminal defense attorney from Erb Legal LLC to review the facts and potential consequences associated with the criminal charges.
Most felonies are classified according to the severity of the proscribed criminal conduct. For example, a criminal offense classified as a felony of the first degree is more serious and would subject the offender to a harsher, more severe penalty than a felony of the fifth degree, which is the lowest felony classification in Ohio.
Some Ohio crimes are referred to as unclassified felonies because they fall into the felony category, but they are not classified by degree. Aggravated murder and murder are unclassified felony charges. As opposed to classified felonies where the recommended sentences are based upon the degree classification, the penalty for an unclassified felony is specified in the statute under which the prohibited conduct was made a criminal offense.
Examples of classified felony crimes include:
The punishment imposed upon a person convicted of committing a felony in Ohio is left to the discretion of the sentencing judge. State law provides guidelines for judges to follow, depending upon the seriousness of the crime as determined by the degree:
Sentencing reform legislation now requires judges to favor probation, or community control sanctions as it is referred to in the legislation, as an alternative to incarceration for individuals convicted of committing a felony of the fourth or fifth degree. Factors such as an offender’s record of prior criminal convictions and the type of sentences previously imposed are taken into consideration by judges when deciding if probation is an appropriate sentence.
Representation by a felony defense attorney who understands the various sentencing options is important. An experienced attorney can help to ensure that the sentence given to a client is the correct one under the statutory guidelines.
A recently enacted law in Ohio allows officials to take a DNA sample from anyone arrested on a felony charge. Previously, DNA samples were taken from those individuals convicted of a felony, and the information was entered into a statewide database. The change in the law means that even if a person is found to be not guilty of the felony charges, the DNA information will remain in the state’s database. The United States Supreme Court has upheld the right of states to enact such laws.
Other consequences of a felony conviction include:
A knowledgeable felony defense attorney from Erb Legal LLC can advise a person charged with committing a crime of the penalties and collateral consequences that might be associated with a conviction. Contact our office today at (330) 446-3606 for a free, initial consultation. We serve clients throughout Northeastern Ohio, including Medina County, Summit County, Portage County and Wayne County.