Most broadly defined, a misdemeanor crime in Ohio is any criminal offense punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and fines that total no more than $1,000. Many violations of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) can be charged and prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The decision regarding which penalties to seek depends on the language of the controlling statute and the perceived seriousness of the alleged harm. For instance, petty theft of $200 from an open and unattended cash register will most likely draw a misdemeanor charge. Conversely, stealing a car that has a Blue Book value of $15,000 will bring a felony grand theft charge.
What Are Some Examples of Misdemeanor Crimes in Ohio?
A short list of criminal offenses that can be considered misdemeanors includes
- Breaking and entering
- Disorderly conduct
- Illegal possession of a single dose of a controlled substance such as cocaine or methamphetamine
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated, the official charge for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Petty theft
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Possession of less than 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of marijuana
- Public intoxication
- Solicitation of sex, which the ORC calls importuning
Do Different Types of Misdemeanors Get Punished Differently?
Yes. The least-serious offenses like crossing the street against the light or violating a noise ordinance are treated as minor misdemeanors punishable by only a fine of less than $150. Court costs and administrative fees may also be assessed. In short, a minor misdemeanor amounts to a low-level traffic ticket.
For more serious charges, Ohio law provides four degrees of misdemeanors. The basic misdemeanor penalty chart looks like this:
|Misdemeanor||Jail or Community Control||Fine|
|First-Degree (highest level)||Up to 180 days||Up to $1,000|
|Second-Degree||Up to 90 days||Up to $750|
|Third-Degree||Up to 60 days||Up to $500|
|Fourth-Degree||Up to 30 days||Up to $250|
Losing one’s driving license and CDL is a frequent additional penalty for a misdemeanor offense, especially one related to drunk or drugged driving. On a more positive note, many misdemeanor sentences that include an incarceration competent permit the convicted individual to serve the days over consecutive weekends or at nights while working their regular jobs during the day.
Do You Need to Hire a Defense Lawyer for a Misdemeanor Case?
Speaking with a Columbus, Ohio, criminal defense lawyer will always benefit you. First, your legal adviser can explain why you received a specific charge and what the consequences of a conviction or guilty plea could be. Your defense attorney can then fight to ensure your rights are respected so that no improperly collected evidence or testimony is used against you.
If your case goes trial, your legal representative will speak for you and challenge the prosecution’s assertions. Your defense lawyer may also be to help you avoid an unfairly harsh sentence by concluding a favorable plea deal when securing an acquittal seems unlikely.
Never take any criminal charge that can result in a jail sentence lightly. To discuss your options for fighting against a misdemeanor conviction, contact the Probst Law Office online or over the phone by calling (614) 656-4508. As a Columbus criminal defense law firm, the members of the Probst team can assist with all cases, and the first meeting is free. Learn more.