criminal charges

If you face any type of criminal charge in Ohio, it can be a stressful and scary experience. However, there are certain rights to protect you throughout the process. 

Whether you’re accused of a misdemeanor or a felony, these protections under the law could make a difference in the outcome of your case. No matter the situation, you need to know your rights. Let’s look at our guide for Ohioans facing criminal charges.

What You Need to Know About Understanding Your Rights

Every American citizen is granted certain rights under the United States Constitution. If the police, prosecutors, or anyone else violates these rights during the process, it could lead to serious consequences. These rights include:

The Right to Remain Silent

After you have been arrested, you have the right to remain silent. Any statement can be used as evidence against you. Even those harmless answers could be misconstrued by the police or a prosecutor. During this time, you can politely decline any questions without your attorney by your side. 

The Right to an Attorney

No matter your situation, you have the right to get legal counsel for your case. Even if you cannot afford a lawyer, the court can appoint a public defender to your case. With an attorney’s help, you can ensure your rights are defended throughout the process. 

The Right to Due Process

While the first two rights are often common knowledge, many people forget about the right to due process. In short, you have the right to a fair trial. 

With that, you must be notified of the charges against you, have access to evidence, and be able to question witnesses. In some situations, if a person’s due process rights are violated, that could impact the case’s validity. 

Right to a Speedy Trial

Along with the above, you also have a right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment. If there are unnecessary delays, that can weaken a case. For example, witnesses may forget key details, or evidence could degrade over time. This right ensures that your trial takes place over an acceptable period of time. 

The Criminal Justice Process in Ohio

Now that you know your rights, let’s examine how the process works in the state of Ohio. There are several steps to the criminal justice process. 

Reporting and Investigation

Whether an officer has witnessed a crime or investigators received a tip, a thorough investigation will take place. Often, you will be interviewed by law enforcement. Remember, you have the right to remain silent and have an attorney present. 

Also, the investigators will use this time to collect evidence and question witnesses. While you may want to help in the process, especially if you feel you are not guilty of the charge, that may not work in your favor. Always reach out to your attorney to determine the best course of action for your case. 

Charging and Indictment

After the investigation, the case is turned to the prosecutor. They will decide whether to file charges. If so, an indictment will be issued outlining the specific charges against you. 

At this stage, you have been officially charged with a criminal offense and will need to attend several hearings on the matter. 

Initial Hearings and Discovery

You will be informed of the charges and your rights at the initial hearing. However, your legal team can now exchange evidence during the discovery phase and start preparing a defense strategy for your case. 

Plea Bargaining, Trial, and Sentencing

Sometimes, it may be beneficial to plea bargain the charges. In these situations, you negotiate a reduced sentence or lesser charge. But if no agreement can be reached, then the case will proceed to trial. Unfortunately, not all trials will go in the favor of the defendant. If that is the case, you could be sentenced to incarceration or probation. However, you do have a right to appeal the decision. 

Learn More About Your Rights and the Criminal Process in Ohio

In any of these situations, you need a criminal law attorney by your side. Proceeding through any of these steps can be challenging. If you don’t understand your rights, it could lead to an unfavorable resolution to your case. Know your rights! Any Ohioans facing criminal charges should seek the assistance of a qualified legal professional.

If you have any questions, the team at Axelrod Law Office in Lake County, OH, is ready to help. Call our office at (440) 271-8126 or submit a contact form to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation.