The State of Ohio imposes severe penalties for felony convictions. The Ohio sentencing guidelines can be tough. You could face maximum fines and years in prison for a felony conviction. Before you decide to represent yourself or agree to a plea deal, there are a few things you need to know about the Ohio felony sentencing charge.
Felony Crimes in Ohio
The sentencing for felony convictions in Ohio can vary significantly. The nature and severity of the crime, the circumstances surrounding the crime, and the person’s criminal record can all factor into the sentencing.
Before we discuss the penalties for felony convictions, it can help to review some of the most common crimes and where they fall in the felony classifications.
Ohio has five classifications of felonies – F1 through F5. Felonies in the fifth degree are usually non-violent crimes that may be considered “petty” crimes.
Examples of felony charges include:
Crimes generally charged as fifth-degree felonies include:
- Theft of $1,000 or more
- Higher-level drug crimes
- Check fraud and credit card fraud
- Motor vehicle title fraud and license plate theft
- Breaking and entering
The above list is not inclusive of all crimes that fall into this category.
Crimes generally charged as fourth-degree felonies include:
Crimes in this felony category may or may not involve direct physical harm to another person.
Crimes generally charged as third-degree felonies include:
- Reckless manslaughter
- Firearm theft
- Involuntary manslaughter
Many of the crimes in this category are violent crimes, but not all.
Crimes generally charged as second-degree felonies include:
- Aggravated arson
- Felony assault
The harm to persons or property is higher in this category of felonies.
Crimes generally charged as first-degree felonies include:
- Murder aggravated robbery
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Sexual conduct through force (rape)
- Aggravated robbery
These are the most serious felonies on the books.
This category of felonies is new. Aggravating circumstances may make the crimes in this category heinous, including murder of multiple individuals and aggravated murder. The court can include other charges in this category based on the facts of the case.
How Are Felonies Sentenced in Ohio?
The recommended sentencing guidelines provide a range for each felony level. The jury and/or the prosecution may make a sentencing recommendation in some cases. However, the presiding judge makes the final decision regarding sentencing.
The current guidelines for felony convictions are:
Fifth-Degree Felony Penalties
The potential penalties for a fifth-degree felony conviction include six to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. You could also receive up to five years of probation (community control).
Fourth-Degree Felony Penalties
The potential penalties for a fourth-degree felony conviction include six to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. You could also receive up to five years of probation (community control).
Third-Degree Felony Penalties
The potential penalties for a third-degree felony conviction include nine months to three years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. You could also receive up to three years of parole (post-release control). Some third-degree felonies could result in one to five years in prison.
Second-Degree Felony Penalties
The potential penalties for a second-degree felony conviction include two to eight years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. You could also receive up to five years of parole (post-release control). Some second-degree felonies could result in ten additional years in prison.
First Degree Felony Penalties
The potential penalties for a first-degree felony conviction include three to 11 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. You could also receive up to five years of parole (post-release control). Some first-degree felonies could result in ten additional years in prison.
Other Consequences of Felony Convictions
In addition to prison sentences, fines, and probation/parole, you also face other consequences from a felony conviction. Felons lose their right to vote and own or carry a firearm. Having a felony conviction can also make it more difficult to find a job, rent a home, or hold a professional license.
Fighting a felony charge as aggressively as possible is the only way to protect your freedom and your rights.
Potential Defenses to Felony Charges
The defense strategy your criminal defense lawyer chooses is based on the facts of your case. An attorney analyzes your case to determine the best defenses to use before a judge or a jury. Not every defense strategy will work in every case.
Potential defenses to felony charges might include:
- Violations of your civil rights
- Illegal searches and seizures (which can result in evidence being inadmissible in court after a motion to suppress)
- Lack of probable cause for a seizure, stop, or arrest
- An alibi that is strong and verifiable by a reliable source
- Lack of evidence to prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
- Other scenarios that could explain how the crime occurred without your involvement
- Lack of intent or other legal elements required to prove the case
- Your actions were in self-defense of yourself or another person
- The police arrested you as the result of an illegal entrapment operation
In some cases, creating sympathy for the defendant is an effective defense strategy. Hiring a skilled, talented trial attorney can give you an advantage. An attorney who is skilled at swaying a jury can be a considerable advantage in a major criminal trial.
What Should You Do if You Are Arrested for a Felony Charge?
Do not answer questions from the police or anyone else. The only person you should discuss the case with is your criminal defense lawyer. Talking to family or friends could make them witnesses in your case.
Even if you are innocent, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Felony charges are serious. Innocent people go to jail.
If you are released on bond, stay out of trouble and follow your release terms. Do not contact the victim or any co-defendants. If you have concerns or questions, call your lawyer. Do not take any actions that could impact your case without discussing them with your attorney first.
Contact Our Ohio Felony Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
We take the attorney-client relationship very seriously. Our legal team is passionate about helping our clients get the best possible outcome for their cases. Our criminal defense attorney in Dayton works with you to develop a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of staying out of jail.
If you are charged with a felony offense, you need sound legal advice regarding your options for fighting the charges. Contact our Ohio criminal defense lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your case.