Why You Should Always Appeal Criminal Charges

Appealing a criminal charge has two components. The first involves requesting a trial instead of pleading guilty. The second involves asking a higher court to consider mistakes or injustices that led to a conviction. Explaining everything that happens while contesting an initial charge and pursuing appeals would take a library full of books. Here, the Columbus Ohio criminal defense attorneys will just highlight the most important reasons why you should always consider asking for your day in court and why you may have grounds for appealing a conviction.

Why Contest a Criminal Charge

Every person charged with committing a crime in Ohio and across the United States has the right to request a trial. Exercising that right allows the accused person and his or her criminal defense attorney to do the following things:

  • Examine and analyze all the evidence collected by the police
  • Question law enforcement officials who conducted the investigation and made the arrest
  • Question witnesses who will be called to speak against the defendant
  • Prepare a defense based on evidence and testimony that supports the defendant’s innocence or calls the prosecution’s case into question
  • Enter into discussions with the prosecutor and judge about pleading to a more minor offense that carries a lesser penalty

Going to trial also makes it easier to file an appeal of a conviction. While Ohio does allow a person to ask for a new trial after pleading guilty, succeeding with such a request is exceedingly difficult.

Why Appeal a Criminal Conviction

People convicted of crimes have several opportunities to appeal. The most common is a direct appeal, during which the evidence against the defendant is reconsidered or the way the first trial was conducted is examined. Ohio permits a defendant and his or her defense attorney to file a direct appeal on any of the following grounds:

  • Police and prosecutors collected, stored, analyzed, or presented evidence improperly.
  • Statements made by the defendant during interrogation or by prosecution witnesses were coerced, false, or inadmissible for other reasons.
  • The original judge’s rulings on pretrial motions and objections to courtroom proceedings were incorrect under law or trial guidelines.
  • The sentence imposed exceeded maximum limits spelled out instate statutes.
  • The judge’s instructions to jurors regarding how to interpret relevant laws, weigh different kinds of evidence, or recommend a sentence were unclear or not followed.
  • Violations of the defendant’s civil rights occurred. Examples of this could include not being informed of the right to an attorney or hearing racist comments from law enforcement officials or jurors.

A notice of intent to file a direct appeal must be delivered to the court within 30 days of the original conviction. State law also strongly recommends hiring a new Criminal defense attorney to handle the actual appeals case.

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Life after Bankruptcy: How to Recover

A lot of time, thought, and attention goes into deciding if filing for bankruptcy is right for you and your family. When you feel confident that you’ve made the right decision with the help of a bankruptcy attorney in Columbus, Ohio, a weight is taken off of your shoulders and you likely feel like you can finally move on with your life. Read more

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What Charges Can Be Expunged From My Record in Ohio?

The best way to start answering a question about which criminal charges you can have removed from your record in Ohio is probably to list the offenses that would remain publically searchable for your entire life. Per Section 2953.36 of the Ohio Revised Code, convictions for the following crimes cannot be expunged:

  • Felony or first-degree misdemeanor assault
  • Operating a vehicle while intoxicated/Drunk or drugged driving
  • Most first- and second-degree felonies
  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Aggravated murder
  • Sex crimes in which the alleged victim was younger than 18 years of age
  • Sexual battery
  • Felonious sexual penetration
  • Inducing panic (e.g., causing a riot, making terroristic threats)
  • Inciting to violence
  • Jailed for failure to pay child support to a legal dependent younger than 16 years of age
  • Jailed for not paying traffic fines

Traffic violations also generally do not qualify for expungement since few of them are treated as crimes.

This list of exclusions leaves all virtually all other types of lower-level felonies and misdemeanors as candidates for expungement. A final consideration regarding expungements in general is that a sealed criminal record can often be reopened by court order. Ohio law grants state and federal law enforcement officers, prosecutors, parole and probation officers, and government officials to request access to expunged records. In Ohio, sealing a criminal record does not always equate with destroying it. can you get a dui expunged in ohio

Determining Eligibility for Expungement

To apply for having a conviction placed off-limits from a public records search, you must

  • Satisfy (“discharge” in legalese) all the terms of your sentence, including probation after release from incarceration and making restitution
  • Complete a waiting period of one year after discharging your sentence for a misdemeanor offense or of three years after discharging your sentence for a felony offense
  • Submit a petition and fee to the court that convicted you

Ohio courts also have the authority to automatically seal juvenile records. This can happen after the person who was convicted of an expungable offense while under the age of 18 turns 23 or at any time after five have passed since the person discharged his or her juvenile sentence. Avoiding arrests and convictions following a first conviction goes a long way toward ensuring your juvenile record will be expunged.

Be aware that as of 2016, Ohio allowed people to ask for expungement of only one felony, one felony, and one misdemeanor, or two misdemeanors. What counts as a felony or misdemeanor for the purposes of an expungement petition can get complicated. Rules vary depending on whether the offenses were related and if the sentences were handed down in different jurisdictions. Hiring a Columbus expungement attorney to figure this out will increase your chances of having your request to get your record sealed approved.

Your expungement attorney will also make sure you fill out all the paperwork correctly, collect and attach all necessary supporting documents, and file your petition with the appropriate court. Your lawyer will then represent you during the hearing on your expungement petition.

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What Is the Law for Reckless Operation in Ohio?

Ohio has three basic reckless operation laws on the books. The one that is enforced most often applies to driving vehicles on public roads and highways. Another addresses reckless driving on private property, and the third deals with the reckless operation of boats and personal watercraft.

All deserve to be taken seriously because police and courts treat the alleged offenses as misdemeanors rather than minor traffic violations. Also, a conviction or guilty plea can put 2 or 4 points on a driver’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles record. Anyone who accumulates 12 points within a 24-month period will have their license suspended.

Effective defenses exist against reckless operation charges, especially in cases where the law enforcement officer who made the charge exercised a great deal of personal judgment. Contacting a reckless operation attorney in Franklin County will help an accused driver understand his or her options for going to trial or negotiating a plea deal.

Reckless Operation on Public Roads and Highways

Section 4511.20(A) of the Ohio Revised Code states, in full, “No person shall operate a vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar on any street or highway in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.” Aside from local ordinances that specify that going more than 25 mph over a posted speed limit, law enforcement officials have a great deal of leeway in making a reckless operation charge.

Alleged offenses that can bring a citation for reckless operation include

  • Weaving through slower-moving traffic
  • Jumping a curb
  • Running a stop sign or red light
  • Causing a crash while changing lanes
  • Driving on the shoulder or in the median

Two more important things to know about the general reckless operation charge are that Ohio considers pretty much anything with wheels a vehicle and that receiving a sentence for reckless operation requires going to court and appearing before a judge.

Off-road Reckless Operation

This statute — O.R.C. 4511.201 — uses the same “willful or wanton disregard” language as the law pertaining to driving on public roads and highways. It applies, however, to parking lots, driveways, trails, and beaches. Exceptions exist for off-road racing and vehicle demonstrations, but such events must be organized and carried out with the knowledge and permission of the property owner.

Reckless Operation on the Water

O.R.C. 1547.07 actually details which behaviors by boaters will be considered reckless. The first paragraph of the statute lists vessels, water skis, and aquaplanes and prohibits operators from acting “carelessly or heedlessly, or in disregard of the rights or safety of any person, vessel, or property, or without due caution, at a rate of speed or in a manner so as to endanger any person, vessel, or property.”

Later paragraphs make it illegal to go airborne while crossing wakes within 100 feet of another vessel, to follow another vessel too closely, to come within 200 feet of a water skier being towed by another boat, to cause another vessel to swerve to avoid a collision or to weave through traffic.

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The Most Common Traffic Tickets

During 2015, the Ohio State Highway Patrol recorded a little more than 1.5 million traffic stops. Troopers issued the highest number of citations for speeding, amounting to 379,000 tickets. The second most-frequently issued traffic tickets, totaling some 116,000, were for failing to use seat belts and child restraints. License violations ranked third. Arrests for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) also constituted a significant proportion of encounters between Highway Patrol officers and drivers, representing nearly 25,000 of the recorded incidents. how to get a traffic ticket dismissed in ohio Read more

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