Apps Streamline Crime Reporting, But Criminal Defense Attorney Sherman TX Warns of Abuse

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced the launch of a new smartphone app aimed at combatting crime earlier this month.  Called “iWatchTexas” (a name notable for its affinity to the iconic “’i” prefix Apple uses), the app allows members of the public to anonymously report suspicious behavior directly to law enforcement. Read more

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How Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You

If you have been accused of a crime, you know how terrifying it is to face the possibility of going to jail. The role of a criminal defense lawyer in Miami is to represent you on charges of committing a crime to the best of your ability.

Jobs of criminal defense attorney

A criminal defense attorney has many jobs. Questioning a witness in court is only a small part of his duties. The primary duty of a defense lawyer is to spend crucial time on a case to gather as much information as possible and to question valuable witnesses.  In fact, a lawyer does not need to step into a courtroom to assist you in your case, because of their job is to negotiate with prosecutors, often resulting in reduced charges or lesser sentences for their clients.  They also give their clients an objective opinion and tell them what is likely to happen.  This is very important for defendants trying to decide whether to accept or reject a plea bargain offer from the prosecutor.

Finding the right criminal defense lawyer

When facing the possibility of having criminal charges brought against you, the prospect of finding the right criminal defense lawyer may become overwhelming.  If the police arrest you, talking to a criminal defense attorney is the most important thing you do, as soon as possible.  It is an urgent priority, so that the lawyer can arrange for bail, and get you out of prison.  The lawyer will also provide you with information about what will happen in the days ahead.

Not everyone can afford to hire a private attorney to represent him or her in a criminal case.  For those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer, a public defender will be assigned to them to handle their case, because has the right to have adequate representation when facing a criminal charge.

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Can You Get in Trouble for Driving While High on Marijuana?

Ohio law treats driving while impaired by marijuana the same as driving under the influence of alcohol. State statutes refer to both alleged criminal offenses as operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI), and courts impose the same types of penalties regardless of whether a person gets convicted of driving while drunk or high. Read more

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Drawbacks to Getting Your License Suspended

Losing your license is more than an inconvenience. Being unable to drive legally can make it impossible to keep a job or meet all your personal and family obligations.

Unfortunately, Ohio courts and statutes recognize more than 30 reasons to suspend a driver’s license. The punishment can apply to everything from leaving the scene of an accident, letting your auto insurance policy expire, failing to pay child support, getting convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI), which is what state officials call driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and much more. AVOID AN OVI CONVICTION ON YOUR RECORD

The drawbacks to getting your license suspended fall into four broad categories:


Limited to No Driving Privileges

Depending on many different factors ranging from the charge and defendant’s history to the quality of the defense or plea deal, an Ohio driver’s license suspension may be partial or total. A partial suspension grants the driver restricted driving privileges, which are usually limited to trips to and from work, medical appointments, and court dates or meetings with a lawyer.

A total suspension usually precedes the reinstatement of restricted driving privileges. For an OVI conviction, the period of total suspension can last anywhere from 15 days to more than a year. While under total or “hard” suspension, a driver is not allowed to drive at all without risking rearrest, jail time, and a new or lengthier suspension. Violating the restrictions on when and where you can drive with a partially suspended license also risks those new and enhanced penalties.

Surrendering your CDL

Suspensions related to criminal charges or convictions usually apply to both your own driver’s license and any commercial driving licenses you hold. This is always true for drunk or drugged driving suspensions.

Under Ohio law, getting a CDL suspended means you cannot legally drive a commercial vehicle until the term of suspension expires and the CDL is fully reinstated. In other words, getting a CDL suspended often means losing a job that requires driving a truck, bus, or taxi. The lesson? Hiring an experienced Columbus, OH, DUI attorney to fight an OVI charge is a must if you drive for a living.


Increased Risk for Future Suspensions

Suffering through one Ohio driver’s license suspension greatly increases your chances for losing your license again. This is especially true if the suspension comes as part of a sentence for driving under the influence.

Not only do periods of total suspension tend to last longer for people under penalty for driving while drunk or stoned, mandated penalties for second and subsequent OVI convictions include automatic suspensions. The longer a total suspension remains in effect, the more likely you will be to have an absolute need to drive somewhere to respond to an emergency. A dedicated Columbus OVI license suspension can negotiate with prosecutors to minimize the harshest sanctions.


Reinstatement Hassles and Expenses

Once a suspension expires, you must jump through several hoops and pay fees to get your license reinstated. You must present the Bureau of Motor Vehicles proof that you have completed your sentence or paid off the debts that cost you your license. If you went through a lack of insurance suspension, you will also need to present a certificate of insurability called an SR-22. On top of that, the BMV will demand a special reinstatement fee and may require you take portions of the CDL test.

Then, when you get your license back, it will carry whatever points your offense merits. For instance, an OVI conviction brings a six-point penalty. Rack up 12 points on a reinstated license, and it will get suspended again.

Hiring an experienced Columbus DUI attorney to fight an OVI charge is a must if you drive for a living.

Offenses That Can Be Expunged in Ohio

Expunging a criminal record in Ohio means placing it off-limits to the public. Law enforcement and court officials can gain access to some expunged records under certain circumstances, but the information will not be available to employers, banks, apartment owners, and others conducting background checks for work-related, financial, or contractual reasons.

Most types of offenses can be expunged provided the person convicted on the charge has fully completed and satisfied all the terms of his or her sentence. The only two types of criminal convictions that cannot be expunged are those involving violence and those related to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also, traffic violations are generally exempt from expungement because actions like speeding and failure to yield are not considered crimes in and of themselves under Ohio law. WHAT CHARGES CAN BE EXPUNGED FROM MY RECORD IN OHIO? 

Current laws in Ohio allow individuals to petition for the expungement of one nonviolent felony, two nonviolent misdemeanors, or one felony and one misdemeanor. Nonviolent criminal offenses include larceny/theft, fraud, white-collar crimes, drug possession, drug trafficking, solicitation/importuning, and burglary. Listing each criminal offense that falls into the nonviolent category would be impossible without reproducing much of the Ohio Revised Code. A simpler way to understand if you may have a chance of getting your criminal record expunged is to ask yourself if you were convicted of one of the following DUI-related or violent crimes:

  • Assault, including sexual assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Homicide
  • Kidnapping/false imprisonment
  • Murder
  • Operating a vehicle while intoxicated
  • Physical control (e.g., intoxicated while in the driver’s seat of a parked car)
  • Robbery

If you can answer no, then you may be eligible for expungement. The other minimum criteria that must be met to have your Ohio criminal record expunged are

  • Release from jail
  • Finished parole
  • Paid all restitution
  • Waited at least one year after completing all terms of your sentence
  • Failed the correct forms with the appropriate court
  • Paid the expungement petition filing fee

Consulting with an experienced expungement lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, before starting to apply for having your criminal record sealed is strongly recommended. Filing an incomplete application form or directing it to the wrong jurisdiction can result in an automatic denial. And you may be given a second chance to petition for expungement.

A knowledgeable Columbus expungement attorney will also be able to provide advice on what information to include with the expungement petition to convince the prosecutor and judge who review the application that you have paid your debt to society in full, kept your post-conviction record clean, and earned the opportunity to leave your past behind you as you apply for new jobs, loans, and educational opportunities.

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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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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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