A felony is more serious than a misdemeanor and generally results in a much harsher sentence. An experienced Cincinnati defense lawyer might be able to negotiate a plea to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor.
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How Do Prosecutors Decide Whether To Charge You With a Felony or Misdemeanor?
The prosecutor decides whether or not to charge someone with a crime after the police make an arrest. Ohio Revised Code §2901.02 classifies crimes as:
- Aggravated murder
- Felonies (First through Fifth Degree)
- Misdemeanors (First through Forth Degree)
- Minor misdemeanors
Some criminal offenses may be charged as felonies or misdemeanors. The prosecutor considers a variety of factors when deciding how to charge the defendant in those cases. Examples of factors that the prosecutor may consider include:
- The person’s criminal history
- The age of the defendant
- The person’s cooperation or refusal to cooperate with the police officers
- The person’s role in committing the crime (i.e., were they an accomplice, planned the crime, etc.)
- Will the court consider probation as a punishment
- The seriousness of the crime
- Statements from the victims
Drug crimes, DUI (driving under the influence), and other criminal charges could be charges as wobblers. Your defense attorney can use mitigating factors to argue that the charge should be a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Aggravating Factors vs. Mitigating Factors in Ohio
- Driving with a high BAC level in a DUI case
- Having prior criminal convictions on your record
- Causing injury or death to another person during the commission of a crime
- Causing harm or injury to a minor, older person, disabled person, or other vulnerable victims
- Using a weapon to commit a crime
- Hate crimes and crimes targeting specific groups
- Playing a leadership role in the planning and commission of a crime
While aggravating factors can result in a felony offense, mitigating factors can be used to argue for a misdemeanor charge. Some common mitigating factors that might help with your criminal case include:
- Playing a minor role in the crime
- Diminished capacity or mental illness
- Substance addiction
- No prior criminal history
- Victimless crime
- The age of the defendant
- Express sufficient remorse
Many aggravating factors are set by statute and vary by jurisdiction. Attorneys use mitigating factors to argue for a reduced charge and reduced sentencing during plea bargaining and at trial.
What Should I Do if I Am Charged With a Crime in Cincinnati?
Being charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty. Instead, the state has the burden of proving you are guilty of all legal elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, that does not mean you can rest on the fact that you are innocent of a crime. You have the right to defend yourself and should always defend yourself, even if you are innocent. Innocent people are convicted and sentenced in Ohio courts.
Therefore, the first step is to protect your right not to incriminate yourself. That begins with exercising your right to remain silent. You cannot be forced to answer questions or testify if your responses will give the state evidence to prove your guilt.
Unfortunately, many people believe if they are innocent, they can resolve the criminal charges by telling the police what happened. However, talking to the police without a lawyer present is never wise. It does not help your case and could result in a guilty verdict.
Instead, ask to speak with a lawyer and tell law enforcement officers you choose to remain silent. Then, stop talking until you meet with a criminal defense lawyer.
If you go to court without a lawyer, plead not guilty and request an attorney if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Private criminal defense lawyers have more resources and time to work on their client’s cases. However, individuals who cannot afford to hire a lawyer still have the right to legal counsel.
If you are released from jail, contact our office immediately for a free consultation with an attorney. Do not attempt to contact anyone related to the crime, including co-defendants and victims. It is always wise to stop using social media and refrain from discussing criminal charges with anyone, including friends and family members.
Call for a Free Consultation With Our Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyers
Our legal team is here to help you fight the criminal charge against you. Contact our law firm Suhre & Associates, LLC at (513) 333-0014 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense attorney. Don’t accept that your only option is to plead guilty without talking with a lawyer about your case.