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Criminal Defense

Mr. Schwartz knows that being charged with a crime can be an extremely traumatic experience.  It is an experience that you do not want to go through alone.  You want to know that your attorney is doing everything he can in furtherance of your best interests.

He also understands the confusion that is created when you are charged with a crime.  You need an attorney that will have the patience to sit down and discuss every aspect of your case.  You will be making important and potentially life altering decisions.  You need to understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.

He has experience representing clients on both misdemeanor and felony charges. Charges including but not limited to assault, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, theft, drug possession, drug trafficking, burglary, robbery, sex offenses, felonious assault, attempted murder and murder. After over a decade representing clients charged with criminal offenses he has the experience you need for your defense.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact Mr. Schwartz.  He will sit down with you face to face and discuss your situation.  You will not go through an unnecessary intake interview.  You will not be screened by a receptionist or passed off to a law clerk.  You will speak directly with him because he knows how important that can be.


Although the criminal process is similar throughout the country, some slight differences exist in each state. Here’s a general look at what happens if you’re charged with a crime in Ohio.

The Arrest

People can be arrested if there’s good reason – probable cause – for a law enforcement officer to believe they’ve committed a crime. Sometimes the arrest is on the spot because the officer witnessed the crime. More often, arrest occurs after investigators gather evidence. Sometimes officers will ask judges for arrest warrants, but that doesn’t happen often.

Before officers can begin questioning a suspect after an arrest, they must inform him or her about important rights. Judges can throw cases out if suspects aren’t advised of their constitutional rights to remain silent and to have an attorney.

After the arrest, the accused is booked at a police station. The suspect is photographed and fingerprinted, and personal items such as rings, watches and wallets are taken. The accused will have bail set and will either be released or sent to jail.

First Appearance and Arraignment

Within three days after the arrest, a suspect will be arraigned. At this hearing, the judge tells the accused about the charges leveled against him and reviews bail. The accused has an opportunity to enter a plea: either guilty, not guilty or no contest. A guilty plea is rare at this stage.


Ohio defendants have the right to ask for a preliminary hearing if they’re charged with a felony. The hearing must be held within 10 days of the initial court appearance. At the hearing, the prosecutor must convince the judge that there’s enough reason to believe the defendant committed the crime. If the judge agrees, the case is set for trial. If he doesn’t, the case is dismissed.

Making A Deal

Most criminal cases are resolved when the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to reduced charges or in exchange for a lighter sentence. Ohio judges usually abide by plea agreements, although they don’t have to.

Preliminary and Grand Juries

Preliminary hearings are rare in Ohio. Cases usually stem from either a complaint, a warrant and summons, or a grand jury indictment. An indictment occurs when a majority of 12 grand jurors agrees that the prosecutor has enough evidence to indicate a crime has been committed.

The Trial

Citizens can be tried by jury or before a judge if both sides agree to this. Most felony trials are held before juries, and in Ohio, they must take place within 275 days of the arrest. Both sides present their evidence and arguments, then the jury decides if the prosecution has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If all jurors can’t agree, a mistrial is declared and the case can be tried again before new jurors. Although Ohio has broad sentencing guidelines, judges are the ultimate authority in deciding about prison or jail time, probation, community service or restitution.


Felony Level Prison Time Maximum Fine
F1 (First Degree) 3 to 11 $20,000
F2 2 to 8 $15,000
F3 12 to 60 Months**
9 to 36 Months
F4 6 to 18 Months $5,000
F5 6 to `12 Months $2,500

** For certain high level F3 crimes


Misdemeanor Level Jail Time Maximum Fine
M1 (First Degree) Up to 180 Days $1,000
M2 Up to 90 days $750
M3 Up to 60 days $500
M4 Up to 30 days $250
MM (Minor Misdemeanor) None $150


Ohio classifies felony offenses into five categories: first, second, third, fourth, and fifth degree felonies. First-degree felonies are the most serious category, while fifth-degree felonies are the least serious.

Additionally, Ohio has a number of felony offenses that are not identified by degree.

For information on Ohio misdemeanors, see Ohio Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.

Sentence Range for Each Level

Anyone convicted of an Ohio felony faces a sentence commensurate with the degree of the felony involved. Each felony category has a sentence range:

  • First-degree felony: 3 to 11 years in prison
  • Second-degree felony: 2 to 8 years in prison
  • Third-degree felony: 9 months to 5 years in prison
  • Fourth degree felony: 6 to 18 months in prison
  • Fifth degree felony: 6 to 12 months in prison


Unclassified felonies

Murder and aggravated murder, the two most serious felonies in Ohio, are not categorized by degree. Instead, the law allows for specific penalties for both of these crimes. For someone convicted of aggravated murder, the potential penalty ranges from death to life with the possibility of parole after 20 years. For someone convicted of murder, the possible sentence ranges from 15 years in prison to life in prison without parole.

Mandatory Sentences

Ohio also imposes mandatory prison terms in some felony cases. Such cases include aggravated murder, murder, rape or attempted rape of a child under the age of 13, some sexual offenses, possession of a firearm during felony, and others. In such cases, a court must impose a specific penalty or penalty range.

For example, someone convicted of aggravated murder must serve at least 20 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole; while someone who uses, displays, or brandishes a firearm during the commission of certain crimes faces a mandatory minimum of three years in prison.


In addition to, or separate from, a prison sentence, someone convicted of a felony offense in Ohio can also be sentenced to pay a fine.

Like incarceration sentences, fines differ depending upon the degree of the felony convicted. The maximum amounts are:

  • First-degree felony: $20,000
  • Second-degree felony: $15,000
  • Third-degree felony: $10,000
  • Fourth degree felony: $5,000
  • Fifth degree felony: $2,500

Additionally, someone convicted of murder faces a maximum fine of $15,000, while someone convicted of aggravated murder faces a maximum fine of $25,000.

Examples of Crimes in Each Level

The following list of felony offenses is only a small sample of all felonies identified in Ohio law.

  • Unclassified felony
  • Aggravated murder
  • Murder
  • First-degree felony
  • Rape
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Kidnapping
  • Second-degree felony
  • Illegally manufacturing or processing explosives
  • Soliciting prostitution after a positive HIV test
  • Abduction
  • Third-degree felony
  • Reckless homicide
  • Robbery
  • Theft of anhydrous ammonia
  • Fourth degree felony
  • Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor
  • Safecracking
  • Grand theft of a motor vehicle
  • Fifth degree felony
  • Compelling acceptance of objectionable materials
  • Breaking and entering
  • Gambling


Statute of Limitations

If prosecutors want to charge someone in Ohio with a crime, they must first make sure that the legal time limit has not expired. This time limit, known as a statute of limitations, gives prosecutors a limited amount of time in which to file criminal charges. If the time allowed under the statute of limitations has lapsed, prosecutors cannot file charges in that case.

While there is no statute of limitations for murders committed in Ohio, other felonies have a 20, six, or five-year statute of limitations. For a more in-depth explanation of the time limits for felony and misdemeanor offenses, read Ohio Criminal Statute of Limitations.

Aaron Schwartz, the best Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney practices law in Cleveland, Akron, Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Bedford Heights, Garfield Heights, Rocky River, Westlake, Avon, Hudson, Aurora, Solon, Shaker Heights, Beachwood, Lyndhurst, Chardon, Ravenna, Mentor, Willoughby, Painesville, Ashtabula

A reliable Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney in Cuyahoga County, Lake County, Portage County, Geauga County, Summit County, Ashtabula County, and Lorain County.