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What Is the Criminal Defense Process in Ohio?

Updated: April 13, 2022
Nicholas G. Gounaris
By Nicholas G. Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

criminal justice process

The criminal justice process is intimidating and challenging to follow.

That’s why you need a highly experienced criminal trial lawyer to protect your rights.

There’s simply too much at stake to try to tackle this process on your own.

At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, our criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the accused.

We understand the criminal process in Ohio because we are in court every day.

Contact us today if you need immediate assistance from one of our award-winning criminal defense lawyers.

What Is the Criminal Investigations Process in Ohio?

The criminal justice process starts when someone calls the police to report a crime. Officers begin work identifying the person who committed the crime right away.

As they look for physical evidence and talk to witnesses, a picture unfolds.

Depending on the situation, the police might close the case with an immediate arrest, or they might continue investigating. 

The police can arrest you if they have probable cause. Probable cause is the lowest standard of proof used in the criminal justice system.

Probable cause exists if a reasonable person would believe a crime occurred and the person identified committed the crime. 

What Happens After an Arrest?

The police will bring you in for booking. They will fingerprint you, take a mugshot, check your criminal background, and confirm your name and date of birth. 

The police might ask you to give an interview. You should know that the police must give you the Miranda warnings if they ask you any questions beyond normal booking questions.

They can ask you things like your name, age, and where you live, but you are under no obligation to answer questions about the crime or the investigation.

So the Miranda warning reminds you of important rights. Use those rights because they protect your freedom.

Call an experienced Ohio criminal defense lawyer before speaking with the police. 

You will then go to court for your first appearance after booking. There may be a bond that you need to post to secure your attendance in court. 

What Is the Ohio Criminal Trial Process?

The criminal trial process begins with your first appearance in court. This is called an arraignment.

At the arraignment, the judge tells you the charges, informs you of your trial rights, and asks for a plea.

The court might also set bail depending on your specific circumstances.

The judge could impose a cash bail and add conditions like wearing a GPS ankle bracelet and order you to stay away from certain people or locations while your case proceeds through the criminal trial process.

What Options Do You Have When the Judge Asks for Your Plea?

You have three options when the judge inquires about your plea. They are:

  • Not Guilty,
  • Guilty, or 
  • Nolo contendere (No Contest).

Having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney represent you at your arraignment can help you avoid making huge mistakes that are not easily fixed.

Entering a not guilty plea means that you contest the allegations the state made against you. Pleading guilty is just the opposite.

It means that you do not contest the allegations and are the person guilty of the alleged crime.

Finally, pleading no contest means that you do not wish to contest the facts of the case but are not admitting guilt.

The judge will sentence you after your guilty or no contest plea. 

Pleading not guilty means the case proceeds toward a trial. However, you do not get an immediate trial.

You get to see the evidence the prosecution has so you can prepare a defense. This is often called the “discovery phase” of the case.

What Is a Preliminary Hearing?

A preliminary hearing is a crucial step in the criminal justice process. You have a right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of your first court appearance if you have felony charges. 

A preliminary hearing is like a trial, except you don’t have a right to a jury at this time.

The prosecution will present evidence to the judge. Your attorney will cross-examine witnesses and may even present evidence in your favor. 

The judge will determine whether probable cause exists to take your case to trial. 

What Is a Pre-Trial Hearing?

A pre-trial hearing is an important step in the Ohio criminal trial process.

At this stage of the trial procedure, your attorney can file motions to suppress, motions to dismiss, additional discovery motions, and other pleadings with the court.

The judge may rule on those motions at the pre-trial hearing or schedule them for another date before your trial. 

Your lawyer may engage in plea negotiations with the prosecutor at this time. You could end up with a favorable result through plea negotiations.

Should You Go to Trial?

This is a question that you must discuss with your trusted attorney. You have an absolute right to go to trial. But going to trial is risky.

If the jury finds you not guilty, you are free from facing these charges again. On the other hand, if the jury finds you guilty, you face the possibility of serving the maximum sentence for the crime. 

A defense lawyer with a track record of success can weigh the risks and rewards of going to trial so that you can make the best decision. 

Contact Gounaris Abboud for Help Now

The Ohio defense lawyers with Gounaris Abboud, LPA can help you through the criminal justice process.

No matter what charges you face, our award-winning lawyers will be there for you.

Our defense lawyers proudly boast prestigious honors such as a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo rating, an annual spot among Ohio’s Super Lawyers rankings, and a spot in the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 rankings.

We didn’t win those awards by accident. We fight for our clients and obtain results. Call us today at 937-222-1515 or contact us online for more.

Available 24/7 & Obligation-Free