Ohio Criminal Process


Many people who are arrested in Ohio have very little understanding of and familiarity with the criminal justice system. For this reason, some people often have numerous concerns about court appearances and what can be expected at each stage of a criminal case.

Ohio Criminal Process

No two criminal cases are entirely the same, so one case may take several months or even years to resolve while another case involving the exact same crime is resolve relatively quickly. Every case involves its own unique complicating factors that can may introduce mitigating or aggravating factors in some cases.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in Columbus, OH | Sabol | Mallory

If you were arrested for any kind of criminal offense in the Columbus area, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. You will want a criminal defense lawyer by your side when you walk into the courtroom.

Sabol | Mallory can conduct an independent investigation to determine the best possible defense in your case and fight to possibly get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (614) 300-5088 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.

Investigation and Arrest

Many criminal cases begin with police officers witnessing the commission of criminal offenses. Some cases involve police departments or other agencies conducting investigations and filing criminal charges at the conclusion of those investigations.

When a person is arrested, they will typically be taken to the local jail in their municipality to be photographed and fingerprinted. During the time that they are in custody, their personal effects will be kept in storage.


The arraignment is the first appearance an alleged offender makes in court following their arrest. During the arraignment, the alleged offender is informed of the criminal charges filed against them and is then asked to enter a plea.

Most people plead not guilty during the arraignment. The three plea options are typically not guilty, under which an alleged offender denies the charges against them, guilty, under which an alleged offender admits to the charges against them, or no contest, under which an alleged offender denies the criminal charges but cannot prevail against them.

During the arraignment, a judge will also determine if an alleged offender is eligible for bail and then set a bail amount.

Discovery and Plea Bargaining

Following the arraignment, your criminal defense attorney will usually file several motions for discovery. This will allow them to view all of the prosecutor’s evidence against you and begin find weaknesses in their case.

The entire time that you have criminal charges in the court system, the prosecutor will be negotiating a plea agreement or plea deal with your lawyer. In most cases, a prosecutor may be willing to reduce the criminal charges in exchange for a guilty plea.

The terms of a plea bargain can be very important, because a violation of the terms could result in the plea bargain agreement being thrown out and the original criminal penalties being imposed.

Preliminary Hearing

Preliminary hearings are typically held within 10 days of arraignments in felony cases, and preliminary hearings in felony cases are often heard in the same municipal courts that handle misdemeanor cases. The prosecutor must submit sufficient evidence to compel a judge to rule that probable cause exists to believe the alleged offender committed the crime involved.

Pre-Trial Hearing

The pre-trial hearing usually occurs to see if the two parties can arrive at a plea agreement to avoid a possible trial. Each side will present evidence relating to the case, and a criminal defense attorney may attempt to file motions to prevent evidence from being considered in some cases.

Criminal Trial

When a case does go to trial, it can be a very lengthy process. Both sides will have to participate in the jury selection process.

Both sides will also be given the opportunity to present their opening statements before both sides present their evidence. Each side will then present their closing arguments and the judge will give the jury specific instructions.

After the trial concludes, the jury will render a verdict. If the alleged offender is convicted of the crime, the judge may sentence them immediately or set a separate date for sentencing.


When a person believes that their conviction involved an error in the application of law, they can appeal to a higher court. There are essentially four appeals courts in the Columbus area:

  • Fourth District Court of Appeals — Located in Chillicothe, this court hears appeals from trial courts in Adams County, Athens County, Gallia County, Highland County, Hocking County, Jackson County, Lawrence County, Meigs County, Pickaway County, Pike County, Ross County, Scioto County, Vinton County, and Washington County.
  • Fifth District Court of Appeals — Located in Canton, this court hears appeals from trial courts in Ashland County, Coshocton County, Delaware County, Fairfield County, Guernsey County, Holmes County, Knox County, Licking County, Morgan County, Morrow County, Muskingum County, Perry County, Richland County, Stark County, and Tuscarawas County.
  • Tenth District Court of Appeals — Located in Columbus, this court hears appeals from trial courts in Franklin County.
  • Twelfth District Court of Appeals — Located in Middletown, this court hears appeals from trial courts in Brown County, Butler County, Clermont County, Clinton County, Fayette County, Madison County, Preble County, and Warren County.

The Ohio Supreme Court has the discretion to review cases from the courts of appeals, but the appeals process for most cases in Ohio typically ends with the decision of the court of appeals. In a federal case, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division is in Columbus.

Contact a Columbus Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Were you arrested for an alleged criminal offense in the greater Columbus area? No matter how confident you are in your innocence, you should still exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation.

Sabol | Mallory has over two decades of combined experience handling all kinds of criminal defense cases. You can have our attorneys help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (614) 300-5088 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

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