Oberlin Municipal Court

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Oberlin Municipal Court
YOUR RIGHTS IN COURT
“To us this may be just another day at the
office. For the participants it is perhaps
the single most important event in their
life. Endeavor to treat every case with the
utmost care and attention whether a
simple traffic violation or a serious
allegation of wrongdoing, whether a small
claim or a claim for the maximum
monetary jurisdiction of this Court.”
Thomas A. Januzzi, Judge Oberlin
Municipal Court
The Arraignment
What is an arraignment?
It is the first step in a criminal or traffic
prosecution where the accused appears to
be informed of the charges and enter a
plea
The Charge or Charges
Am I entitled to a copy of the charge or
charges?
Yes. You should have received a copy of the
charge or charges from the police officer.
The charge or charges would be either a
ticket or a complaint or an affidavit. If you
did not receive a copy of the charge or
charges inform a staff member when you
arrive at court
The Pleas
What are my options? How should I plead?
There are three pleas that you can make:
(a) Not Guilty
(b) Guilty
(c) No Contest
Not Guilty
Not guilty
(a) Is a denial of the charge;
and
(b) Protects your rights
You should plead NOT GUILTY if:
1.
2.
3.
4.
You believe you have a defense to the charge;
You wish to speak to an attorney;
You are not sure how you wish to plead;
You believe it would unfair to be convicted of
the charge against you
A plea of Not Guilty is never held
against you
A Plea of Not Guilty
protects your rights
We all have a big bundle of rights
Right to Counsel
The law provides that if a
person is charged with an
offense that has jail as a
possible penalty that the
person is entitled to be
represented by an
attorney of his/her own
choice or an attorney at
the expense of the State
if the person cannot
afford an attorney
Do I need an attorney?
If a charge against
you has jail as a
possible penalty you
should have an
attorney represent
you. Although you
have the right to
represent yourself – it
may not be wise to do
so.
Even if I think I am guilty should I have an attorney
represent me?
Once again, if jail is a
possible penalty you
should have an attorney
represent you. The
attorney is a trained
professional and can help
you decide what is in
your best interests. The
attorney will know if you
have any legal defenses
and can speak on your
behalf on what the
punishment should be
even if you are found
guilty.
Who determines if I cannot afford an attorney ?
Guidelines are published every year by the Ohio Public Defender’s Office. There
are two ways to qualify:
(a)
(b)
The Ohio Public Defender has guidelines based on household size and
income. If you are equal to or under the income guidelines for your
household size – you qualify;
You may still qualify if your expenses exceed your income – even if you
exceed the income guidelines.
Ask the Judge or a court staff member for an application. You will be
required to state your income and expenses under oath in order for the
Judge to consider appointing an attorney to represent you. State law also
now requires that you pay a fee of $25.00 to apply for a court appointed
attorney. This fee is forwarded to the Ohio Public Defender to defray the
costs of the operation of the Ohio Public Defender’s office. If you cannot
even afford the $25.00 you can file a request to waive the application
fee.
Right to a Trial by Jury or Trial by
Judge
The law provides if
the crime has jail as a
possible penalty that
we have the right to
have a trial by jury.
Demand for Jury Trial
If you want a jury
trial you have to
make a written
demand and file it
with the clerk at least
10 days prior to the
date set for trial.
[If the possible jail sentence is more
than 180 days you do not need to
make a written demand – you will
have a jury trial unless you sign a
written waiver of the right to a
jury trial)
Right to Subpoena Witnesses
If there is a witness in
your case that does
not want to get
involved you can ask
the Judge to order
the person to appear
at your trial. This is
called a subpoena.
Right to Cross Examine Witnesses
We have the
Constitutional right to
confront witnesses
against us. This is
done through crossexamination of the
witness
Right to Remain Silent
We have the right to
remain silent at the
trial. It is not our duty
to prove our
innocence. The jury is
instructed that we do
not have to testify.
Right to have the State prove the
charge beyond a reasonable doubt
We are presumed
innocent by the law.
The Prosecutor must
prove us guilty
beyond a reasonable
doubt. It is not our
duty to prove
ourselves innocent.
What happens next if I plead not guilty?
Will my case be finished today?
If you plead not guilty – your case will not
be finished today. Your case will either be
scheduled for a trial or a pretrial.
What is the difference between a
trial and a pretrial?
A trial is what you think
it is. Witnesses testify,
evidence is presented
– you must be
prepared to defend
yourself that day
because that is the
day it will be
determined if you are
guilty or not guilty.
Then what is a pretrial?
A pretrial is an
informal meeting
between you – or
your attorney – with
the prosecutor.
Information is
exchanged and a
discussion is had to
see if the case can be
finished without the
need for a trial.
Can I still have a trial if I request a
pretrial?
Yes. By asking for a pretrial
you do not give up your
right to a trial. Your
attorney will obtain copies
of police reports and
witness statements and
discuss with you your
options. If no agreement is
reached you will have a
trial.
What about my right to a speedy
trial?
You have a right to
speedy trial. But in order
to have a Pretrial you
must agree to extend the
time that the law
otherwise would require
the trial to be scheduled.
You will be asked to sign
a Time Waiver
→
Time Waiver
I hereby waive the time limits
provided by law for scheduling
this case for trial or hearing - for
my convenience and/or to permit
me or my attorney time to
prepare for the case or to discuss
this matter with the prosecutor.
PLEA OF GUILTY
A plea of Guilty is a complete admission of
Guilt. When you plead guilty you are
giving up your opportunity to use your big
bundle of rights including your right to
have an attorney represent you.
What will happen if I plead Guilty?
If you plead guilty
99.9% of the time
you will be found
guilty. The only
decision left for the
Judge will be to
impose a penalty.
How do I know the possible
penalty?
Depending on the type of
crime the penalty could
be a fine, community
service, probation,
restitution, license
suspension, vehicle
immobilization or
forfeiture, jail or a
combination of any of
these. The Judge will tell
you the possible penalty
before you enter your
plea. If you do not know
– it is O.K. to ask the
Judge
Penalties for most misdemeanor crimes
Degree
Fine
Jail
License
Suspension
Community
Service
1st Degree
$0-1,000.00
0-180 days
Depends on
the crime
0-250 hours
2nd Degree
$0-750.00
0-90 days
Depends on
the crime
0-250 hours
3rd Degree
$0-500.00
0-60 days
Depends on
the crime
0-150 hours
4th Degree
$0-250.00
0-30 days
Depends on
the crime
0-150 hours
Minor
Misdemeanor
$0-150.00
NONE
Depends on
crime
NONE
Unclassified
$0-1,000.00
NONE
Depends on
crime
0-500 hours
Misdemeanor - OVI Penalties
No. and Type of
Offense
Jail
Fine
License Suspension
Vehicle Sanction
1st in 6 years
3 days jail or DIP up
to 6 months jail
$375.00 $1,075.00
6 months – 3 years
No privileges for 15 days
None
1st in 6 years and
either high tier
alcohol or refusal
w/ prior offense in
20 years
6 days jail or DIP and
3 days jail up to 6
months jail
$375.00 $1,075.00
6 months – 3 years
Must have restricted
plates
No privileges for 15 days
None
2nd in 6 years
10 days jail up to 6
months jail
$525.00 $1,625.00
1 year – 5 years
No privileges for 45 days
Restricted Plates and
Ignition Interlock required
Vehicle immobilization
and plate impoundment
for 90 days
2nd in 6 years and
either high tier
alcohol or refusal
w/ prior offense in
20 years
20 days jail up to 6
months jail
$525.00 $1,625.00
1 year – 5 years
No privileges for 45 days
Restricted Plates and
Ignition Interlock required
Vehicle immobilization
and plate impoundment
for 90 days
3rd in 6 years
30 days jail up to one
year
$850.00 $2,750.00
2 years – 10 years
No privileges for 180 days
Restricted Plates and
Ignition Interlock required
Vehicle forfeiture
3rd in 6 years and
either high tier
alcohol or refusal
w/ prior offense in
20 years
60 days jail up to one
year
$850.00 $2,750.00
2 years – 10 years
No privileges for 180 days
Restricted Plates and
Ignition Interlock required
Vehicle forfeiture
The No Contest Plea
No contest means you do not
contest, you do not dispute,
you do not disagree with the
information in the ticket or
complaint – for this case only.
You agree to allow the Judge
to make a decision if you are
guilty or not guilty based on
the information and facts in
the ticket or the complaint
COMPLAINT
State of Ohio No. __________
/City of Columbus/
v. COMPLAINT
__[name]__ (Rule 4)
__[address]__
Complainant being duly sworn states that C.D. [defendant]
at __[place]__, County, Ohio on or about__________,
19___, __[state the essential facts]__ in violation of
__[state the numerical designation of the applicable
statute or ordinance]__.
______________________________________________
Complainant
Sworn to and subscribed before me by
____________________ on __________, 19___.
____________________________________________
_____
Judge/Clerk/Deputy Clerk/
[or]
_________________________________________________
Notary Public,
My Commission expires __________, 19___
The No Contest Plea cannot be used against you in another civil or
criminal proceeding
For example, if you were involved
in an automobile collision and
want to finish this case (the
charge in the ticket or
complaint) but you or your
insurance company wants to
“defend” or “fight” the civil
case (the case where a person
is seeking money from you or
your insurance company or
wants to sue you) the no
contest plea cannot be used
against you in that case – but
a Guilty plea could be used
against you in the other case.
You should plea No
Contest if you want
to finish this case
but want to protect
your right to
defend yourself in
the other case
Do I have to pay my fine and costs today? Should I
plead not guilty if I cannot pay my fine and costs?
If you cannot pay
your fine and costs
today you will be
given time to pay. If
you need more than
60 days to pay your
fine and costs you
may be placed on a
payment plan and a
fee may be assessed
for the payment plan.
FELONY RIGHTS
If you are charged with a felony the
procedure is different than if you are
charged with only misdemeanors.
If you are charged with a felony your case
cannot be completed in the Municipal
Court unless the charge is amended or
changed to a misdemeanor by the
prosecutor with the approval of the Judge.
If you are charged with a felony your case will be
scheduled for a Preliminary Hearing
A person charged with a felony must have
a hearing within 10 days if in jail and 15
days if not in jail to determine if there is
enough evidence to continue the case as
a felony. The hearing is also called a
probable cause hearing.
What happens after the hearing?
If probable cause that a
felony was committed is
found then the case is
transferred to the felony
court – the Lorain County
Court of Common Pleas –
where the case will be
heard by the Grand Jury
to decide whether to
continue the charge or
some other charge.
If probable cause is not
found that a felony was
committed the case is
either dismissed or the
case remains at the
Municipal Court as a
misdemeanor charge and
another hearing will be
scheduled by the court.
What are my rights at the hearing?
You have the right to
remain silent – anything
you say can be used
against you – and you
should not say anything
until you have had a
chance to speak to an
attorney. If you cannot
afford an attorney the
Judge will appoint one to
represent you – if you
qualify.
The Prosecutor must prove that it is more likely
than not that a felony was committed and that you
committed a felony
The purpose of the preliminary hearing is not to
determine if you are guilty or not guilty but to
determine if there is probable cause – more
likely than not – that a felony was committed.
What about bond? Am I entitled to
bond?
In any case you are entitled to a reasonable
bond. There are two parts to the bond.
1. The Judge must determine the amount
of the bond that will satisfy the Judge
that you will appear for your court
appearances; and
2. The Judge must determine whether you
have to follow any rules as a condition of
your release or continued release.
How is the amount of the bond determined?
The law requires
that the Judge
consider factors in
determining the
amount of the
bond. The factors
include →
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
The nature and circumstances of the
crime
The weight of the evidence
The confirmation of the identity of the
accused
Family ties, employment, financial
resources, character, mental condition,
length of residence, record of convictions,
record of appearances at court
proceedings
Whether the accused is on probation or
parole or another community control
sanction or under a court protection order
What authority does the Judge have to give me
rules to follow if I have not been convicted of
anything yet? Am I not presumed innocent ?
In 1997 the Ohio
Constitution was changed
so that in the State of
Ohio we no longer have
just “appearance bonds.”
The Ohio Supreme Court
adopted a rule on July 1,
1998. The rule provides
that the Judge must
consider the factors for
setting both the amount
of bond and any
conditions of the bond.
You are still presumed
innocent but the
Judge may give you
rules to follow as a
condition of bond if
the Judge determines
the conditions are
necessary to ensure
appearance or public
safety.
What are the rules [conditions] that the
Judge can order ?
Criminal
Rule 46(B)
lists the
possible
rules.
They
include →
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Placing the person in the custody of another
person or organization;
Placing restrictions on travel, association or
place of residence;
Placing the person under house arrest or
electronic monitoring;
Ordering the person to have no contact with
the alleged victim or other persons including
potential witnesses;
Requiring a person to attend alcohol
treatment;
Any other constitutional condition reasonable
necessary to ensure appearance or public
safety
What happens if the Judge gives me rules
[conditions] and I don’t follow them?
If you fail to appear for
court or don’t follow the
rules a warrant may be
issued for your arrest
and/or your bond
changed or revoked
depending on the
violation.
WARRANT
Questions?
If you have any other
questions about your
rights – it’s O.K. to
ask the Judge or a
staff member. It is
important that you
understand your
rights before you
make your plea
The end
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