Being accused of and charged with a crime is one of the most terrifying experiences you may have in your entire life. Being convicted of a crime is even worse.

A criminal conviction can negatively impact your life in many ways outside of the court-imposed penalties. That’s why you should always fight against such a conviction.

Innocent until proven guilty isn’t just a saying; it is the foundation of America’s criminal law system. If you face a criminal accusation or charge, you have certain constitutional rights.

Among your rights is the right to a fair trial. Unfortunately, not everyone accused of a crime gets a fair trial. A skilled criminal defense attorney will help you ensure that you do get a fair trial. 

If you face criminal charges in Akron, the single best way to retain your freedom is to hire an experienced Akon criminal defense attorney.

A criminal defense attorney in Akron, Ohio, at McCleery Law Firm, can help you protect and preserve your constitutional rights and ensure that you have a fair trial. In some cases, your criminal defense attorney in Akron will be able to avoid a trial entirely.

Criminal Penalties in Ohio

Like other states, Ohio splits criminal charges into two primary categories. The State bases these categories on the seriousness of the crime. The two primary categories are felony and misdemeanor.

Misdemeanors and felonies can have different levels, and each level carries different penalties. With a skilled criminal defense attorney in Akron, OH, on your side, you give yourself a better chance to see a reduction in the level of crime the State charges you with.

Felony Penalties

Felony charges are the more serious of the two categories. Along with fines, Ohio felony charges bring the consequence of incarceration in a state penitentiary.

Ohio splits felony charges into five levels, with level 5 being the least severe. Potential penalties include:

  • A maximum incarceration period of 6 to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500 for a 5th degree felony;
  • Up to 18 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000 for a 4th degree felony;
  • A maximum of 36 months imprisonment in most cases, with a maximum of 60 months in extreme cases, and up to a $10,000 fine for a 3rd degree felony;
  • 2 to 8 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine for a 2nd degree felony; and
  • 3 to 11 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine for a 1st degree felony.

It is important to note that these are maximum penalties, except where special provisions apply. Certain felonies may have different penalties, fines, and duration of incarceration, such as murder or sexual offenses. As such, a judge will often consider mitigating factors.

An Akron, Ohio criminal defense attorney will ask the judge to consider any relevant mitigating factors in your case to help ensure that you do not get the maximum penalty.

Misdemeanor Penalties

While misdemeanor charges are less severe than felony charges, any criminal conviction can bring serious consequences. Ohio state law splits misdemeanors into five categories.

The least severe is a minor misdemeanor, and the most severe a level 1 misdemeanor. When someone faces incarceration due to a misdemeanor, they serve time in a county or city jail. 

Minor misdemeanors do not lead to jail time, and the cap for fines is $150. Level 4 misdemeanors bring a maximum of 30 days in jail and a max $250 fine.

The ceiling of the fines and incarceration period increases from there. The maximum jail time for misdemeanors goes up to 180 days for a level 1 misdemeanor, and the fines top out at $1,000.  

As with any felony charge, the penalties noted here are the maximum. Some crimes, like DUIs, will have additional penalties like driver license suspension.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, a criminal defense attorney in Akron, OH, can fight on your behalf to note any mitigating factors. In doing so, they will advocate for the judge to reduce the sentence. A judge will only apply the maximum penalties in exceptional cases.

Mitigating Factors

There are several mitigating factors that a judge can consider when determining a sentence. 

Working closely with an experienced Akron criminal defense attorney will help ensure that no relevant mitigating factor escapes the judge’s attention. This can help you avoid the maximum penalty if convicted. Some of the mitigating factors include:

  • Remorse for the crime and/or victim;
  • Lack of prior criminal convictions;
  • Blameworthiness or culpability of the victim;
  • Physical or mental illness;
  • Difficult life circumstances beyond one’s control;
  • Commission of a crime out of necessity;
  • Lack of harm or “victimless crime”; and
  • Duress, provocation, and other factors that explain the crime.

There are other potentially mitigating factors that an Akron criminal defense attorney can point to. The most important thing to do if you stand accused of a crime is to hire a criminal defense attorney and be as transparent and open as possible with them.

The more transparent and open you are, the easier it will be for your Akron, OH criminal defense attorney to identify potential mitigating circumstances.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Advocating to reduce a sentence on the grounds of mitigating factors is far from the only way an Akron criminal defense attorney can help you. There are a number of other ways a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights.

Case Dismissal

A criminal defense attorney may persuade the courts or prosecuting attorney to drop criminal charges entirely. When this happens, it is typically during the pretrial phase of criminal proceedings. However, this is not always the case.

Dismissal may occur at trial. For example, if a witness is found to be lying or it is shown that the police used illegal tactics in their investigation of the crime, a dismissal may come at any time.

Pretrial Negotiations

Your defense attorney can help you in several ways during the pretrial phase of the criminal proceedings. In some cases, they may negotiate for the courts to reduce your bail, so you do not spend the pretrial phase under incarceration.

If you are not already in jail, your attorney could negotiate for a reduced sentence, charge, or bail with your voluntary surrender. Or in other cases, where you are in pretrial detention, your Akron criminal defense attorney can negotiate to have you released from jail before your trial. 

Not Guilty Verdict

One of the best possible outcomes is that your attorney helps you beat the charge in a trial. With a not guilty verdict, you will not have a criminal record and can avoid incarceration and the other ancillary penalties that come with a criminal conviction.

Going to trial is sometimes seen as risky, but if your criminal defense attorney has good reason to believe that the courts will not convict, it may be a good choice for you.

Conviction Reversal on Appeal

If the courts have already convicted you of a crime that you did not commit, you are not out of luck. If your attorney raises grounds for appeal in an initial trial, they can appeal the case from a lower court to a higher one to fight for your release and conviction reversal.

Unconstitutional and Illegal Investigating Tactics

Police do not always follow the law. This is particularly true when it comes to criminal investigations. Detectives sometimes use unconstitutional investigatory tactics. Sometimes they employ these tactics in initial searches; other times they occur during subsequent investigations and interviews.

Your criminal defense attorney will work to ensure that the police follow the law during their investigations. If irregularities are found and proven, your case may be dismissed entirely. 

Other times, police use tactics that are legal but unethical. This often happens during interviews of those accused of crimes. To avoid such a situation, it is best to have a criminal defense attorney on your side who is present whenever speaking with detectives.

Plea Bargaining

Criminal defense attorneys are skilled negotiators. One of the main things they negotiate is plea bargains. A plea bargain occurs when someone charged with a crime confesses to a lesser crime in exchange for the state dropping the more serious charge.

A plea bargain can help reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor in some cases. If you face severe criminal charges, a plea bargain agreement can be the best option. 

Criminal Defense Attorneys Are There to Help

These are just a few of the many ways that criminal defense attorneys help their clients. A skilled criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between jail time and no jail time or a lifelong criminal record vs. a clean criminal record.

If you are charged with a crime in Akron, hiring a criminal defense attorney is the most effective way to avoid negative life-altering consequences.

Have You Been Charged with a Crime?

If you stand charged with a crime, contact the McCleery Law Firm Akron criminal defense attorneys today. Our goal is to fight for your freedom and ensure that your constitutional rights and dignity are protected.

Consultations are free, so there is no risk in calling McCleery Law Firm and telling us your story. We can advise you of your options going forward.

Finding yourself charged with a crime is a scary situation, but you don’t have to be in it alone—contact our criminal defense attorneys in Akron, Ohio, today for a free consultation.