When you’re arrested and charged with a crime for the first time, it is critical to properly deal with the situation as soon as possible. Whether that means fighting to clear your name, reducing the potential penalties, or otherwise limiting the negative impact on your life, it will usually come down to securing effective legal representation.
Aside from contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney, here is more about what you can expect and what steps to take after a first-time arrest in Cincinnati.
Many people quickly assume that first-time offenders are not at too high a risk for harsh penalties. But your prior record doesn’t matter so much as the type of crime.
Although being a first-time offender could positively impact your case, the consequences you face will be dependent on the charges brought forward by the prosecutor.
Here are the first–time penalties for various levels of misdemeanor and felony charges:
- Minor misdemeanor – A fine of up to $150
- Fourth-degree misdemeanor – A fine of up to $250 and as much as 30 days in jail
- Third-degree misdemeanor – A fine of up to $500 and as much as 60 days in jail
- Second-degree misdemeanor – A fine of up to $750 and as much as 90 days in jail
- First-degree misdemeanor – A fine of up to $1000 and as much as 180 days in jail
- Fifth-degree felony – A fine of up to $2500 and as much as 12 months in prison
- Fourth-degree felony – A fine of up to $5000 and as much as 18 months in prison
- Third-degree felony – A fine of up to $10,000 and as much as five years in prison
- Second-degree felony – A fine of up to $15,000 and as much as eight years in prison
- First-degree felony – A fine of up to $20,000 and as much as 11 years in prison
- Unclassified felony – Fines of up to $25,000 and as much as life in prison
Steps to Take After Your Arrest
How you handle your first arrest could dramatically affect the outcome. If you are unsure how to best cope after your arrest, here is what to do:
- Remain calm
- As soon as possible, ask for an attorney
- Do not answer any of law enforcement’s questions
- Do not be disrespectful to the police officer arresting you
- Under no circumstances should you attempt to flee or resist arrest
- As soon as you have the opportunity, write down everything you can about your arrest, even if it seems minor
After you have retained a criminal offense attorney, you can expect to have a hearing where you will be arraigned. This is where you will have the opportunity to enter your plea. This is also where the judge may determine bail.
From there, work with your attorney to understand the extent of the charges and explore what defensive options may best suit your case.
Resources for First-Time Criminal Charges
- The Arrest & Bail Process
- Reasons You Shouldn’t Accept a Misdemeanor Conviction
- Life in Cincinnati with Felony Record
- Drug Charges after a Traffic Stop
- Jail Time for a DUI
- Dealing with False Accusations
- Plea Bargains in Ohio
- Getting an OVI Dismissed in Cincinnati
Legal Options for First-Time Offenders in Ohio?
The Ohio court system tends to look fairly upon people who have no previous history of criminal connections. In working with the prosecuting attorney, there may be specific legal options available to you that allow you to avoid jail or prison, such as:
- Drug or alcohol treatment programs
- Community service
- Electronic monitoring
- Home confinement
First-time offenders may also be eligible to complete a diversion program. Under Ohio law, the following requirements apply to participate in a diversion program:
- You must be willing to submit to random drug testing
- You may be required to pay a fee for supervision services
- You may be required to take educational classes
- You may be prohibited from committing another crime
- You may be ordered to pay restitution to any victims in your case
If you meet the criteria, two different diversion programs may be available depending on the details of your case.
Ohio Pre-trial Diversion Programs
Here, first-time offenders who may have been accused of non-violent charges may be able to avoid a conviction by completing the program.
The offender will need to plead guilty to the charges, then complete the terms of the pretrial diversion program (i.e., meet conditions including probation, evaluations, diversion classes, etc.) during the time frame determined by the court in exchange for eventually getting the case dismissed.
These programs are commonly used for first-time charges for theft, other white-collar crimes, and underage offenses. However, pretrial diversion programs are not available to individuals charged with drug crimes in Ohio.
Ohio Intervention in Lieu of Conviction Programs
Alternatively, intervention in lieu of conviction diversion programs allows individuals to complete a treatment program and up to three years of community supervision instead of being found guilty of a crime.
Get Help From a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer
Despite being a first-time offender, a conviction will have harsh consequences and a tremendous impact on your life unless you take steps right away. The first is making sure you have an experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer working for your interests.
No case is hopeless, and there are options to explore, up to and including getting the charges reduced, dismissed, or proving your innocence. Make sure you.
Contact Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP to schedule a free and confidential consultation. We’ll discuss how you came to be arrested, your options for a first offense, and how we can help.