When you’re arrested in Cincinnati, Ohio, and charged with a crime for the first time, dealing with the situation as soon as possible is critical. Whether that means fighting to clear your name, reducing the potential penalties, or otherwise limiting the negative impact on your life, it usually comes down to securing effective legal representation.
Call the Cincinnati defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates immediately at 513-338-1890 for a free, confidential case evaluation. We’ll explain the Hamilton County jail system, review your options, and guide you toward the best possible outcome.
Navigating Your First Arrest in Cincinnati, Ohio
Aside from contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney ASAP, here is what you can expect and what steps to take after a first-time arrest in Cincinnati.
Steps to Take After Your Arrest
How you handle a first-time 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
Your First Court Appearance
After you’ve retained an attorney, you can expect a court 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. You will be assigned to the appropriate Ohio or Northern Kentucky court based on the county and jurisdiction. In Cincinnati, most criminal cases will be handled in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.
Once you’ve entered a plea, it’ll be time to work with your attorney to understand the extent of the charges and explore what defensive options may best suit your case. While the precise defense strategy you and your attorney implement will be based on your unique circumstances and the facts of the case, here are some common defenses that are particularly effective for first-time charges.
You Lacked Intent
Whether you have prior convictions or you’ve been charged with a crime for the first time, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to commit the crime. If you can create reasonable doubt about your intent, you may be able to avoid a guilty verdict. This is often used in cases involving alleged fraud or where specific intent is a component of the crime. For instance, if you’re charged with burglary (which usually requires intent to commit a crime inside the burgled location), but they can prove they mistakenly entered the wrong house thinking it was their own, this could negate the intent.
Other Defense Options
- Alibi: An alibi defense is used when you can prove you were somewhere else when the crime occurred. Evidence to support this may include witnesses, surveillance footage, or time-stamped receipts.
- Self-defense: If you used force to protect yourself or others from imminent harm, you might be able to use a self-defense argument. This typically requires proving that your fear was reasonable and that the force used was appropriate.
- Entrapment: This can be used when you were induced to commit a crime by law enforcement that you would not ordinarily have been predisposed to commit.
- Duress: If you committed a crime because you were forced or coerced by someone else under threat of serious bodily harm or death, you might be able to use a duress defense.
- Insanity: The insanity defense is complex and rarely used. This defense claims that at the time of the crime, you had a mental disorder severe enough that you did not understand the nature of your actions or didn’t know they were wrong.
- Necessity: This argues that you had no choice but to commit the illegal act to prevent greater harm. It is often used in emergencies.
- Consent: If the alleged victim consented to your actions in certain cases, this can be used as a defense. This is most often seen in sex crime cases, but it is very fact specific.
- Constitutional Violations: If law enforcement violated your constitutional rights, such as conducting an unlawful search or coercing a confession, any evidence obtained might be inadmissible, potentially leading to a dismissal.
Resources for First-Time Criminal Charges
- The Arrest & Bail Process
- Reasons You Shouldn’t Accept a Misdemeanor Conviction
- 7 Ways to Beat an Assault Charge in Ohio
- Cincinnati Drug Possession Defenses That Work
- 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
Options for First-Time Offenders in Hamilton County, Ohio?
The Ohio court system tends to look fairly upon people without a 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 must 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 unavailable 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.
First-Time Penalties & Consequences
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
Get Help From a Cincinnati 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 ensuring you have an experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer working for your interests.
No case is hopeless, and there are options to explore, including getting the charges reduced, dismissed, or proving your innocence. Contact LHA 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.
LHA is available 24/7. Call 513-338-1890 for a free case evaluation.