Practice Areas

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Cincinnati, OH

No one should face criminal charges alone. At LHA, you don't have to. Free Consults 24/7.

Luftman, Heck & Associates understands the Ohio criminal system and offers proven experience to help navigate it. We believe knowledge is power and provide the resources and skills you need to resolve your case, get charges dismissed, or prove your innocence. The Cincinnati criminal defense team at LHA is ready to help.

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Charged in Cincinnati? Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help

No one expects to be arrested or accused of a crime, but it happens all the same.

The criminal justice system is scary, and the consequences can change your life. Fortunately, with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you stand a much stronger chance of a favorable outcome.

At Luftman, Heck & Associates, our client-focused advocacy ensures you receive the personalized support we’d extend to our families. Local Cincinnati attorneys Brad Groene and Julia Crumes embody this commitment to legal excellence, earning Super Lawyers and The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 accolades. With a history of victories for the accused across Ohio, our insight into Cincinnati’s legal system allows for precise, effective case management and skilled legal representation.

No Matter the Charges, LHA Defense Attorneys Will

  • Assess your case for free & evaluate the evidence.
  • Negotiate for you – painting you in the best possible light
  • Guide you so you can make informed decisions.
  • Advise if a plea is the best outcome.
  • Pursue a possible dismissal, reduction, or acquittal.
  • Minimize any negative impact & potentially expunge your record.

With a legacy built on dedication, integrity, and success across Hamilton County and beyond, the accomplished and award-winning Cincinnati criminal lawyers at LHA are committed to achieving the best possible resolution if you’ve been charged with a crime.

Contact LHA Cincinnati for a Free Case Evaluation

If you or a loved one were arrested in the greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky, contact the Cincinnati criminal defense attorneys with LHA today for a free initial consultation.

(513) 338-1890

“Everyone I spoke with at Luftman, Heck & Associates was friendly, candid, and professional. Brad and his team exceeded every expectation. My case was handled quickly, and I could not have asked for a better result.” More Reviews

Our Ohio Criminal Defense Practice Areas

Luftman, Heck & Associates assists people facing criminal charges in Ohio and allegations related to:

Our attorneys provide crucial criminal defense representation, advocating on your behalf to protect your fundamental legal rights and ensure a fair result. We will meticulously analyze the case details, develop the best defense strategies available, negotiate for reduced charges or sentences, and fight for you in court if necessary.

At LHA, we guide clients through the complexities of the legal system, aiming for the best possible outcome, whether that’s a dismissal, acquittal, or minimized legal repercussions, thus safeguarding your record, future, and the principles of justice for the accused.

With our record of success in and out of court, our highly experienced criminal lawyers in Cincinnati have likely helped someone in a similar situation. Call (513) 338-1890 or submit a request online to schedule a free initial consultation.

LHA is available 24/7 and offers consultations over the phone, in person, and via video conference.

Further Reading: Criminal Defense Representation

The Ohio Criminal Justice System: An Overview

From the moment you’re arrested, whether it is in Downtown Cincinnati, Queensgate, Mount Auburn, or neighboring Newport or Covington, KY, you’ll be thrust into a legal process that’s foreign to most. Strict criminal procedures and rules govern the Ohio criminal justice system. Understanding these procedures is vital, as each stage—from arraignment to potential sentencing—carries significant implications for the accused.

Throughout Ohio’s criminal process, your lawyer is an indispensable ally who clarifies your options, protects your rights, and develops strategies to achieve the most favorable outcome. Whether negotiating a plea, challenging weak evidence, or fighting at trial, your attorney ensures your voice is heard.

Understanding The Ohio Criminal Process

The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) is the codified law of Ohio. The ORC covers a wide range of legal topics, including but not limited to criminal law, civil procedures, property, family law, and business regulations. Violations of the ORC are handled in Ohio’s state court system, whereas violations of federal law are processed through the federal court system.

While every case is different, no case is hopeless. You always have rights and options, but the decisions made early on will be crucial. From the moment you are arrested in Ohio, through any questioning negotiations, and until your case is resolved, LHA will be there to help.

The first step is to understand what to expect at each stage of the Ohio criminal justice process:

Arrest, Questioning, & Booking

If the police believe there is sufficient evidence to suggest that you committed a crime, this is called “probable cause,” and law enforcement will use this standard to place you under arrest. Once in police custody, you will be entered into the system and typically questioned. This is where the right to speak with an attorney is imperative.

Read How to Locate Someone Who Was Arrested in Cincinnati

Arraignment & Bail Hearings

After criminal charges are filed, you will be arraigned. During this initial court appearance, a judge will read the criminal charges against you, and if enough evidence exists, you will be given a chance to enter a plea, and the issue of bail/bond will be addressed.

Essentially, bail secures your release pending trial, sometimes on the condition that a sum of money is offered to guarantee your appearance. The arraignment procedure may seem straightforward, but without legal guidance, you may spend excessive time in custody, be issued an unreasonable bail amount, or enter an unfavorable plea.

The Discovery Phase

After your arraignment, the prosecution and defense will start building their respective cases. This involves collecting and sharing evidence, such as physical materials, witness statements, police reports, and relevant laboratory reports.

This is an integral part of the process, and an experienced defense lawyer will be vital. A skilled criminal attorney will know the local rules and procedures, where to find the weaknesses, and how to attack the case against you.

Pre-Trial Motions & Hearings

Once all the available evidence is compiled and reviewed, trial preparation begins. Whether you must appear in Hamilton County municipal court or the Court of Common Pleas, this often involves raising procedural questions and issues of law.

Many criminal cases are won and lost here because this is how the court determines which evidence and arguments will be heard. For example, if your defense attorney argues that the police violated your rights before finding a piece of evidence, the judge could exclude the item, and your case may be significantly strengthened.

Negotiation & Plea Agreements

Most criminal cases are resolved before trial since many individuals are given a chance to settle the matter without going to court. During this phase, prosecutors and defense attorneys discuss alternatives, including diversion programs, possible dismissal, reduced or amended charges, or other sentencing options. It is important to be realistic about your case, and by working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you can gain insight and practical advice.

Criminal Trials

Your criminal case will be scheduled for trial if a plea agreement isn’t reached. Ohio criminal trials follow a certain procedure, where the prosecutor presents evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes opening statements, offering evidence, and jury deliberation.

Trials end with a verdict as to your guilt or innocence. Your defense attorney will be allowed to rebut the prosecutor’s claims and make arguments on your behalf. This involves challenging witness testimony, questioning the accuracy of the evidence, or presenting alternate theories.

Criminal Sentencing

If a judge or jury returns a ‘not guilty’ verdict, your case will effectively be over. Conversely, if the verdict is ‘guilty,’ your sentence will be handed down based on several factors outlined in Ohio’s sentencing guidelines.

These include the particulars of the crime, any aggravating elements, the presence of any mitigating factors, and statements from various parties involved. However, an experienced defense attorney will advocate for you to receive a favorable sentence. This can mean reduced penalties, like less time in custody, diminished fines, or other options like probation, treatment, and home detention.

Woman writing notes on fingerprint paperwork with other case evidence on the table

Criminal Investigations in Cincinnati, Ohio

Criminal investigations serve a crucial role in Ohio’s justice system. Pre-arrest investigations focus on gathering evidence to confirm a crime occurred, identifying suspects, and facilitating lawful arrests and prosecutions.

These investigations, whether conducted by the Cincinnati Police Department and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department or at the federal level with agencies like the FBI or DEA, follow stringent protocols to ensure evidence integrity and uphold justice.

From the inception of an investigation—often unbeknownst to the potential suspect—law enforcement will meticulously compile evidence, which may lead to questioning or arrest. Remember, many people inadvertently become part of criminal investigations based on associations or circumstantial evidence, and this underscores the importance of legal representation from the moment you sense you might be involved.

Read the Signs You’re Under Investigation in Ohio

Know & Assert Your Rights

In any criminal investigation, knowing your rights and proceeding with caution is vital when dealing with law enforcement. Even seemingly cooperative interactions can be detrimental if done without legal counsel. Avoid discussing your case publicly, especially on social media, and only speak about your case with your attorney.

Remember, you have the right to legal representation during questioning—a critical protection since police and prosecutors may try to use your own words against you or manipulate you into providing incriminating information.

Your Right to Remain Silent

You do not have to speak to law enforcement or answer questions without a lawyer present.

Your Right to Legal Representation

You can have an attorney present during questioning and throughout the legal process.

You Have a Right to a Public Defender

If you cannot afford an attorney, you are entitled to a court-appointed defender.

Your Right Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

Under the 4th Amendment, law enforcement must have a warrant or probable cause to search your property. The resulting evidence could be thrown out if an illegal search is conducted.

You Have the Right to Know the Charges Against You

You must be informed of the nature of the accusations you face.

Your Right to a Speedy and Public Trial

You can’t be held for an unreasonable time before trial.

The Right to an Impartial Jury

You have the right to be tried by a jury of your peers that hasn’t been swayed against you.

Your Right to Confront Witnesses

You can question all witnesses who testify against you in court.

Your Right Against Self-Incriminate

Under the 5th Amendment, you can refuse to testify against yourself in criminal proceedings.

Your Right to be Presumed Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and you are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A skilled attorney can help you navigate the complexities of a criminal probe, counteract investigative overreach, and strategize an effective defense, all while ensuring you’re informed and your rights respected.

It can be tempting to try and handle questioning yourself, but a defense lawyer provides a critical buffer against misunderstanding becoming charges, challenging hastily drawn assumptions, and ensuring that any charges filed against you are justified and lawful.

Hamilton County Criminal Courts

Our lawyers have achieved countless not-guilty verdicts, favorable pleas, and charge dismissals throughout the Central and Southern Ohio court system, extending into Northern Kentucky.

While the courts in the region handle different types of cases and are governed by specific procedures, LHA can provide the local insight it takes to move your case through effectively.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court

  • Jurisdiction: Felony criminal charges, including those bound over after preliminary hearings or where the right to a hearing is waived.
  • Location: 1000 Main Street, Room 410, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
  • Examples: Drug trafficking, aggravated assault, theft over a certain amount.
  • Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Website

Hamilton County Municipal Court

  • Jurisdiction: Misdemeanor cases, traffic violations, appeals from Mayor’s Court decisions, and preliminary hearings for felony charges.
  • Location: 1000 Main Street, Room 205, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
  • Examples: DUI, petty theft, disorderly conduct, traffic violations.
  • Hamilton County Municipal Court Website

Hamilton County Juvenile Court

  • Jurisdiction: Delinquency, traffic charges, and criminal behavior involving individuals under 18, except for cases where they are charged as adults.
  • Location: 264 William Howard Taft Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45219
  • Examples: Shoplifting by a minor, truancy, vandalism.
  • Hamilton County Juvenile Court Website

Cincinnati Mayor’s Courts

  • Jurisdiction: Violations of local ordinances, typically heard by a magistrate appointed by the mayor.
  • Locations: Vary depending on the municipality (e.g., Blue Ash, Milford City, etc.)
  • Examples: Noise violations, parking violations, and minor alcohol offenses (bench trials only).

Cincinnati Mayor’s Courts

More About Ohio & Kentucky Courts

Further Reading: Ohio’s Criminal System

Cincinatti, Ohio Criminal Penalties

Ohio criminal charges are divided into two groups based on their severity and possible punishments.

Ohio Misdemeanors

In Ohio, a misdemeanor is a less serious criminal offense than a felony. It is generally punishable by fines, local jail time, or other penalties such as probation, community service, or restitution. Misdemeanors in Ohio are categorized into five classes based on the severity of the offense:

  • First-degree misdemeanors – The Most severe misdemeanor class, up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Examples: Domestic violence, assault, and a first offense OVI.
  • Second-degree misdemeanors – Up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $750. Examples: vandalism and shoplifting.
  • Third-degree misdemeanors – Up to 60 days of jail time and a $500 fine. Examples: negligent assault and sexual imposition.
  • Fourth-degree misdemeanors – Up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Examples: Consuming alcohol while in a motor vehicle & public indecency.
  • Minor Misdemeanors – The least severe misdemeanor with some fines but no jail time. Examples: Some traffic violations and disorderly conduct.

It’s important to note that even though misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, they can still have significant consequences, such as impacting job opportunities, professional licensing, or immigration status. Legal representation is often recommended, even for misdemeanor charges.

Read 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Accept a Misdemeanor Conviction

Ohio Felony Charges

Felonies in Ohio are crimes that are considered more serious than misdemeanors and typically carry more severe punishments. Felonies are divided into categories based on severity:

  • Unclassified Felonies– The highest-level crimes you can be charged with, punishments are between 15 years and life in prison. Examples include Murder and aggravated murder.
  • First-Degree Felonies – Between three and 11 years in prison and fines up to $20,000. Examples: Voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, rape, and drug trafficking.
  • Second-Degree Felonies – Between two and eight years in prison and $15,000 in fines. Examples: Various violent crimes, some sex offenses, and drug offenses.
  • Third-Degree Felonies – Between nine months and 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Examples: Certain drug charges and property crimes.
  • Fourth-Degree Felonies – Between six and 18 months in prison and $5,0000. Examples: unlawful sexual misconduct with a minor and grand theft auto.
  • Fifth-Degree Felonies – Between six and 12 months in prison and $2,500 in fines. Examples: Drug possession and breaking and entering.

    Conviction of a felony not only includes potential incarceration but also long-term legal and social consequences, such as an inability to hold public office, serve on a jury, and possess firearms. It can also affect employment, housing, and educational opportunities.
    Read Life in Cincinnati with a Felony Conviction

    Man in orange jumpsuit facing judge in courtroom during criminal trial

    The Negative Impact of a Criminal Conviction

    A criminal conviction in Ohio carries collateral consequences that permeate every aspect of your life, often long after any sentence is served. Beyond the immediate penalties of incarceration and fines, a conviction can result in the following:

    • Court Costs & Restitution: Covering the costs of legal proceedings and compensating victims.
    • Probation or Parole Restrictions: Living under supervised conditions, adhering to strict rules and limitations.
    • Mandatory Treatment Programs: Completing substance abuse or behavioral treatment at personal expense.
    • License Suspension: Losing driving privileges, which can impact mobility and employment.
    • Employment Challenges: Difficulty securing a job or maintaining current employment due to a criminal record.
    • Professional Licensing Barriers: Obstacles to obtaining or retaining necessary professional licenses.
    • Sex Offender Registration: Lifetime registration requirement with significant personal and social implications.
    • Immigration Consequences: Risk of deportation, visa denial, or other immigration status issues.
    • Permanent Criminal Record: A criminal conviction that can hinder future opportunities and relationships.
    • Social Stigma: Facing judgment and bias from society, which can affect personal relationships and community standing.
    • Housing Difficulties: Trouble finding or keeping housing due to background checks by landlords.
    • Insurance Rate Increases: Higher premiums for auto and other forms of insurance.
    • Ignition Interlock Device: Requirement to install and maintain an interlock device in vehicles.
    • Educational Limitations: Restricted access to educational programs and financial aid.
    • Security Clearance Issues: Inability to obtain or maintain security clearances required for specific occupations.

    Further Reading: Criminal Penalties

    Defending Against Criminal Charges in Cincinnati

    In Cincinnati, defending against criminal charges is not just about challenging the accusation in court; it’s about safeguarding your future. That can mead getting your case dismissed or reduced to a more manageable charge.

    Viable Criminal Defense Strategies

    The best criminal defense strategies require a deep understanding of Ohio laws, a keen ability to navigate the nuances of the local courts, and the skill to exploit all available legal avenues and weaknesses in the case against you.


    This strategy is simple enough. It argues that you (the defendant) did not commit the crime. This may involve presenting alibi witnesses, challenging evidence presented by the prosecution, or highlighting inconsistencies in their case.

    Lack of Mental Capacity

    This defense suggests you (the defendant) were unable to understand the nature of your actions or form the necessary intent to commit the crime due to mental illness or intoxication.


    This defense argues that the accused used reasonable force to protect themselves or others from imminent harm. The lawfulness of self-defense varies depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances.


    This defense claim is rarer than TV or movies may lead you to believe. However, it refers to situations where law enforcement induced a defendant to commit a crime they wouldn’t have otherwise committed.

    Fourth Amendment Violations

    This defense alleges that evidence used against you was obtained through an illegal search and seizure. If the court finds this true, the evidence may be excluded.

    Sixth Amendment Violations

    This defense claims that the defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial was violated through denial of legal counsel or inadequate representation.

    Criminal Procedural Errors

    This argues that mistakes were made during the investigation or afterward that prejudiced your case. These might include violations of Miranda rights, improper jury selection, or errors in jury instructions.

    Statute of Limitations

    This defense argues that the case against you has exceeded the legal timeframe required to bring charges. Each crime has a specific statute of limitations, and exceeding this time limit can lead to the dismissal of charges.

    Alibi Defense

    This strategy establishes that you were physically incapable of committing the crime due to being in a different location when it occurred. This can be proven through witness testimonies, documented evidence like travel records, or security footage.

    Mistake of Fact Defense

    This defense argues that you mistakenly believed your actions were legal or were unaware of the essential elements of the crime, such as whether property was stolen before you sold it to another party.

    Insufficient Evidence

    This challenges the strength of the prosecution’s case by highlighting the lack of compelling or credible evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    It’s important to remember that the best approach to a criminal case will depend on the situation’s specific facts and legal landscape. It’s crucial to consult with a qualified defense attorney who can assess your case and advise you on the best course of action.

    Call (513) 338-1890 or submit a request online to schedule a free initial consultation with LHA.

    Further Reading: Defense Strategies in Criminal Law

    Attorney meeting a client and shaking their hand

    Hire the Right Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer

    As you can see, selecting the right criminal defense attorney is a critical decision that significantly influences the outcome of your case if you or a loved one is accused of a crime in or around Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s crucial to work with a capable attorney with a wealth of experience specific to your charges, a proven track record of favorable outcomes, and a client approach that centers on clear communication and dedicated advocacy.

    An experienced attorney will have a deep understanding of the law and practical insight into local court procedures and the nuances of interacting with Hamilton County prosecutors and judges. Their track record should demonstrate a history of reducing charges, securing acquittals, or obtaining positive results in cases like yours.

    Moreover, your attorney should prioritize your best interests, take the time to listen to your concerns, explain all your options, consider what a particular outcome will mean for you in the future, and craft a defense tailored to your unique situation.

    The First Step is a Free Consult

    Engaging a defense attorney typically begins with an initial consultation. This is an important first meeting where you can confidently share your case’s details, receive an initial assessment of your legal situation, and discuss potential strategies. Here, you should expect to gain a clear understanding of the attorney’s approach and how they plan to resolve your criminal case.

    Call (513) 338-1890 or submit a request online to schedule your free initial consultation. LHA is available 24/7 and offers consults over the phone, in person, and via video conference.

    Stay Informed & Work with Your Lawyer

    Upon retaining the services of a criminal defense law firm, your attorney will begin an in-depth investigation, gather evidence, and interview witnesses to build a strong defense. Throughout the process, from pre-trial negotiations to possible courtroom proceedings, your attorney should keep you informed and involved in the decision-making, ensuring that your rights are vigorously defended every step.

    We know a lot is on the line if you’re charged with a crime. We encourage you to review our successful case results and read testimonials from past clients. At LHA, our goal is not just to resolve your case but to do so in a way that minimizes the impact on your future, letting you move on after criminal charges with confidence.

    LHA is Ready to Defend You

    If you have been charged with a crime in the greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area, contact the Cincinnati criminal defense attorneys with LHA today for a free initial consultation.

    Our office is conveniently located near the Hamilton County Court Administration Building, Hamilton County Justice Center, and Hamilton County Courthouse.

    810 Sycamore Street, Floor 3
    Cincinnati OH 45202-2180

    (513) 338-1890

    Criminal Defense Resources & FAQs

    • ACLU of Ohio – The ACLU of Ohio is an affiliate of the national ACLU. Founded in 1920, the national ACLU includes more than 500,000 members in all 50 states, making it our country’s foremost advocate of individual rights.
    • Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – The OACDL is a professional organization dedicated to defending the rights of the accused and upholding the standards and proficiency of criminal defense attorneys in Ohio.
    • Hamilton County Inmate Search – Find up-to-date information regarding inmates in our facilities anytime.
    • Hamilton County Law Library – The Hamilton County Law Library provides professional, practical legal research services, relevant information, and education to the public, its subscribers, the members of the Ohio General Assembly, and officers and judges of Hamilton County and its townships and municipalities.
    • Hamilton County Legal Help Center – The Help Center provides people with education, information, and limited legal advice to access our courts pertaining to Municipal Court and Juvenile Court in Hamilton County, Ohio.
    • Arrested for the First Time in Cincinnati? Here’s What to Do – 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.
    • A Parent’s Guide to Your Child’s Criminal Charges in Ohio – Whether your child is an adult or juvenile, you may have many questions about their record, options, and where to turn.

    Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Innocent

    Yes, hiring a defense lawyer is crucial. Innocence must be proven within the framework of the legal system. While public defenders are qualified attorneys, most lack the time and resources often necessary to mount the most effective defense possible. On the other hand, an experienced private defense attorney can provide a robust defense, help reduce charges, negotiate pleas, and navigate the legal system to minimize penalties, including potential jail time.

    What Happens if I Don’t Get a Lawyer?

    Without a lawyer, you may be unable to navigate the Ohio legal system effectively, potentially resulting in more severe penalties.

    How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost?

    The cost of a criminal defense lawyer in Cincinnati can vary based on the complexity of the case, the lawyer’s experience, and the anticipated length of the proceedings. Many firms, including LHA, offer free initial consultations to discuss the facts of your case and payment structures tailored to individual circumstances and needs.

    How Long Do Criminal Cases in Cincinnati Take?

    Case timelines vary depending on the complexity, negotiations, and potential for trial. At LHA, we will keep you informed throughout the process, but resolving a criminal matter can range from a few months to years.

    How Do I Find Out if I Have a Warrant in Hamilton County?

    You can check for warrants by contacting the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts or your local police department or searching public records online.

    When Can the Police Arrest Me?

    Police can arrest you if they have a warrant or probable cause to believe you have committed a crime.

    How Are Penalties Determined if Convicted?

    Sentencing in criminal cases is based on state guidelines, the nature of the crime, your criminal history, and judicial discretion.

    Can My Criminal Record be Expunged or Sealed in Ohio?

    Under certain conditions, you can apply to have your criminal record sealed or expunged, which can hide it from public view, depending on the nature of the offense and your subsequent legal history.

    What Should I Do if I’m Contacted by Police Regarding a Criminal Case?

    Politely decline to discuss anything without an attorney present and contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately to protect your rights and interests.

    “The best Lawyer in Cincinnati hands down.”

    LHA is Ready to Defend You

    If you have been charged with a crime in the greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area, contact the Cincinnati criminal defense attorneys with LHA today for a free initial consultation.

    (513) 338-1890