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Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Infractions in Ohio
In Ohio State, criminal charges can be divided into three categories based on the nature and gravity of an offense. The categories are felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions, according to the Ohio Department of Justice.
Section 29 of the Ohio Revised Penal Codes gives a detailed explanation of crime classification in the state.
Felony charges are the most serious charges. They are the result of being sued for a severe crime. Being found guilty of a felony accusation is punishable by imprisonment of six or more months.
Misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felonies. Most times, the severity of the crime helps decide if it is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, an assault may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the alleged assault’s seriousness.
Infractions are less serious than misdemeanors. They do not carry any jail time. Also, the punishment for an infraction conviction is only financial. Summarily, Ohio crimes are tried on the basis of these categories.
What is a felony in Ohio?
In Ohio, there are two broad classifications of a felony crime. These are; violent and non-violent felony.
A violent offense is when a physical object is used to threaten or inflict pain on a person. Examples of violent felonies include murder, domestic violence, sexual assault, and armed robbery.
A non-violent felony does not involve the use of a physical object. Examples of non-violent felonies include illegal possession of a weapon.
Any person who is convicted of a felony is called a felon.
In Ohio, there are five categories of felony offenses. These are
- First-degree felony,
- Second-degree felony,
- Third-degree felony,
- Fourth-degree felony, and
- Fifth-degree felony.
First-degree felonies are considered the most serious of the five and attract the most severe legal penalties. The least serious felony crimes are classified as fifth-degree felonies.
In Ohio, some felony offenses are unclassified. Unclassified felonies are considered the most severe of all.
An individual convicted of an Ohio felony crime faces a prison sentence. Sentencing differs depending on the degree of the felony.
Unless otherwise stated in the state’s criminal law, each degree of a felony has its specified sentence duration.
What are some examples of felonies in Ohio?
Crimes considered as felony differ in each state in the United States of America, and Ohio is no exception.
Examples of felonies in Ohio and their classes include:
- Unclassified felonies
- Aggravated murder.
Persons charged with an unclassified felony will serve penalties ranging from 15 years incarceration to life (in the case of murder) and death sentence (in the case of aggravated murder).
- First-degree felonies
- Rape, and
Persons charged with a first-degree felony will serve penalties ranging from three to eleven years imprisonment. Additional penalties include paying a fine of up to 20,000 USD.
- Second-degree felonies
- The illegal invention of explosives, and
- Criminal assault.
Persons charged with a second-degree felony could face from two to eight years in state prison and could be fined up to 10,000 USD.
- Third-degree felonies
- Eluding a crime scene, and
Persons charged with a third-degree felony could serve penalties ranging from a fine of up to 10,000 USD to a potential nine months to five years in prison.
- Fourth-degree felonies
- Sexual conduct or misconduct with a minor (an individual less than 18 years of age), and
- Grand theft of automobiles.
Culprits may pay a fine of up to 5000 USD and could serve six to eighteen months in jail.
- Fifth-degree felonies
- Receiving stolen property from another individual, and
- Breaking and entering.
Culprits may be sentenced to between six and twelve months in prison and may be fined up to 2500 USD.
Detailed information on the classes of felony crimes and their penalties are in section 2924.14 of the state’s criminal law.
Individuals convicted of a felony will be required to spend a term in state prison.
Can an Individual get a Felony removed from a court record in Ohio?
Yes, but persons need to meet certain legal conditions to be eligible for an expungement.
Generally, in Ohio, most first-time, non-violent offenses are the easiest to remove from a person’s criminal record through a legal process called expungement.
Who is eligible for an expungement?
Individuals qualify for expungement if they meet certain prerequisites, as described in Section 2953.32 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Some of these prerequisites include:
- If an individual wants to expunge a conviction that is not backed by the law.
- If an individual was not mandated to serve jail time as a result of the conviction.
- If an individual served jail time but was eligible for community service.
- If an individual has been convicted of one or a combination of the following: one misdemeanor, one felony, two misdemeanors, and one misdemeanor plus one felony. (The Ohio Revised Code considers two or three convictions stemming from the same case as one conviction as stated in section 2953.32). This condition was revised in 2019.
- If an individual has no pending charges or convictions against him.
- If the statutory waiting period for a conviction that an individual wants to expunge has passed, then he can be eligible for expungement.
How to apply for an expungement?
In kickstarting a request for expungement, individuals would need to make an application to the court where they were convicted of the crime.
For felony offenses, individuals are to apply to the Court of Common Pleas located in the county where they were convicted of a crime.
The procedures for applying for expungement differ with each court in Ohio. Each court has its own rules, and individuals must adhere to them for their request to be granted.
Is Expungement the Same as Sealing Court Records in Ohio?
In the state of Ohio, expungement is the same as sealing a court record. The process of expungement is backed up by Section 2953 of the Ohio Revised Code. This section of the Ohio Revised Code states that individuals can clear all kinds of information and references to previous criminal convictions and seal their court files.
Expungement clears individuals of all previous convictions.
Individuals in Ohio can file for an expungement to seal convictions and non-convictions in their criminal records. They can also seal records of police arrests.
How Long Does a Felony Stay on an Individual’s Record in Ohio?
In Ohio, under normal circumstances, a felony stays on an individual’s criminal record for life. However, a felony charge can be removed from an individual’s records via expungement provided the person meets certain criteria as provided by the state’s criminal law.
Under Ohio criminal law, an individual can only begin the process of expungement after a statutory waiting period of three years has passed for a single felony crime. The statutory waiting period begins when an individual has served a sentence for a convicted crime.
For example, if an individual is sentenced to three years of probation, the expungement can only begin after the three years of sentencing has been completed.
The waiting period for a combination of two convictions that are acknowledged as felonies by the court is four years. The waiting period for a combination of three to five felony convictions is five years.
The Ohio Revised Code was reviewed in 2019. The amended code allows people with up to five felony convictions to seal their court records.
Individuals with first, second, and third-degree felonies disqualify for expungement.
Individuals with six felony convictions are not eligible for expungement.
What is a Misdemeanor in Ohio?
In Ohio, a misdemeanor is classified as an offense that is a minor criminal offense and does not incur more than one year in jail as its sentence (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2929.24, 2929.28)
Not all misdemeanor charges incur jail terms, although most misdemeanor charges usually attract jail time.
In Ohio, misdemeanor charges are classified as lesser offenses than felony charges.
The state classifies misdemeanor crimes under five categories;
- First-degree misdemeanor
- Second-degree misdemeanor
- Third-degree misdemeanor
- Fourth-degree misdemeanor
- Minor misdemeanor
Minor misdemeanor charges do not incur jail sentencing but may attract a legal fine of up to 150 USD.
First-degree misdemeanor charges may incur up to 180 days jail penalty, up to 1000 USD fine, or both.
Second-degree misdemeanor charges attract up to 90 days jail penalty, a fine of up to 750 USD, or both.
Third-degree misdemeanor charges attract up to 60 days jail punishment, a fine of up to 500 USD, or both.
Fourth-degree misdemeanor charges are punishable by spending up to 30 days in jail, a fine of 250 USD at most, or both.
Unlike felonies, if convicted of a misdemeanor, culprits may spend time in a local prison as opposed to state prison.
What are some Examples of Misdemeanor Crimes?
- First Degree Misdemeanors:
- Petty theft,
- The illegal possession of a gun,
- The unauthorized use of a vehicle, and
- Driving under the influence.
- Second Degree Misdemeanors:
- Abusing a police officer, and
- The illegal production or sale of drug paraphernalia.
- Third Degree Misdemeanors
- Making drawings or writings on public properties such as public buildings, schools, and transport systems
- Cultivating marijuana between 100 and 200 grams without a legal permit, and
- Possessing an expired handgun license.
- Fourth Degree Misdemeanor
- The sale or donation of contaminated blood.
Detailed information about misdemeanors and their penalties are in section 2929.24 of the state’s criminal law.
Can an Individual Get a Misdemeanor Removed from a Record in Ohio?
Ohio criminal laws permit the expungement of most misdemeanor criminal records. It is worthy to note that the law exempts some misdemeanor criminal convictions from expungement. Examples of such offenses are first-degree misdemeanor crimes whereby a minor is the crime victim.
Misdemeanor convictions of each individual in Ohio are documented in public records, making them accessible to the public.
If misdemeanor charges are not expunged, they may dent the chances of maximizing future opportunities in their careers. They may also affect an individual’s freedom.
The court has the right to grant or deny an expungement request. Under Ohio law, only eligible offenders will have their offenses expunged.
The waiting period before applying for expungement of a misdemeanor conviction is usually one year.
When applying for expungement, applicants should tailor their requests to the Municipal or County Court, where they were convicted of the crime.
Can an OVI Be Expunged in Ohio?
No, Operating a Vehicle under the Influence (OVI) cannot be expunged from an individual’s criminal record in Ohio. However, an OVI conviction will not prevent the expungement of other non-violent convictions in the long run.
An OVI can be a “not-so-good” offense on an individual’s permanent criminal record and can be harmful to one’s reputation.
OVI is not classified as a felony until an individual is charged for the fourth time in Ohio.
If a person is convicted of an OVI offense in Ohio, it will remain on his criminal record for the rest of his life. The public can access this record.
Under Ohio law, individuals (aged 21 and above) are considered chargeable for an OVI offense if they have a breath alcohol level that exceeds the legal limit of 0.08.
In Ohio, police officers can charge drivers with OVI even if their breath alcohol level is below 0.08 if they observe that they are intoxicated.
For people under the age of 21, the breath alcohol limit is 0.
What constitutes an Infraction in Ohio?
An infraction is the least severe of the three categories of crime in Ohio. These violations are also known as minor misdemeanors in the state. An individual convicted of an infraction offense will not serve jail time. The penalty for an infraction conviction only involves payment of a fine.
What are some examples of Infractions in Ohio?
Examples of infractions include:
- Driving above speed limits,
- Disobeying traffic laws,
- Littering the floor,
- Refusing an arrest,
- Unruly conduct, and
- Public gambling.
Most traffic crimes are categorized as infractions in Ohio. There are several traffic crimes in the state of Ohio, as contained in the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Can Infractions be Expunged from an Ohio Criminal Court Record?
Infractions such as traffic offenses and overspending are minor offenses. Therefore, they are not considered eligible for expungement.
An individual does not need to undergo a court trial to be convicted of an infraction.