Ohio’s court system addresses both minor and serious offense and rule violations. As any state, Ohio has both a federal and state courts system. However, the state courts in Ohio are divided into multiple level and specific types based on the instance. If you’ve been charged with a crime, it’s important you thoroughly understand Ohio’s court system.
The type of court you’re required to attend depends on the specific matter of law that is being heard. Criminal cases are typically tried in a different court than a civil one depending on the circumstances. In some cases, a criminal case may be heard in a court outside your county if the crime’s jurisdiction is in that county.
Each of Ohio’s courts have a different set of rules and regulations, but each one allows the defendant a right to counsel. Having legal representation can significantly rise your chances of reducing or dismissing your criminal charges.
Dayton Attorney Explains Courts in Ohio
Understanding Ohio’s court system is vital when you’ve been charged with a crime. To learn more and start your defense, we recommend you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can thoroughly answer any and all your questions, collect evidence, and chart a defense plan. Find excellent legal representation by calling Joslyn Law Firm.
Our attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm have the drive and knowledge needed to fight your charges. Our managing attorney, Brian Joslyn, gas been recognized by the legal community for his stellar work as well such as receiving the Topy Lawyer by Columbus CEO magazine and being awarded as one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Ohio by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
Pick up the phone and call (937) 356-3969 to set up your first free consultation. Joslyn Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Montgomery County area including Dayton, Miamisburg, Centerville, Vandalia and Englewood.
Overview of the Courts System in Ohio
- Mayor’s Courts
- Municipal and County Courts
- The Court of Common Pleas
- Appeals Courts in Ohio
- The Ohio Supreme Court
- Diversion Courts
- Additional Resource
Mayor’s Courts in Ohio
Municipalities that have a population of 100 people or more who don’t have a municipal court can choose to establish a Mayor’s Court. A mayor’s Court functions similar to a municipal court because it oversees alleged misdemeanor and traffic violations that are within their limits.
What separates a municipal court and a mayor’s court is who presides over the cases. In a municipal court, the law for the court is interpreted by the judge and the verdict for your case is decided by a jury. For mayor’s court, the final decision of the court is overseen by either the mayor themselves or a magistrate appointed in their place. You cannot receive a jury trial if you’re tried in a mayor’s court. However, you can transfer your case to a municipal court instead before the trial or as part of an appeal.
Municipal and County Courts in Ohio
A court with a much larger scope of power than a mayor’s court is the municipal courts. These courts handle traffic violations, non-traffic misdemeanors, evictions and small civil matters. In some cases, a municipal court can conduct a preliminary hearing for a felony case.
A municipal court has limited jurisdiction, but the limits are determined by the court. Some municipal courts have jurisdiction over the whole county, while others may only operate within their corporate limits. County courts typically handle the same cases as municipal courts. These courts are reserved for cases that are outside the municipal court’s jurisdiction. If there’s a municipal court with county-wide jurisdiction, then there likely won’t be a county court.
The Court of Common Pleas in Ohio
Every county in Ohio has a court of common pleas. These are trial courts that have general jurisdiction in the state. Some courts are categorized by divisions to expediate the judicial process. These divisions can include general, domestic relations, probate and juvenile sectors.
A court of common pleas general jurisdiction handles all criminal felony cases. They also preside over civil claims that exceed $15,000. Most criminal cases are resolved at the court’s general division. The domestic relations division has jurisdiction over family law matters such as annulment, legal separation or divorce.
The court of common pleas includes a juvenile division which handles delinquency by minors such as vandalism or criminal mischief. It can also include cases involving unruly, dependent and neglected children. The court also has a probate division which handles legal contracts such as guardianship or wills.
Appeals Courts in Ohio
If you believe your case was compromised by a legal error, then you could appeal it at the District Courts of Appeals in Ohio. These courts handle only appeals cases, which means the court doesn’t retry the verdict but reviews the entire trial itself. In Ohio, there are twelve appellate districts that each consist of one county.
In an appellate court, your case won’t be heard by a jury. Instead the case will be overseen and decided by a three-judge panel. Each judge is elected into term for six years. If your appeal is overturned, then your last chance of appealing your case is at the Ohio Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court in Ohio
The highest court in Ohio is the Supreme Court. The court is composed of seven members, which includes a chief justice and six associate justices. Each judge is elected into their position and must serve a six-year term. The Supreme Court has final authority over all interpretations of the law.
Most cases will never end up on the Supreme Court’s docket. This is because the court is reserved for matters that couldn’t be resolved in both county and state courts. If you have a case tried in Ohio’s Supreme Court, you can no longer appeal the decision.
Diversion Court Systems in Ohio
The state of Ohio has established specialized courts as an alternative to the statutory penalties for offenders. These courts are known as diversion or pre-trial programs where you can complete the conditions and avoid incarceration. In some cases, you can even have your case entirely dismissed upon completion of the program. A few examples include:
- Drug Courts – These courts allow non-violent drug offenders to undergo rehabilitative treatment rather than pay expensive fines or spend time in jail. People convicted of drug trafficking, violent crimes or have an extensive criminal history cannot enter drug court.
- OVI/DUI Courts – Some counties offer DUI courts for people accused of drinking and driving. To participate, you must complete the court-mandated programs in a timely manner. Participating in DUI court will help you avoid most of the penalties.
- Domestic Violence Courts – A person may be able to have their guilt adjudicated if they attend domestic violence court. The offender and victim must agree and undergo counseling or intervention to participate in domestic violence court.
- Sex Offender Courts – Sex offenders could possibly avoid the statutory penalties if they join a sex offender court. These courts use treatment and community supervision to address the underlying issues with the offender.
- Veteran’s Court – People who have served or are currently serving in the military can enter veteran’s court. The court provides treatment for both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) for soldiers.
Trial Courts in Ohio – Visit the official website for the Supreme Court and Judicial System to find a list of all the trial courts in Ohio. Access the site to find the closest court near you, their rules and links to their respective websites.
Montgomery Court of Common Pleas – Visit the official website for Montgomery County’s Court of Common Pleas to learn more about their services. Access the site to find more information on the court’s departments, important forms and court rules.
Defense Lawyer Explains Court Systems in Montgomery County, OH
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it’s imperative you take action. The clock is ticking and a bad decision could require you to pay expensive fines or even spend time in jail or prison. Fight back by obtaining experienced legal counsel with Joslyn Law Firm.
The attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm are experienced in all types of criminal law. We have handled anything from minor misdemeanors to capital felonies. Our team of knowledgeable attorneys will work for you to create a formidable defense. Call us now at (937) 356-3969 to set up your free consultation. Joslyn Law Firm represents people throughout the Dayton area including Moraine, Englewood, Trotwood, Centerville and Miamisburg.
This article was last updated on July 25, 2019.