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Should I talk to the police when they question me about a crime?
At the scene of a crime, police are trained to treat everyone as either a victim or a suspected perpetrator. If you are a victim of the crime, by all means, talk to the officer and provide the best information you can to help with the investigation. If you are not a victim, you must give your correct name and address when questioned by a police officer. Failure to do so may be obstruction of justice. Beyond that, you do not have to talk to the police right then and there. You can remain silent or ask for time to go and talk to an attorney before making a statement. If the officer takes you in for questioning, it is often wise to say nothing until you speak to a lawyer.
What is the standard of proof in a criminal case?
The prosecution is required to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged offense occurred and the Defendant was responsible for committing the offense. Reasonable doubt, in Ohio, is present when, after you have carefully considered and compared all the evidence, you cannot say you are FIRMLY CONVINCED of the truth of the charge. Reasonable doubt is not mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof of such character that an ordinary person would be willing to rely and act upon it in the most important of his or her own affairs. The Judge or Jury should be left with absolutely no doubt in their minds as to whether or not the Defendant should be held accountable and punished.
What is the difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
The distinction involves prison time. Felony convictions result in the possibility of six months or longer in prison as opposed to local jail time. A misdemeanor is punishable by less than a year in local jail. Felony charges are attached to more serious offenses, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. Misdemeanor charges are typically filed in cases involving theft, criminal damaging, drug possession, OVI or DUI, and domestic violence. Subsequent arrests for certain offenses, including OVI or DUI and domestic violence, leads to felony charges.
Are there any differences between Adult Court and Juvenile Court?
The terminology used in each Court is entirely different. For example, an adult is found guilty whereas a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent. An adult offender is listed as the defendant; a juvenile offender is referred to as the respondent. A complaint is filed in adult court instead of the petition used for juvenile hearings. The goals of each system are different. The juvenile court system is focused on rehabilitation of the youth. Punishments and fines in the adult court system are used to deter future crimes. In most cases, a juvenile cannot be incarcerated past the age of 21. Adults, however, are subject to much longer sentences. In cases involving serious crimes committed by a juvenile, the prosecution can request the case be moved to the adult court system through a “bind over hearing.”
Do I need an attorney to represent me for an OVI or DUI charge?
OVI or DUI law is constantly changing. It is important to retain an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who understands the complexities of the law. Even if you have no intention of fighting the charge, an attorney can help explain and navigate you through the court process. Additionally, a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain arrangement you never thought was possible.
Do I have to take the Field Sobriety Tests? How about the Breath Test?
The Field Sobriety Tests are absolutely voluntary. Police often times have already made a decision to arrest you prior to the administration of Field Sobriety Tests. The Portable Breath Test, which is administered in the field, is also voluntary. Police Officers tend to omit that information when asking someone to submit to these tests. The formal Breath Test, usually conducted at the Police Station, can be refused, but you will face a longer suspension period for this refusal.
I highly recommend refusing both of these tests and making the government prove their case with as little evidence as possible. The chemical test is often times the strongest piece of evidence against you. Refusal to submit to a chemical test may result in an additional criminal charge against you. It is easier to refuse and fight the charges in Court than it is to dispute the result of the breath, blood, or urine test. Current Ohio law makes it exceptionally difficult for defense attorneys to challenge a breath, blood, or urine test.
Can an OVI or DUI conviction be expunged from my criminal record?
No. OVI or DUI convictions, like all traffic convictions, leave a permanent mark on your record. Unfortunately, they cannot be expunged.
Do you guarantee an outcome?
I can never guarantee an outcome. I can only guarantee that I will put my full knowledge and considerable skill to work on your behalf.