Criminal Defense Lawyers in Kent, Ohio
The criminal law imposes more than jail time and fines. Depending on the crime, the consequences extend to loss of driver’s licenses, disqualification to hold certain occupational licenses or positions, and forfeiture of voting rights or the right to own or possess firearms. Sex offenders must register as such and face prohibitions against being present at schools, daycares, playgrounds and other places where children regularly and commonly congregate.
Criminal defense lawyers aim to avoid or reduce the of the loss of liberty, reputation and privileges that can come with criminal charges and convictions.
What is Criminal Defense?
If you stand accused of crime, your defense goes beyond preparing for a trial. A criminal defense lawyer in Kent analyzes the evidence and considers potential pleas or other options that may reduce the negative impacts to you of a criminal conviction. We examine carefully the specific elements and punishments or other consequences of particular crimes. Below are the types of crimes for which we offer representation.
- Drug Crimes
- Violent Crimes
- White Collar Crimes
- Theft Crimes
- Student Crimes
OVI stands for the crime of “operating a vehicle under the influence” of alcohol or controlled substances. A per se OVI arises if your blood alcohol content (BAC) registers at least 0.08 on a breathalyzer or blood test, or 0.11 on a urine test. For those under the age of 21 years old, lower BAC thresholds apply. In the absence of a BAC test, a court may convict you for OVI based on observations and other evidence of impaired driving. This may include failed field sobriety tests, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol at the time of the stop.
With OVI cases, it may become necessary to challenge the officer’s authority to stop you in the first place. To that end, a criminal defense lawyer in Ravenna, Ohio may argue that the officer lacked a reasonable basis that you were committing OVI, a traffic violation or other criminal offense which predicated the stop.
The punishments for OVI turn upon the BAC and your prior record. On a first offense, you face jail time between three days and six months and suspension of your driver’s license for one to three years. The incarceration and suspension periods increase for repeat offenders. For instance, a fourth OVI conviction in six years or fifth in 20 years is a felony, as is an OVI that results in death.
In addition of DUIs and OVIs, we represent clients throughout Portage County who are charged with traffic offenses such as driving with a suspended or revoked license and causing death because of the operation of a motor vehicle.
State and federal laws prohibit the sale, manufacture, distribution, trafficking and possession of various kinds of controlled substances. The punishments vary by statute, but generally include (especially for felonies) jail, fines and loss of your license or ability to practice law, medicine, pharmacy or other professions. Drug offenses may result in asset forfeitures.
Ohio law considers the potential danger for addition presented by the particular drug in punishments. As such, controlled substances fall into categories known as “schedules.” Marijuana, LSD and heroin, considered the most addictive, get “Schedule I” status. Trafficking in Schedule I or II cases or near schools or juveniles constitutes “aggravated trafficking.” Penalties increase in severity with the quantity of drugs involved.
For some drug charges, entrapment might constitute a defense. This is because many illegal drug sales or purchases involve an undercover officer. Many drug cases, especially with possession charges, raise the legality of the search or stop under the Fourth Amendment.
Violent crimes have the common thread of physically harming or attempting to physically harm another. They range from simple assaults to murder.
Simple assaults usually have no or, at most, minimal injuries and carry lesser crimes. Assault becomes felonious if you use a weapon or harm an unborn child. For felonious assault, punishments include a potential two to eight years in prison, a fine up to $20,000.00, and an order to pay restitution to the victim.
Robberies are violent crimes because the perpetrator uses force to steal another’s property. While bank robberies get considerable attention, any use or show of force to take another’s property suffices for a robbery conviction.
In addition to potentially multiple years of imprisonment, disqualifications against firearm possession result from crimes of violence. Federal law prohibits those convicted of domestic violence from owning or possessing a firearm. With the exception of simple assaults, you cannot have records of violent crimes of which you are convicted sealed, or expunged.
The unlawful killing of another stands as the most serious category of crimes. Depending on the type of homicide, those convicted may serve between 15 years and life or face the death penalty.
Homicides are distinguished generally by the state of mind in play at the time. If you’re charged with first-degree (or aggravated) murder, the prosecution generally must prove that you acted with the intent and design to kill. Murders committed during a robbery, kidnapping, rape, burglary and other certain felonies are treated as “aggravated murders” for purposes of punishment. Aggravated murders, which also arise from killing certain victims such as police officers, carry life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Manslaughter occurs when commission of a misdemeanor or negligence causes another’s death, when someone commits or attempts a felonious act, or when an intentional killing occurs in the heat of passion. To help you avoid the harshest punishments of death or life without parole, a Stow, Ohio criminal defense lawyer may include a plea bargaining to a lesser degree of homicide.
The evidence in homicide cases often comes from eyewitness testimony, physical evidence and alleged confessions of the defendant. Accordingly, a Ravenna criminal defense attorney may attempt to suppress your statements to law enforcement because you were not advised of your rights to remain silent and have a lawyer, or you invoked your rights and the police interrogated you anyway. At the trial, issues such as the handling of the crime scene and evidence often arise. Jury selection is a critical facet of ensuring that you have a fair trial, especially with the high stakes of a murder of homicide trial.
White Collar Crimes
Financial crimes include embezzlement, money laundering, forgery and bribery. Fraudulent, secretive and misleading actions and misuse of a position of trust for financial gain characterize these crimes.
Embezzlement occurs when a person fraudulently uses or takes property entrusted to him or her for another purpose. Since a fiduciary relationship must exist between the defendant and victim, defendants in embezzlement crimes are normally employees, agents, attorneys, and/or corporate or organizational officers such as presidents or treasurers. Embezzlement differs from larceny in that the former requires proof you were authorized to have possession or custody of the property in the first place. In a larceny case, you are accused of taking property when you had no original right to have it.
If you face embezzlement charges, an experienced Portage County lawyer might raise defenses to negate the lack of fraudulent intent. For instance, they might contend that you honestly believed that the invoice you paid was valid or that you otherwise had permission or authority to transfer the money.
In a money laundering case, the prosecution claims that you hid or participated in hiding money obtained from criminal activity. While the complexity varies by case, money laundering schemes typically involve using the ill-gotten gains in facially-legitimate transaction such as purchasing goods or services or making an investment. The proceeds of a later sale of the purchased items or investments then appear as legitimate. In some cases, the participants may establish shell or “dummy” corporations to conduct the supposedly valid transactions.
Bribery and Extortion
Bribery and extortion crimes both involve the defendant extracting something of value. Extortion happens when the defendant threatens an act of violence or threatens to publish defamatory or embarrassing matter unless the victim gives the defendant money or other items of value.
In a bribery case, a person offers something positive in exchange for a particular action. Many bribery cases involve public officials or employees receiving or being offered money in exchange for awards of contracts, approvals of permits or dismissals of criminal charges.
Bribery also arises in cases between two private parties, particularly when the conduct affects judicial or other official proceedings. Such is the case when, say, one party to a lawsuit offers something of value for favorable testimony or a favorable verdict. In these cases, the prosecutor may actually charge the defendant with obstruction of justice based upon the bribe or attempted bribe.
In bribery cases, money is a common item of value. However, offering or giving property or services also qualify as things of value under bribery laws.
Larceny consists of the taking of personal property from another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession. Whether you steal the property from an individual, retail business or other owner, the value of what was stolen determines if you face misdemeanor or felony theft. Specifically, theft is a felony when the value is at least $1,000.00. Beyond that threshold, the level of felony and punishment rises as the value is higher. Theft of a motor vehicle, firearm or dangerous drug constitutes a felony, regardless of value. Larcenies can be felonious if the victim is elderly.
Other Types of Theft
Our laws recognize that theft can occur through methods other than physical taking. Identity theft involves opening credit cards or other accounts using another’s social security number, name or birthday. All instances of identity theft are felonies, but the loss to the victim measures the level of the felony. When the victim suffers no loss, a conviction for identity theft is a fifth degree one that carries a $2,500 fine and six months to a year imprisonment.
In a bad check case, the prosecutor accuses you of writing a check knowing you do not have enough money in your account to cover it or having previously stopped payment from your account. If the check exceeds $500, you face at least a fifth-degree felony count. To defend bad check cases, a defense lawyer can argue the lack of intent to defraud, such as you thought your account had enough to cover the check or that the recipient knew that your check was not collectible.
Our Portage County firm also defends you against forgery charges, in which you are accused of signing someone else’s name to an instrument. The documents may include checks, contracts, deeds, other documents transferring title or property.
Strictly speaking, burglary is not a theft crime. Burglary occurs when the defendant breaks or enters into an occupied structure intending to commit a crime. The predicate crime may include, but does not necessarily have to be, a theft. In fact, breaking and entering with the purpose of committing a violent crime or while causing or attempting physical harm aggravates the burglary to a first degree felony. The penalty brings fines of over $20,000 and imprisonment up to 11 years.
Our Kent, Ohio law firm provides services including defending students against suspensions and other school discipline, especially arising from serious crimes or school policy violations. Students face suspension from school for bomb threats during school hours or school activities, fights and bringing weapons on school grounds. Recent laws in our state have limited the authority of school systems to suspend students and provide that suspended students be able to make up work.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
Contact us for a zealous defense of criminal charges and your interests. We will analyze the evidence against you, investigate, interview witnesses and find solutions to avoid or mitigate the serious consequences that come with criminal convictions. Having an experienced lawyer here in Portage County can also help you avoid making incriminating statements to law enforcement or others.