In Ohio, a police officer can arrest and charge you with a misdemeanor offense. However, in regards to felonies, a law enforcement officer can only arrest and detain you. The charging process for felonies is by way of the grand jury.
The grand jury is a jury made up of 9 randomly selected registered voters of the county in which the crime is alleged to have happened. It is a secret proceeding and only the prosecutor attorney is present. There is no judge present, defense attorneys are not allowed to attend and the rules of evidence do not apply.
The prosecuting attorney has sole discretion in selecting what evidence to present to the grand jury while pursuing potential felony charges against an individual. The prosecutor attorney provides a factual scenario and the grand jury can return one of three potential findings:
1. No Bill – the grand jury found that no crime was committed;
2. Remand – the case was remanded, meaning that the grand jury believes a crime was committed, but that it was a misdemeanor and not a felony;
3. True Bill/Indictment – here the grand jury believes that it was likely that a felony was committed by the accused within the county of their jurisdiction. At this point, an individual is charged with a felony, the matter will be scheduled for an arraignment to give the defendant an opportunity to plead not guilty and defend the accusations.
Like misdemeanors, felonies are divided into different levels, with the potential penalties increasing as the category level increases.
In Ohio, there are basically 6 levels of felonies, from felonies of the fifth degree (receiving stolen property) to felonies of the first degree (aggravated robbery) to unclassified felonies (murder).
The overriding purposes of felony sentencing are to protect the public from future crime by the offender and others , to punish the offender, and to promote the effective rehabilitation of the offender using the minimum sanctions that the court determines accomplish those purposes without imposing an unnecessary burden on state or local government resources.
A sentence imposed for a felony shall be reasonably calculated to achieve the purposes of felony sentencing, commensurate with and not demeaning to the seriousness of the offender's conduct and its impact upon the victim, and consistent with sentences imposed for similar crimes committed by similar offenders.
There are certain characteristics the court will analyze. Is the offender’s conduct more serious then conduct that normally constitutes the offense? Is the offender’s conduct less serious then conduct that normally constitutes the offense? What is the offender’s likelihood of recidivism or is it likely the offender will commit more crimes in the future?
Some crimes a defendant is eligible for community control or probation. Other crimes carry mandatory prison time. Some charged can even have an indefinite period of imprisonment.
Generally, felonies have the following maximum potential penalties.
Felony Level Prison Time Maximum Fine
F1 (first degree) 3-11 years $20,000.00
F2 2-8 years $15,000.00
F3 9 months - 5 years $10,000.00
F4 6 - 18 months $5,000.00
F5 6 - 12 months $2,500.00
Aggravated Murder and Murder are unclassified felonies and if convicted have life sentences that range from the possibility of parole after 15 years to a sentence of life with no possibility of parole.