21 Charges That Require a Criminal Lawyer

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When you are in a car accident, you may need to hire a personal injury lawyer. And if you want help with your estate plans, you may need to work with a Will lawyer. But if you are being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you need the representation of a criminal lawyer. Misdemeanor charges can result in a fine and/or less than a year of prison, while felony charges can put you in prison for more than a year.

There are several types of charges that could result in the need for a criminal lawyer.

First, here are ten kinds of misdemeanors:

  • Marijuana possession (in Ohio)
  • First-offense possession of some other kinds of drugs
  • Vandalism
  • Trespassing
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Simple assault
  • Public intoxication
  • Prostitution
  • Reckless driving
  • Petty theft

You may have a few questions about these misdemeanor charges.

Q: What constitutes petty theft rather than grand theft (which is a felony)?

In Ohio, the difference between petty theft and grand theft is entirely based on the value of what was stolen. If the services or property allegedly stolen are valued at less than $1,000, the first-degree misdemeanor charge is petty theft. However, if the objects stolen were guns or drugs, even an amount under $1,000 could be charged as a felony. Also, if the person stolen from was an individual with a disability, a service member in the military, or an elderly person, those charges could be elevated as well. First-degree misdemeanor charges can yield up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines, plus court costs and attorney’s fees. Between the levels “petty theft” and “grand theft” there is simply “theft.”

Q: What is the difference between a “simple assault” and “aggravated assault” (which is a felony)?

There are four types of assault in Ohio: simple, negligent, felony, and aggravated. Simple assault is “knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to another or another’s unborn” or “recklessly causing serious physical harm to another or to another’s unborn.” Simple assault can result in up to six months of jail time, and negligent assault includes the use of a deadly weapon – an example of this would be a hunting accident. The punishments are less severe for negligent assault than for simple assault, as it is often accidental in nature. Felony assault elevates the physical harm to “serious harm,” with or without a weapon. Aggravated assault is similar to felony assault, but the accused person does this serious harm while “under the influence of sudden passion or in a sudden fit of rage.” Felony assault can lead to fines up to $20,000, while aggravated assault fines only go up to $5,000.

Q: Are there some drugs that would be charged as a felony, even on a first offense?

Every state has its own drug laws. Ohio is no exception. The Ohio Revised Code Section 2925.11 describes possession as “knowingly obtaining, possessing, or using a controlled substance.”

Ohio classifies controlled substances as being in one of five “schedules.” The most serious drugs are Schedule I, and the least serious are Schedule V.

Schedule V drugs include antidiarrheal and cough suppressant medications. They have very little potential for abuse. Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Valium, and Ambien – again, all of these have proven medical use. Schedule III drugs have slightly more risk of abuse or dependence, and include anabolic steroids and Ketamine.

Schedule II and Schedule I classifications may surprise you. Schedule II, the less dangerous classification of the two, includes oxycodone, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Schedule I in Ohio, the group considered to have the highest potential for abuse, includes heroin, LSD, and marijuana.

And here are thirteen kinds of felonies:

  • Fraud
  • Intent to distribute illegal drugs (particular quantities or types of drugs)
  • Possession of certain types of drugs
  • Grand larceny
  • Grand theft
  • Robbery / burglary
  • Arson
  • Aggravated assault
  • Battery
  • Rape
  • Treason
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
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