What makes a crime a felony?

When an Ohio or federal statute specifies a penalty of at least one year of incarceration, committing that offense constitutes a felony. Crimes punishable by less than 12 months in a local jail, a state or federal prison, or under home arrest are misdemeanors.

Is there a list of felony offenses?

Crimes that can be prosecuted as felonies are listed in the Ohio Revised Code and U.S. Code. Broadly, the named offenses are

  • Homicide/murder
  • Assault (i.e., making threats and inflicting injuries)
  • Kidnapping
  • Extortion (i.e., blackmail and coercion)
  • Patient abuse and neglect
  • Rape and other sexual assaults
  • Prostitution and sex trafficking
  • Arson
  • Vandalism
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Trespassing
  • Theft, forgery, and fraud
  • Gambling
  • Rioting
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Child abuse and child endangerment
  • Nonpayment of child support
  • Domestic violence
  • Perjury
  • Conspiracy
  • Weapons crimes ranging from illegal possession to use in the commission of a crime
  • Public corruption and racketeering (i.e., coordinating criminal activity)
  • Drug possession, sale, manufacture, and cultivation
  • Operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) by alcohol or drugs
  • Terrorism
  • Treason
  • Spying/Espionage

Some of these offenses are always felonies and others are misdemeanor that become felonies when certain factors are present.

When does a crime that is usually treated as a misdemeanor get prosecuted as a felony?

Aggravating circumstances, multiple prior convictions, and stealing large amounts can make a crime a felony. For example:

  • Aggravated offenses-Using a weapon, assaulting a police officer, or harming a child while working as a teacher are just some aggravating factors that raise misdemeanors to felonies under Ohio law, even if the threats or physical damage were relatively minor.
  • Multiple convictions-A fourth OVI arrest within a six-year period will bring an automatic felony charge. Likewise, a prior theft of drugs conviction makes the next one a felony.
  • High value of property stolen-Stealing more than $1,000 in goods or services is a felony, while stealing less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor.

Will I know whether I have been charged with a felony?

Yes. Police must inform you verbally and in writing of the offense you allegedly committed when charging you.

Once you have been formally charged, you will attend a preliminary court hearing called an arraignment. There, you will be informed of exactly what your charge is and the possible penalties.

If you learn that you face a serious misdemeanor or felony, you should hire a defense lawyer. Be aware that you have the right to an attorney at all times, even before an arrest.

Can hiring a Columbus criminal felony defense lawyer benefit me?

Of course. Having your own legal advocate ensures that your case does not slip through the cracks. Too many people are in Ohio jails and federal penitentiaries simply because they lacked adequate legal representation.

At Campbell Law, you can be assured that your concerns and defense will matter. Reach out to let us know how we can be of service. The first call costs you nothing.