Ohio Sentencing Guidelines
It’s essential to understand the various sentencing stages if you’ve been charged or convicted of a crime in Ohio. This is when you’ll learn what penalties and punishments you’ll need to deal with, so you’ll also want the details about the specific crime you have been accused of.
If you have questions about sentencing, contact a Columbus criminal defense attorney right away. The team at Luftman, Heck & Associates can help you understand your options and how to avoid sentencing altogether, hopefully. Call (614) 500-3836 or reach out online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Ohio Sentencing Guidelines
Ohio sentencing guidelines are recommendations that judges use to determine the appropriate punishment for a criminal conviction. The guidelines are based on several factors, including the severity of the offense, the offender’s prior criminal record, and any mitigating or aggravating factors.
The guidelines are not mandatory. However, judges are required to consider them when imposing a sentence. If a judge chooses to impose a sentence outside the guidelines, they must explain their reasons.
Ohio sentencing guidelines are divided into:
- Part A – applies to felony offenses and provides a range of possible sentences for each offense.
- Part B – for misdemeanor offenses with a range of possible sentences for each.
Types of Criminal Sentences in Ohio
Ohio sentences individuals largely based on the category and severity of the offense.
Felonies are divided into five degrees, with F1 being the most severe and F5 being the least serious.
Felony sentencing guidelines are as follows:
- F-1: Prison term ranging from three years to 11 years and a maximum fine of up to $20,000
- F-2: Prison term ranging from two years to eight years and a maximum fine of up to $15,000
- F-3: Prison term ranging from nine months to five years and a maximum fine of up to $10,000
- F-4: Prison term ranging from six months to 18 months and a maximum fine of up to $5,000
- F-5: Prison term ranging from six months to 12 months and a maximum fine of up to $2,500
Misdemeanor sentencing is also divided into categories, with M-1 being the most serious and a Minor Misdemeanor being the least serious.
The sentencing terms for misdemeanors are:
- M-1: Jail term of up to 180 days and a maximum fine of up to $1,000
- M-2: Jail term of up to 90 days and a maximum fine of up to $750
- M-3: Jail term of up to 60 days and a maximum fine of up to $500
- M-4: Jail term of up to 30 days and a maximum fine of $250
- Minor Misdemeanor: No jail term and a maximum fine of up to $150
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Some crimes, like drug trafficking or violent crimes, may require a minimum sentence. That is the lowest time the judge must use in the case. The judge may still go higher than that minimum, but they cannot go lower.
Factors Influencing Sentences
Several factors influence sentencing in Ohio. Some of the most common include:
- The seriousness of the Offense: This includes the nature of the crime, the harm caused to the victim, and the impact on society. More severe crimes usually result in harsher sentences.
- Recidivism Risk: This is the likelihood that the offender will commit another crime. It is gauged based on the offender’s criminal history, age, and other factors.
- Victim Impact: The impact of the crime on the victim may be considered.
- Community Safety: The court considers how much of a threat the defendant poses to society.
- Restitution: Ability and willingness to make restitution to the victim could influence the sentence.
Ohio Mitigating & Aggravating Factors
There may be mitigating factors that may reduce the severity of the sentence. Things like remorse, cooperation with law enforcement, and mental illness can help reduce a sentence. Some factors can increase the sentence’s severity, such as violence, use of a weapon, and prior convictions.
The sentencing judge must consider all these factors when determining the appropriate punishment for an offender. The judge also has the discretion to consider other relevant factors, such as the offender’s employment status, family ties, and military service.
Ohio Pre-Sentencing Reports
A probation officer prepares a pre-sentencing report and includes information about the defendant’s background, family, employment, criminal history, and more. This report helps the judge make an informed sentencing decision.
Pre-sentencing reports are important during sentencing because they offer judicial guidance and recommendations. They help the judge understand the context surrounding the crime. They may also contain recommendations for the sentence type (e.g., probation, community service, or jail time).
The Role of a Lawyer at Sentencing
You may think that a defense attorney’s job is done if you’re being sentenced. But this is where their advocacy and experience really come into play.
A lawyer’s primary role during sentencing is to support their client. They’ll present arguments that could lead to a more lenient sentence. They’ll also challenge any aggravating factors presented by the prosecution. They may also recommend alternative sentencing options for your benefit and society. Your attorney will ensure the entire process adheres to legal standards and they’ll uphold your rights.
Once a sentence is handed down, the lawyer clarifies its implications to the defendant, advises on potential appeals, and often provides emotional support. Their involvement ensures that the sentencing process is fair, just, and in accordance with the law.
How to Improve/Mitigate a Sentence
There are several ways to mitigate your sentence or improve your chances of a lower sentence in Ohio. With help from your defense attorney, you can explore the following:
- Good Behavior: Demonstrating remorse and cooperative behavior can have a positive influence.
- Rehabilitation Programs: Voluntarily enrolling in rehab or community service can indicate a willingness to reform.
- Character References: Strong recommendations from community members can aid your case.
- Restitution: Making voluntary restitution payments may positively affect your sentencing.
- Show Remorse: Expressing genuine remorse for your crime can make a positive impression on the judge. You can do this by writing a letter of apology to the victim, participating in counseling or anger management classes, or volunteering in your community.
- Accept Responsibility: Taking responsibility for your actions shows the judge that you are serious about changing your behavior. You can do this by pleading guilty to the charges and cooperating with the prosecution.
Ohio Criminal Sentencing _ Resources &Further Reading
- Ohio State Bar Association
- Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
- How To Expunge Your Record in Ohio
- Felony & Misdemeanor Sentences for Receiving Stolen Property
- 5 Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer During a Free Consultation
- 10 Things to Consider Before Pleading Guilty in Ohio
Consult a Columbus Criminal Defense Lawyer
Understanding Ohio’s sentencing guidelines, the importance of a pre-sentencing report, and the role a defense lawyer plays can dramatically impact the outcome of a criminal case. With proper legal guidance, there are avenues to mitigate the severity of a sentence.
Luftman, Heck & Associates has a team of legal professionals who can help guide you through this part of your case. Call us today at (614) 500-3836 or use our online form to set up a free case evaluation. We’ll explain the law, how it applies to your case in terms of a possible sentence, and what we can do to help.