Criminal Matters : Felonies and Misdemeanors

How are crimes classified?

There are two major classifications of crimes:

felonies and misdemeanors.

  • A felony is defined as a serious crime carrying a potential penalty of imprisonment for more than six months, or death.  Aggravated murder is the most serious felony; some others are murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping, rape and robbery.
  • A misdemeanor is defined as a crime that generally carries a local jail term of six months or less (but can be up to one year).  Typically, a fine is imposed instead of or in addition to jail time.  Probation supervision, community service, restitution, and other local sanctions are common.  Misdemeanors-which include a great variety of offenses from littering and speeding to drunken driving (the first three times) and simple assault (with minimal harm)-are generally less serious offenses than felonies. Misdemeanants are not eligible for prison terms.

Can legal aid help me with my criminal matter?

No, because criminal matters are handled by the public defender office in your county or a court-appointed counsel system, not by civil legal aid or Ohio Legal Services.

Locate your local Public Defender's Office now.

Learn more about this topic by listening to the Court Tour legal minute now.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
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