The Criminal Court Process

Being charged with a crime can be an overwhelming experience, especially if it’s your first time. Though Ohio criminal law is a very complicated process, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer will ensure that you receive the best possible outcome in your case—not to mention provide you with peace of mind.

At Dungan & LeFevre, we understand the entire process and can help you understand it better. The following is a brief introduction to the Ohio criminal court process with respect to defense cases—it is not intended to be all-inclusive. If you’d like more information on how we can help you with your particular situation, please contact us right away.

Procedures for Criminal Court Cases

Although the laws are complex, and each case is different, the procedures for criminal cases are basically the same:


The criminal court process begins with an investigation by the local police department. In many instances, the officers do not actually witness the crime firsthand and make an arrest; therefore, a lengthy investigation is often necessary to make the decision as to whether or not to file a charge at all.

If you suspect or are aware that you are being investigated for a crime, you should contact us immediately to discuss a strategy that could potentially prevent the filing of any charges against you.

Charges and Bail

If the police believe they have enough evidence against you, they may issue an arrest warrant, and you may be taken into custody. Understand that you have certain constitutional rights at all times that must be protected. These include:

  • the right to an attorney
  • the right to remain silent
  • the right to a presumption of innocence
  • the right to a trial

Protecting these rights at the earliest possible stages in the process usually results in a better outcome.

If you have been arrested, you will likely have the opportunity to make bail by posting money or a bond as a surety for your future appearance in court. The level of the bail is often determined by the seriousness of the charges against you.

Court Appearances

Once you have been charged, you often will have an opportunity to require the government to present the evidence against you at a preliminary hearing (or a probable cause hearing if the charge is a felony). If the charge is a misdemeanor, you may have an opportunity for a pretrial, where your attorney can speak to the prosecutor on your behalf and review the evidence that is filed against you.

In some cases, it might be beneficial to explore the possibility of a plea bargain—convincing the prosecution to reduce the charges against you to a less serious offense. Our attorneys and members of our criminal defense team are trained negotiators fully capable of obtaining the best results possible in your case, whether it be by way of plea bargain or trial.


Since not all cases result in charges being dismissed or a not guilty verdict being rendered following a trial, it is possible you may be sentenced for a particular offense. There are vastly different sentencing guidelines depending upon the nature of the crime and, in many instances, the particular defendant’s background or previous history. Sentencing for different classes of felonies and misdemeanors could mean a vast difference in jail time and fines. Felony convictions can result in the loss of certain rights, such as the right to vote, the right to serve in the military, and the right to carry a firearm. You should be aware of all the possibilities before making any decisions.

Our Criminal Defense Attorneys

Whatever stage of the criminal process, the attorneys at Dungan & LeFevre will know what to do, and we will put our aggressiveness, intelligence, and experience to work for you in an effort to ensure the best possible outcome. If you have been charged with a crime anywhere in the Miami Valley, contact us for a free consultation. Jack Hemm, Steve Justice, and Mike Rice can handle all types of criminal matters.

Work With Our Miami County Legal Team

Whatever your demands, Dungan & LeFevre is the full-service law firm you need. We can help you explore your options, guide you through challenges, and represent you in court. You can rely on our experience and knowledge to steer you to your best decision for the most reasonable price. Get started with a consultation.