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Ohio Court System

Ohio has a two-court system that is used by every state in the nation. Which means that Ohio has state courts and federal courts. Within this system there are multiple levels and specific types of these courts.

The type of court that a person appears in depends on the law and jurisdiction. Criminal cases may be heard in different courts depending on where the alleged offense occurred and what the nature of the allegation.

State and federal courts have different sets of rules and requirements, but each one allows you the right to an attorney. Legal representation is critical in ensuring that alleged offenders in criminal cases achieve the most favorable outcomes while protecting their rights in the process.

Defending Your Rights Throughout Ohio

If you were recently arrested or believe you are being investigated for criminal allegations, we recommend you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. The Law Office of Brian Jones can defend your rights in courts throughout Delaware County, Franklin County, Union County, Marion County, Knox County, Morrow Licking County, Crawford County, Richland County, Madison County, and Wyandot County.

Give us a call so we can review your case and help you understand what to expect, but more importantly we can create a specialized defense plan through a confidential consultation.

Federal Courts

There are three courts in Ohio that are dedicated to deciding matters of federal law or cases in which the United States is a party. There are two federal trial courts in Ohio that are called district courts, and these districts are further divided into two divisions. The federal district courts in Ohio are:

  • US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio — The Eastern Division is in Columbus, while the Western Division has locations in Cincinnati and Dayton.
  • US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio — The Eastern Division has locations in Akron, Cleveland, and Youngstown, while the Western Division is in Toledo.
  • In addition to these federal trial courts, Ohio is also home to a federal appellate court that handles appeals not only from both of Ohio’s district courts but also district courts in Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Appellant Court

Ohio District Courts of Appeals are the state’s intermediate appellate courts. These courts also have original jurisdiction to hear certain proceedings, such as applications for writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, procedendo, prohibition, and quo warranto. The Ohio Supreme Court can review cases from the courts of appeals, but the decision of a District Court of Appeals in Ohio is usually end of the appeals process for most cases.

Other Courts

Certain jurisdictions in Ohio also have courts that are separate from the traditional criminal court system yet can provide alleged offenders an alternative to their current situation. A few examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Mental Health Courts — These courts attempt provide mental health assessments, treatment, and judicial monitoring for alleged offenders with mental illnesses.
  • Drug Courts — These courts allow certain non-violent alleged offender with substance abuse issues to undergo treatment, rehabilitation, and monitoring in lieu of imprisonment.
  • OVI/DUI Courts — Alleged offenders in these courts are required to successfully complete court-mandated programs in lieu of criminal penalties.
  • Domestic Violence Courts — These types of courts may adjudicate criminal offenses involving intimate partners by having alleged offenders and possibly victims undergo counseling and therapy sessions.
  • Child Support Enforcement Courts — These courts help parents who have fallen behind on child support payments to be referred to court-assigned drug treatment, education, or job training in lieu of incarceration.
  • Re-entry Courts — These courts attempt to reduce an alleged offender’s habitual relapse into crime through drug and alcohol testing, participation in programs and treatment, and regular reviews of progress.
  • Sex Offender Courts — These courts use treatment and community supervision to address underlying issues rather than imprisoning the alleged offenders.
  • Veterans Courts — These courts are specifically dedicated to military veterans who may have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Common Pleas Courts

The Common Pleas Courts are in all 88 counties of Ohio and hear a great variety of cases. Ohio Court of Common Pleas is unlike other kinds of trial courts in Ohio that are regulated by statute, the countywide jurisdiction of common pleas courts are established under the state constitution and can only be changed by an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. This Court has divisions dedicated to general, domestic relations, juvenile and probate. For more information regarding Common Pleas Courts and what can happen (CLICK HERE).

  • General Division – this division can handle civil and criminal cases, which involve any and all felonies, as well as appeals from most administrative agencies.
  • Domestic Relations Division – this division hears divorces, dissolutions, child support and custody of children.
  • Juvenile Division – this division hears offenses involving minors, and most paternity actions
  • Probate Division – this division handles descendants’ estates, mental illnesses, adoptions, and marriage licenses.

Municipal Courts

Municipal courts handle misdemeanor offenses and traffic violations, civil actions, and they can also hold preliminary hearings in felony cases. Municipal courts have limited jurisdiction, but the limits vary by court. Some municipal courts have jurisdiction for the whole county while others have jurisdiction only within their corporate limits. For more information regarding Municipal Courts and what can happen (CLICK HERE).

Mayor’s Courts

Much like municipal courts, Mayor’s Courts handle alleged misdemeanor crimes and traffic violations within their corporate limits.

Rather than having a judge preside over these cases, these matters are overseen by either the mayor or a magistrate appointed by the mayor. These are not courts of record and alleged offenders cannot receive jury trials in Mayor’s Courts, but people can transfer their cases to municipal courts at any time before a trial or as part of an appeal.