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Felony Lawyers in Cleveland

Protecting Our Clients From Severe Penalties

All criminal charges are serious and can lead to severe penalties. Felony charges, however, are some of the most serious charges you can face in the criminal justice system. No matter what kind of felony charge you are facing, you could find yourself paying expensive fines, serving prison time, or going on probation. Convicted felons often have a hard time finding jobs and securing housing, as a felony conviction stays on your criminal record for life.

Fortunately, there are ways to fight felony charges and avoid these severe penalties with help from a Cleveland criminal defense attorney. If you are facing criminal charges, you need a criminal defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible. Our team will fight to protect your rights, creating a legal defense strategy to meet your needs.

At HMW Law, we have decades of combined experience serving clients in the Ohio area. Whether you are a first-time offender or you already have a criminal history, we are confident we can assist you. To learn more about our services and speak with a criminal defense attorney on our team, contact our law firm for a free consultation by calling 216-369-1352.

What’s the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

When you are charged with a crime, you will face either misdemeanor or felony charges. Understanding the key differences between these offenses will help guide you through your criminal defense case.

A misdemeanor is generally a lower-level offense that carries fewer penalties. Many misdemeanor offenders do not serve jail time, and they may only have to complete community service or other terms of probation if convicted.

Felony charges are more serious and often carry more penalties. Felony charges generally involve more than one year of prison time. Even first-time felony offenders often serve prison time, pay hefty fines, and go on parole. Convicted offenders will likely serve time in state prison rather than in county jail.

Felony offenses typically move through the court system faster than misdemeanor charges do. Because felony offenses are considered more severe, judges often seek the maximum penalties, especially for violent crimes. If you are facing felony charges, you need a Cleveland criminal defense lawyer on your side to fight for your rights.

What Are the Most Common Felony Charges in Ohio?

There are many types of felony offenses you can be charged with. Our criminal defense attorneys can help you with any felony charge you are facing, no matter what your criminal history is.

Common felony charges include:

Drug Crimes

Ohio is particularly harsh on drug-related crimes. Drug crimes can include possession of controlled substances, drug trafficking, and drug manufacturing. Drug crimes can lead to serious penalties, especially if you are found with a large amount of controlled substances.

Sex Crimes

Sexual offenses are taken very seriously under the law, and many sex crimes are felonies. Rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor can all lead to felony charges. Many judges seek the maximum penalties for sex crimes in Ohio.

Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence (DUI) is typically charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, if you are charged with a fourth DUI in ten years, your charges will automatically be upgraded to a felony. Felony DUI charges can lead to prison time, fines, and loss of your driving privileges.

Theft Crimes

Theft offenses are especially common in cities like Cleveland. Grand theft, theft, and aggravated theft can all be charged as felonies, especially if the property or services in question are worth more than $1,000.

Weapons Offenses

Every United States citizen has the right to bear arms. However, if you are found using a firearm illegally or unlawfully, you can be charged with a felony. Possession of a firearm in a school zone, unlawful possession of a concealed weapon, and carrying a weapon while under disability can lead to criminal charges. If convicted, you will be unable to buy or use firearms again.

Violent Crimes

Violent offenses include arson, domestic violence, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes carry serious penalties, including prison time. Our Cleveland criminal defense team can protect you from these harsh consequences after a violent crime charge.

What Are the Penalties for a Felony Offense?

The penalties for a felony conviction depend on the type of crime committed and the type of felony you are charged with. In Ohio, felonies are categorized by degree and carry different penalties.

Types of felonies and their penalties include:

  • First-degree felony: Three to 11 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines
  • Second-degree felony: Two to eight years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
  • Third-degree felony: Nine months to five years in prison, plus up to $10,000 in fines
  • Fourth-degree felony: Six to 18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines
  • Fifth-degree felony: Six to 12 months in prison and fines of up to $2,500
  • Murder: 15 years to life in prison and fines of up to $15,000
  • Aggravated murder: Life in prison or the death penalty plus fines of up to $25,000

If you serve your time and are let out of prison, you will likely have to complete parole. When you are on parole, you must check in with a parole officer often and maintain valid employment. If you are charged with a crime while on parole, you will likely face prison time again.

The consequences of a felony conviction can be severe. If you are facing criminal charges, you need a team of Cleveland criminal defense lawyers representing you in and out of court. To speak with a defense attorney about your case, contact our law office today.

What Are the Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction?

When you are convicted of a felony, fines and prison time are not the only penalties you will face. Convicted felons face many difficult consequences even after they are released from prison.

Common collateral consequences of a felony conviction include:

  • Difficulty finding and maintaining a job
  • Difficulty securing housing
  • Difficulty applying for educational institutions
  • Difficulty obtaining professional licenses or security clearance
  • Loss of child custody
  • Loss of voting rights while incarcerated
  • Loss of access to government assistance, like assisted housing or food stamps
  • Immigration issues
  • Inability to volunteer at schools or youth programs
  • Inability to hold public office or other government positions
  • Loss of gun ownership rights

Sex crimes also carry their own consequences after a conviction. If you are convicted of a sex offense, it is very likely you will have to register as a sex offender in Ohio. The sex offender registry list is open to the public, meaning anyone can look up your personal information and details about your case. Sex offenders must follow strict regulations that can include notifying parole officers before moving, not living near a school or childcare facility, and not stepping foot on a school campus.

All of these consequences make it difficult for convicted felons to continue living their lives as they normally would. A felony attorney on our team can help you reduce or remove the penalties you are facing. Hiring legal representation is essential if you are facing criminal charges in Ohio.

What is the Ohio Felony Sentencing Chart?

Every felony degree has a suggested minimum and maximum sentence. However, these guidelines do not determine your potential punishment. Instead, an Ohio judge will refer to the Felony Sentencing Table to determine the length of time you should be imprisoned.

The sentencing table takes your criminal history into account when determining your prison sentence. First-time offenders will face less prison time, while repeat offenders will face more prison time. Violent offenders may also face increased sentencing.

There are other factors that a judge will use to decide whether to give you a lower or higher sentence within the minimum and maximum bounds. These factors include:

  • Your offense involved bodily injury to another person.
  • You attempted or threatened to use physical harm against a person, and you have a prior conviction for causing physical harm
  • You attempted or threatened to cause harm with a deadly weapon
  • The offense was a sex crime
  • The offense was part of an organized crime ring
  • The offense was committed while you were under community control or out on bail or bond
  • You served previous prison time, or you were in prison at the time of the alleged offense
  • You committed the offense while in possession of a gun

If your offense involved any of the above factors, it is likely that you will face the maximum sentence for your conviction. A Cleveland criminal defense attorney on our team can argue in your defense, asking a judge to reduce your charges or your penalties. Our criminal defense team has years of experience in the Cleveland area, and we are confident we can get you the best possible outcome in your criminal case.

How Do You Defend Against Felony Charges?

Our Cleveland criminal defense attorneys will create a personalized criminal defense strategy based on the nature of your offense and your criminal record. Our team will spend time investigating your case, gathering evidence to present to the prosecution or a judge.

The main ways to defend against criminal charges include the following:


If you did not commit the crime and you have irrefutable evidence proving this, our team can claim that you are innocent. It is up to the prosecution to provide evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the protection cannot, we can say that you did not commit the criminal offense.


Another form of claiming innocence, providing an alibi, proves that you could not have committed the alleged offense. Providing evidence of your whereabouts when the crime was committed shows the prosecution and the judge that there is no physical way for you to have committed the crime. Surveillance footage, witness testimony, receipts, and other evidence can be used to support this.

Constitutional Violations

Individuals maintain their rights under the law even when they are accused of a crime. Illegal search and seizure, failure to obtain a warrant, or failure to read you your Miranda Rights all violate your rights. If law enforcement officers made a mistake when arresting or detaining you, our team could ask for a dismissal of your case or the suppression of certain pieces of evidence.


The law allows you to defend yourself when you believe your life or the lives of others are in danger. If you committed a violent crime but were doing so to protect yourself, our team will present evidence of the fact that you truly believed you could be hurt or lose your life. The amount of force used must be reasonable and proportionate to the amount of force used by the victim.

Defense of Property

In some cases, you could argue that you were defending your land or other items from damage or destruction. While the amount of force used could impact whether or not you can claim defense of property, the prosecution may be willing to reduce your charges if you can provide evidence of a threat to your land or items.

Involuntary Intoxication

The prosecution must prove intent to secure a guilty verdict. If you become intoxicated involuntarily, meaning you unknowingly ingested a substance that altered your state of mind, you can potentially use this as a defense strategy. For instance, if you committed a crime after your drink was spiked with drugs or after you ate something at a party that you did not realize contained drugs, you could claim this in your defense.

Voluntary Intoxication

While not as strong of a defense as involuntary intoxication, voluntary intoxication can be used to reduce your penalties. If you did not intend to commit the crime but did so because your state of mind was altered due to drugs or alcohol, you could claim that your lack of intent means the case against you is flawed.


When someone threatens to commit violence against you unless you commit a crime, you can claim a duress or coercion defense. Your charges may be reduced or dismissed by the prosecution if you can prove that you feared for your life or your safety unless you committed an illegal act.


If the alleged victim of the criminal offense consented to the act, you cannot be charged with a crime. For instance, if you are charged with a violent crime after a boxing match, you could claim that the other party consented to this fight. Therefore, you cannot be charged with the injuries they sustained.


Some individuals commit crimes due to necessity. For example, if you steal a vehicle to drive a wounded victim to the hospital, stealing the car is necessary to prevent the death of another person. The court is often lenient on offenders who choose to commit a crime out of necessity.

What Does a Felony Defense Lawyer Do?

Protecting your freedom and your future is impossible without a criminal defense lawyer. As your legal defense team, our attorneys will stand by your side, answering your questions and adjusting your legal strategy along the way.

Our criminal defense lawyers will also do the following:

  • Gather evidence to use in your defense case
  • Protect your constitutional rights
  • Conduct an independent investigation into the state’s evidence
  • Negotiate with the prosecution to reduce or remove your charges, if possible
  • Negotiate a plea deal
  • Represent you in court and argue on your behalf before a judge

With our Cleveland criminal law attorneys working for you, you can rest assured knowing that we are protecting your rights from day one. We can accompany you to police interviews, give you legal guidance, and answer any questions you may have throughout your case.

What Should You Do if You Are Charged With a Felony Offense?

Being charged with a felony offense is a stressful and overwhelming experience. The first thing you should do after being charged with a crime is to contact our team of criminal defense lawyers. The sooner you get in touch with us, the faster we can begin building your defense case and protecting your rights.

You should never talk to law enforcement officers without a defense attorney present. Law enforcement officers are there to build a case against you and secure a guilty verdict for the prosecution. Answering any questions, even innocent-seeming ones, can lead to your words being used against you in court.

Always remain calm when facing criminal charges, and remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. In every criminal case, the burden of proof is held by the prosecution, meaning they must do the work to collect evidence against you. With help from our Cleveland criminal defense team, you can defend yourself against these charges and protect your future.

Should You Contact a Felony Defense Lawyer?

Our Cleveland criminal defense lawyers understand how difficult it can be to navigate the criminal justice system. Our criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience representing clients who are facing felony charges. We are dedicated to advocating for our clients and resolving their cases as quickly as possible with as few disruptions to their lives as possible.

If you are feeling hopeless after a felony crime charge, reach out to our team immediately. We have handled a wide variety of defense cases, and there is no criminal charge too complex for us to assist with. Whether you are a first-time offender or you have a history of criminal convictions, we are confident we can get you the best possible outcome in your case.

HMW Law is a Cleveland criminal defense firm that provides focused and personalized legal representation. We will never use another client’s defense strategy for your case — instead, we will work with our team to create a unique defense strategy that’s right for you. As your criminal case evolves, we will continually adjust that strategy to get you the outcome you deserve.

Please don’t feel like you must navigate the criminal justice system on your own. To learn more about our services and to get a free consultation from a criminal defense lawyer, contact our team by calling 216-369-1352 today.