Our criminal lawyers frequently represent individuals who face criminal misdemeanor charges as well as DUI, OVI, and traffic charges in Ohio’s mayor’s courts. Ohio is one of only two states with a mayor’s court system.
Ohio has 297 mayor’s courts that operate in 64 of the state’s 88 counties. These unique state courts are created by various municipalities in Ohio including Monroe and Trenton in Butler County. Additionally, Hamilton County has mayor’s courts in Amberley, Arlington Heights, Blue Ash, Cheviot, Cleves, Fairfax, Forest Park, Golf Manor, Harrison, Indian Hill, Madeira, Montgomery, Mount Healthy, Newtown, North College Hill, Norwood, Reading, Sharonville, Silverton, Springdale, Saint Bernard, Terrace Park, and Wyoming.
Each mayor’s court in Ohio has a distinct code of ordinances. Cases are heard by either the area’s mayor or a mayor-appointed magistrate. If a magistrate is appointed to hear cases in a mayor’s court, the magistrate must be a lawyer. Under Ohio law, however, mayors are not required to be lawyers, and mayors are not required to satisfy any educational requirements to hear cases.
While many Ohio courts follow strict state laws and regulations, there are few laws in Ohio regarding the operation of mayor’s courts. Instead, judges in Ohio’s mayor’s courts follow guidelines established by the Supreme Court of Ohio. Ohio’s state legislature also passes laws to make sure that mayor’s courts operate in a fair manner, but coordination of matters among the legislature can result in difficulties.
Mayor’s courts are not courts of record, which means that the court does not utilize a stenographer or any audio or video recording to document what occurs in the court. This is significant because records are frequently used to establish that individuals receive a fair and unbiased hearing. If a person is charged with a DUI in a mayor’s court, that individual can choose to have a case transferred to County Municipal Court. Some individuals, however, decide to have a case heard in the mayor’s court because these courts are often more informal and have more convenient hours.
Several common problems can arise in the mayor’s court. First, mayors and appointed magistrates frequently hear cases at a rapid pace, which means that you might not be given sufficient consideration if you plead not guilty. Second, the court will not appoint an attorney like in other courts, which means that unless you retain legal representation, there is not anyone to advise you about how to best navigate the process. Also, in many cases, individuals are not assessed in regard to their ability to pay tickets, which means that you might end up facing fines that you cannot afford to pay.
Contact the criminal attorneys at Kruger & Hodges today to discuss whether it is better to have your case heard in mayor’s court or to transfer your case to a municipal court. Our criminal lawyers have guided many people through this process and know how to collect information about your case and review potential weaknesses. We will remain committed to fighting for you throughout the process. Contact our law office today to obtain the assistance that you need.