Cleveland Criminal Defense Lawyer Frequently Asked Questions

Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney FAQ

When you or someone you love are facing criminal charges, it’s natural to have some concerns. You may have questions about your rights, about what you should and shouldn’t do, and how to take the first step. At the Law Offices of Craig Weintraub we focus on providing our clients with information and guidance they need.

Very few people have experience with the criminal justice system, unless they practice or enforce the law. Feeling overwhelmed and scared is natural if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Below is a very basic outline of the government’s process for controlling crime and imposing penalties on those who break the law. The law system is incredibly complex and includes many variables, based on the severity of the offense, if the accused is an adult or juvenile, and which state you reside in. Every case is unique; only an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney can advise and guide you through the legal process to ensure the best outcome.

Step 1: Entry into the system

  • Law enforcement receives a report of the crime
  • Law enforcement investigates the crime, identifies a suspect, and collects evidence against the suspect.
  • If there is enough evidence to implicate someone, they may arrest the suspect or issue a citation to appear in court later.

Step 2: Pre-trial

  • A prosecutor collects the evidence from law enforcement and decides whether to file written charges or release the accused without prosecution.
  • If files are charged, the accused will appear in court to be informed of the charges against them. A judge decides whether there is enough evidence to charge or release the accused. If the accused does not have a defense attorney, one will be appointed to them.
  • Bail or bond? At the initial court appearance, the judge may decide to hold the accused in jail or release him on bail, bond, or on his own recognizance.
  • In Ohio, the accused has the right to have a felony case be considered by a grand jury. The grand jury hears evidence presented by the prosecution without the defense present or participating. Then, grand jurors vote to determine whether a bill indictment should be returned, thereby formally charging someone with a felony offense.
  • Arraignment: The defendant is brought before a judge to be informed of the charges against them and their rights. The defendant can then plead guilty, not guilty, or no content, which means they accept the penalty for the crime without admitting guilt. If the defendant pleads guilty, no contest, or has negotiated a plea agreement, a trial is not held and the defendant is sentenced. If they plead not guilty, a date is set for the trial.

Step 3: Trial 

There are two kinds of trials. A bench trial is held before a judge only. A jury trial is held before a judge and a jury. This depends on how serious the crime is. During the trial, prosecutors and attorneys will present evidence and question witnesses. Then the judge or the jury finds the defendant guilty or not guilty. If found not guilty, the defendant is released; if found guilty, a later date is set for sentencing.

Step 4: Post trial 

Sentencing: At a hearing, the judge decides the offender’s sentence. This may include restitution (paying the victim), paying court fines, probation, or jail.

Appeals: If convicted by a jury, an individual can pursue an appeals process that may involve seeking a new trial or petitioning to overturn a sentence.

The role of police and other law enforcement is to respond to and take reports on crimes that are committed within their jurisdictions. It is the role of the officers to investigate crimes, gather and protect evidence, arrest offenders, and testify for prosecution in court.

Prosecutors are lawyers who represent the State and Federal governments in court. They review evidence given to them by law enforcement and decide whether there is enough evidence to file criminal charges against someone, or if the case should be dropped. In court, they present evidence, question witnesses, and decide whether or not to negotiate plea deals with defendants.

The defense attorney defends the accused. They are usually hired by defendants but if the defendant cannot afford one, the court appoints one for them, which is called a public defender. A good defense attorney ensures that is afforded all the protections granted to them by the U.S. Constitution and laws.

Courts are run by judges who are responsible for upholding the law. They decide whether to release someone prior to a trial, accept or reject plea agreements, and sentence offenders if they are convicted.

The United States Constitution guarantees a set of rights for when a person is arrested. These are called Miranda Rights or the Miranda warning. Before officers arrest and question you, they must state:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say may be used against you.
  • You have the right to have a lawyer with you when you are questioned.
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one for you.

You can be questioned by the police without a defense attorney present if, and only if, you knowingly and willingly give up your rights. If you agree to be questioned alone, and then change your mind, the questioning must stop as soon as you request a lawyer.

If you feel that during the arrest or questioning that your civil rights were violated, a criminal defense attorney can fight for any statements you made to the police to be thrown out.

There is a major difference between being charged for a misdemeanor and being charged for a felony. Whether it is classified as a misdemeanor or felony depends on the severity of the offense, as well as other extenuating factors. In Ohio, felony charges carry a minimum sentence of one year in prison and steep fines; the most serious misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail, rather than prison.

Jails are facilities that are used for short-term sentences and hold defendants as they await trial or offenders who have been convicted of misdemeanors. They are operated by local governments. Prisons are used for long-term sentences of offenders who are convicted of felonies. They are operated by state and federal governments.

A plea agreement means that the defendant has agreed to plead guilty to one or more charges in exchange for:

  • The dismissal of one or more charges
  • The lesser degree of the charged offense
  • A lenient sentence
  • Avoiding a trial

Probation and parole are both alternatives to incarceration. Probation occurs prior to or in lieu of jail, while parole is an early release for prison. Both require court supervision and strict adherence to specific conditions. If the terms of parole or probation are broken, the offender can be incarcerated.

Laws differ from state to state. The current Ohio Revised Code can be accessed online at Because Ohio’s laws are complex, it is highly recommended that you seek out a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if you are arrested.

As soon as possible. You should seek out the advice of an experienced defense attorney whenever you are in legal trouble, and should do so as soon as possible. Even if you have not been arrested for a crime, if you are being questioned by police, it is still advisable to have a lawyer by your side. An experienced attorney can inform you of your rights and prevent you from accidentally incriminating yourself or someone you care about. If you are facing charges, a lawyer is also needed to help you navigate the confusing bail process, as well as building a strong defense for you as soon as possible.

“Attorney-client privilege” means that your defense attorney cannot tell anyone else what you have told them. Anything you discuss with your lawyer is confidential and cannot be used against you. You can be completely honest with your lawyer as you seek legal counsel.

If this is the first time you are looking for a defense attorney, you may be very overwhelmed by the number of firms and trying to find the best fit for you. Your ideal criminal defense attorney should have the following qualities:

  • Experience: A firm that has won many similar cases and has expertise in Ohio and federal laws due to their years of legal service.
  • Trustworthiness: Someone who is honest and direct about what you are facing and the best strategy to protect you.
  • Excellence: a practice that is recognized by peers and clients for meeting high professional standards
  • Passion: an attorney that is dedicated to protecting the rights of each and every client.
  • Integrity: A lawyer who demonstrates integrity in both personal and professional spheres
  • Resourcefulness: a firm that has the time, resources, and drive to fully devote to your case
  • Innovation: A team that thinks outside the box when working on your case by conducting their own research and consulting experts outside of the firm.
  • Compassion: An attorney that understands the difficult and overwhelming emotions that come with being charged, and guides you through the process with sensitivity and understanding, while also keeping you and your family informed along the way.

Craig Weintraub has been helping the accused in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio seek justice for over 30 years. Because of this, they have a reputation for some of the best litigators in the area. This firm has won a wide variety of cases at both the state and federal levels.

He has aggressively fought for clients and has earned a reputation as a very respected, prepared, and strong defense attorney. He has represented thousands of clients including celebrities, companies, and politicians successfully, which the testimonials page can support. If you need a strong, aggressive, thorough defense, call Weintraub Law Offices.

For more information about our aggressive criminal defense tactics, visit the Our firm page or contact us today.

If you already plan to plead guilty or are dealing with a misdemeanor offense, you may think you don’t need a defense attorney at all. However, this is not a good idea. Law enforcement, prosecutors, and the court can and will use all their resources against you. This can easily caus a violation of your rights, overly harsh sentencing, or a criminal record that can have a lasting impact on you. Hiring a defense attorney is worth the cost when considering how a harsh sentence or criminal record can impact your future personal and professional life. To learn more about how a defense attorney can help you, contact us for a free consultation.

If something was overlooked in your trial, or you had ineffective counsel, Weintraub Law Offices may be able to help you. Our experienced, aggressive Cleveland defense attorneys can help you even after conviction by pursuing appeals and post-conviction relief. We will go through the details of your original case meticulously and thoroughly, and conduct our own investigation to find more evidence that may exonerate you. We can also file petitions and help you with expungement, which means erasing your criminal record. Contact us for free legal advice, even if you think you have no options left.

We can offer free legal counsel regarding the specific details of your case in person. Visit the Contact Us page to schedule a free consultation.