Westerville, Ohio Mayor’s Court - Criminal and DUI Offense Attorney

ABOUT THE COURT

The Westerville Mayor’s Court is a community court located in the city of Westerville, Ohio.  Misdemeanor traffic and criminal cases are filed against first time offenders for alleged violations under the Westerville City Code Ordinances. The court operates every Wednesday morning beginning at 9:00 a.m., and is located at:

21 S. State Street
Westerville, Ohio 43081
Tel:  (614) 901-6419
Fax: (614) 776-6045
Mayors Court Website:  http://ftp.westerville.org/index.aspx?page=120

TYPES OF CASES

The Court has jurisdiction over misdemeanor and traffic violations filed under the Westerville City Code Ordinances.  The following are examples of charges that are frequently filed in the Westerville Mayor’s Court:

  • OVI / DUI
  • Hit and Run
  • Driving Under Suspension
  • Operating a Vehicle Without a License
  • Reckless Operation
  • Speeding Offenses
  • Accident Related Offenses
  • Theft
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Assault
  • Domestic Violence

COURT PROCEDURE

*          Summons

In most cases the individual charged with a traffic or criminal offense in the Westerville Mayor’s Court will be issued a summons requiring them to appear before the Magistrate in Court on a particular Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.  In some cases, however, the severity of the case or other circumstances merit an arrest or a warrant to issue for the person’s appearance in court.

*          Arraignment

The initial court appearance for a traffic or criminal offense charged under the Westerville City Code Ordinances is known as the arraignment.  Arraignments are held there on Wednesday mornings at 9:00 a.m.  An arraignment is often a person’s first court appearance after having been charged.  The purpose of the arraignment is to advise the person of the nature of the offense with which they are charged and to allow that person to enter an official plea to the charge.  The other purpose of the arraignment is to allow the magistrate to set a reasonable bond in the case.  Normally, if an individual is summoned into court and appears to answer to the charge, they will be released on their own signature and promise to appear at all future court dates.  This is known as a recognizance bond.

At the arraignment, a person may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.  The court also allows individuals to request a brief continuance for a period of time with which to seek legal counsel in the defense of their case.

*          Discovery

At the arraignment every individual has the right to request discovery in the case.  Discovery is all of the evidence that the government has in its possession and that it intends to use in the prosecution of the case.  Discoverable documents can include, but are not limited to, police reports, witness statements, photographs, and video recordings from police cruisers.

*          Driving Privileges

In many cases filed in mayor’s courts, people are charged with offenses that can carry the possibility of a mandatory driver’s license suspension.  In some cases, such as OVI offenses, a person appears in court for the first time with their license having been seized by police and their driving rights having been suspended.  A person’s first appearance in mayor’s court can be an opportunity to have driver’s rights restored or obtain limited driving privileges.  Losing driving privileges in Ohio can be devastating to a person’s well being and their ability to earn a living.

*          Pretrial Hearing

Unless the case is transferred to a municipal court as set forth below, the case will be set for a pretrial hearing, at which a plea offer is often made and the case will either resolve with a plea or will be set for trial.

CASE TRANSFER

A person whose case is filed in the Westerville Mayor’s Court has a right to transfer their case from the Westerville Mayor’s Court at any time while their case is pending.  The City of Westerville, Ohio, sits partially in Delaware County and partially in Franklin County.  If a person elects to have their case transferred, it will be transferred to either the Delaware County Municipal Court or the Franklin County Municipal Court, depending on where the alleged offense occurred.

The decision to transfer a case from the Westerville Mayor’s Court into a municipal court is a personal decision and should not be made without understanding the full repercussions of transferring the case.  In general, mayor’s court’s throughout Ohio, such as the Westerville Mayor’s Court, are often more flexible in sentencing.  Another benefit to keeping a case in a mayor’s court is that it is less likely to be discovered during a public record search than those cases in municipal courts because most people who conduct record searches will check major metropolitan municipal courts far more frequently than outlying mayor’s courts.

The decision to transfer a case from a mayor’s court into a municipal court is not a decision that should be made lightly or without the input of an experienced attorney.

TRIALS

Every person charged in the Westerville Mayor’s Court has the right to a trial; however, jury trials are not held there.  That is because under the Ohio Revised Code, mayor’s courts are not considered to be “courts of record.” The Magistrate will hear all trials in the Westerville Mayor’s Court.  In order to have a jury trial, the case will need to be transferred to a municipal court. Although mayor’s courts are not considered to be “courts of record,” this does not mean that the Westerville Mayor’s Court lacks the authority to hear trials and sentence offenders.  Convictions there that are not appealed are recognized in Ohio the same as convictions in all other courts.

APPEALS

Because mayor’s courts are not “courts of records,” the Ohio Revised Code provides that individuals who are convicted of a traffic or criminal offense have the right to appeal the decision in the mayor’s court within 10 days directly to the county municipal court.  Once appealed to a municipal court, a judge in the municipal court hears the case as if the conviction never happened.  Appealing a conviction to a municipal court from a mayor’s court essentially gives a person two opportunities to have their case heard.

EXPERIENCE MATTERS

Attorney Michael Probst has 15 years of experience handling traffic, criminal and OVI cases throughout Ohio.  He has significant experience handling numerous cases in many different mayor’s courts throughout Columbus and in other cities throughout Ohio.  His experience includes handling trials in mayor’s courts, as well as the transfer of cases from mayor’s courts into county municipal courts.