Whitehall Ohio Mayor’s Court - Criminal Defense Attorneys

ABOUT THE COURT

The Whitehall Mayor’s Court serves as the judicial branch of the City of Whitehall. The Mayor’s staff (Clerk of Court and Deputy Clerk of Court) also functions as the Violations Bureau, collecting payments for violations that do not require a court appearance.

Mayor’s Court is scheduled every Tuesday. Cases are heard as follows:
8:00 am: Traffic arraignments
8:30 am: Sentence reviews
9:00 am: Criminal arraignments
9:30 am: Pretrials
10:00 am: Hispanic arraignments
10:30 am: Prisoner arraignments
11:00 am: Trials, second Tuesday of each month

Check-in begins at 7:50 am in the courtroom clerk’s office. Defendants have the opportunity to speak with a prosecutor before their case is heard in open court.

Parking is located on the north and south sides of the building and across the street in the lot south of the Whitehall Police Department marked Municipal Building.

Whitehall Mayor’s Court
Mayor’s Court & Clerk of Court Office
360 S. Yearling Road
Whitehall, OH 43213

Clerk of Court: Duana Bolman
Phone: (614) 338-3106
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30 am to 4:45 pm

Whitehall Mayors Court Website: http://www.whitehall-oh.us/index.aspx?nid=143

TYPES OF CASES

The Court has jurisdiction over misdemeanor and traffic violations filed under the jurisdiction of the Whitehall Division of Police. Exceptions include: second offense driving under the influence (DUI), second offense driving while under DUI suspension and domestic violence cases.

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

COURT PROCEDURE

Whitehall Mayor’s Court wants to defendants to be prepared for the formality of these proceedings.

*          Appearance & Conduct Rules

  • Do not be late for court. For first appearance defendants, your court date and time is noted on your citation.
  • Check in with the Clerk of Court’s Office located at the rear of the courtroom. Bring your citation and picture ID.
  • Continuance of court date is granted in court, on your court date, by completing a waiver form; $20 is charged for each continuance.
  • If you miss your initial court date, your case will be reset for the next scheduled court date. A $20 penalty will be added to your fine and costs. If you miss the rescheduled court date a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest and a block against your license will be filed with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
  • Exception: Defendants charged with operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) must appear on the initial court date. Failure to appear will result in a warrant.
  • If you are unable to pay your fine and costs in full on the day of court, you will be given time to pay, however we do ask that you pay at least $50 on your court day. Failure to adhere to the payment agreement can result in a warrant for your arrest and a block against your license.
  • Proper clothing is required (no shorts, tank tops, or halter tops). Hats and sunglasses are to be removed before entering the courtroom.
  • Use of cell phones, pagers, or any other electronic device is prohibited. Cell phones are to be turned off.
  • Foul or abusive language is prohibited. Please refrain from talking, unless when necessary for court proceedings.
  • Food and drinks are prohibited in the courtroom.

*          Trial Day Procedure

Check in at your scheduled time. Failure to appear could cost you additional court costs and the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.  Once you have checked in, your case will be placed on a list of cases that will be heard that day. Be prepared to spend as much as a few hours at court. While the court tries to move its docket expeditiously, there is no is way to precisely predict the length of each trial.

*          Summons

In most cases against a person charged with a traffic or criminal offense in the Whitehall Mayor’s Court, a summons is issued requiring them to appear before the Magistrate in Court on a particular Tuesday.  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 Whitehall City Code Ordinances is known as the arraignment. 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 Whitehall Mayor’s Court has a right to transfer their case from the Whitehall Mayor’s Court at any time while the case is pending. Whitehall, Ohio, is in Franklin County.  If a person elects to have their case transferred, it will be transferred to Franklin County Municipal Court.

The decision to transfer a case from the Whitehall 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 courts throughout Ohio, such as the Whitehall 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 Whitehall 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 Whitehall 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 Whitehall 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 an individual 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.