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Felony

 

Municipal Division

 

The Municipal Division of the Cuyahoga County Public Defender provides representation in Cleveland Municipal Court for all persons who are unable to afford an attorney and are charged with a misdemeanor that carries the possibility of going to jail. Our attorneys also handle specialized Municipal Court dockets including Community Court, Domestic Violence Court, Drug Court, Human Trafficking Court, Mental Health Court, and Veteran’s Court. The Office’s goal is to protect the fundamental rights, liberties, and dignity of each of our clients.


The Municipal Division consists of 16 experienced attorneys and a dedicated support staff. Dave Magee supervises the Division. Mr. Magee has worked as Public Defender for more than 25 years and has a broad base of experience in three different trial courts in Cuyahoga County. After spending four years in the Juvenile Division, Mr. Magee handled serious felony trial cases for more than 20 years. In 2017, Mr. Magee became the Director of the Office’s Municipal Division.


The Municipal Division is located at 310 Lakeside Avenue, Suite 200, Cleveland Ohio, 44113. If you are a current client with questions, please contact your attorney. If you are seeking representation, please call (216) 443-2190



What to Expect


You can find information about your case here.


You do not have to wait for a judge to assign you to public defender. If you are unable to afford an attorney and are charged with a misdemeanor that carries the possibility of a jail sentence, you are eligible for an attorney from our Office. You do not need to decide for yourself if you are eligible, just contact us.


Because our Office is not open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can get an attorney by contacting (216) 443-2190 or by completing a municipal intake form. Click here for english and here for español. After an intake specialist gets your basic information, you will be contacted by an attorney within 24-48 hours.


The sooner you contact our Office, the sooner we can assist with your case.


Types of cases that we do NOT handle because they do not carry the possibility of a jail sentence:

  • Minor misdemeanor offenses (e.g. speeding, littering, etc.)
  • Parking tickets

Contact our Office immediately after being charged. If you must appear at arraignment, an attorney from our Office will appear with you to enter a plea of Not Guilty. The Court will then schedule a pretrial hearing, where we will meet with the prosecutor on your behalf to demand evidence and discuss the case.

 

If you fail to appear for court or violate any other conditions set by the judge, a warrant may issue for your arrest and you may be subject to arrest.


Bond


In the majority of misdemeanor cases, the Municipal Court will not require you to post a financial bond. A financial bond is uncommon unless you have been arrested on a more serious case (e.g. domestic violence).


If a bond is set in your case, it must be posted in person at the third floor of Justice Center in the Cleveland Municipal Clerk of Courts Office. Family and friends who are going to post a bond on your behalf will need proper photo identification and must pay with cash or credit card (no personal checks). Bonds can be posted 24 hours a day.


If you appear for court and comply with the conditions of release, the entire amount posted (with the exception of processing fees) will be returned to the person who posted the bond. If you fail to appear, the bond may be increased or forfeited.


If you cannot afford to post the bond yourself, you can contact the Bail Project, a non-profit organization that provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals. If they are able to assist you, the Bail Project will post your bond and provide other support (e.g. court reminders) to help you make your court dates. The Bail Project can be reached at 216-223-8708.


Conditions of Pre-Trial Release


Instead of or in addition to requiring the posting of a bond, the judge may also impose non-financial conditions of release including, but not limited to, restrictions on travel, house arrest, electronic monitoring. The failure to comply with any court-ordered conditions of release could subject you to arrest and a possible increase in the amount of bond or the conditions of your release.


Two common conditions of release in more serious misdemeanor cases include:


  • No Contact Order: In cases where there is an alleged victim, the arraignment judge will often order that you have “no contact” with the alleged victim as a condition of your release. If a “no contact” order is issued, it will be enforced. Violation of no contact orders could result in the forfeiture of your bond and possible arrest. In addition, some violations are charged as a new criminal offense, contempt of court, that carries the possibility of additional jail time.

  • Electronic Monitoring: Also in cases where there is an alleged victim, you may be placed on electronic monitoring to ensure that you do not enter an “exclusion zone” – normally an area around the residence of the victim. If electronic monitoring is required, it will be enforced. Judges are very involved in the supervision of electronic monitoring. If you enter an exclusion zone, tamper with the monitor, or fail to ensure the device is charged, the Court will be notified and may revoke your bond and place you in jail.

After arraignment, your next appearance is called a “pretrial hearing,” where an attorney from our Office will appear with you in front of the Judge and formally request evidence from the Prosecutor. Depending on the Judge, your pretrial may be held remotely using Zoom, saving you a trip to the Justice Center. In most cases there will be multiple pretrial hearings before the case is resolved – either by plea or trial.


You should be early or on time for all court appearances. If you fail to appear, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

 

Communicating With Inmates


There are several ways to communicate and support loved ones who are incarcerated in Cuyahoga County Jail. Family and friends can write letters, call, place money on a commissary account, visit, and video chat with inmates.*


*ALL COMMUNICATIONS WITH INMATES IN THE CUYAHOGA COUNTY JAIL ARE MONITORED AND RECORDED. Never discuss details of a case with anyone other than your attorney. Never discuss details about a case with an inmate who is in Cuyahoga County Jail or with anyone over the phone. Never include details about your case in a letter because incoming and outgoing mail may be monitored.


Information on how to contact inmates can be found at the following sites:

 

The Case Is Over, Now What?


If issues arise after your case is complete, please contact your attorney or call (216) 443-2190. Some common issues include the following:


If you are convicted after a trial or otherwise are concerned about how your case is resolved, you have the right to file an appeal to the Eighth District Court of Appeals. You should discuss the possibility of an appeal with your attorney. A timely appeal must be filed within 30 days of your sentencing.


If you wish to appeal, please advise your attorney or call our Appellate Division at (216) 443-7583. Depending on the circumstances, our Office may be able to handle your appeal or, at a minimum, ensure that it gets filed timely and new counsel is appointed to represent you.

 

If you were placed on probation (or community control), you must comply with the conditions of probation or could be subjected to further conditions and/or jail time. If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation, our Office will represent you at the violation hearing. As the Court could impose jail time for a violation, it is important that you contact us at (216) 443-2190 as soon as you are notified of an alleged violation.

 

Our office generally does not represent individuals who are seeking to seal misdemeanor arrests or convictions in Cleveland Municipal Court. If you have questions about eligibility, however, your attorney will answer those questions for you.


Cleveland Municipal Court has a record sealing form that you can file on your own to get your record sealed. If you are seeking to seal a conviction, you must wait at least one year until after you have completed your sentence (including the payment of any fines or restitution). Dismissed cases or cases in which you have been found not guilty can be sealed at any time.


The following misdemeanor convictions can NEVER be sealed:

  • Aggravated menacing
  • Disseminating, displaying, or deception to obtain matter harmful to juveniles (where the victim is under 18)
  • Domestic violence (except M4)
  • Menacing (except M4)
  • Menacing by stalking
  • OVI
  • Procuring (where the victim is under 18)
  • Public indecency (where the victim is under 18)
  • Sexual imposition
  • Voyeurism (if the victim is under 18)
  • Any offense where the victim was under 16 (except criminal non-support)
  • Traffic Offenses

Although our Office does not handle misdemeanor cases in other Municipal Courts, you are still entitled to have an attorney appointed if you are facing the possibility of a jail sentence. You can orally request an attorney at your first appearance in that Municipal Court. Before appointing an attorney, the Court may ask you questions about your financial situation to establish that you cannot afford an attorney.