What Is a 4th Degree Misdemeanor in Ohio?

By Bernadette A. Safrath
Fourth-degree misdemeanors, fines, a short jail sentence
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Petty criminal offenses are called misdemeanors. There are several degrees depending on the severity of a crime. In Ohio, misdemeanors range from first degree to criminal minor. Fourth-degree offenses are only one step above criminal minor misdemeanors and offenders are subject to minimal punishment.

Criminal Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by no more than one year in jail and a fine. Ohio has an extensive list of crimes that can be charged as misdemeanors, depending upon the severity. They include assault, prostitution, arson, trespass, theft, fraud, gambling, riot, child endangerment, carrying a concealed weapon, illegal sale of cigarettes to minors, driving with a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Fourth Degree Misdemeanors

In Ohio, a fourth-degree misdemeanor is the second-lowest level crime charged. The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees that an offender has the right to a speedy trial. In Ohio, a person charged with a fourth degree misdemeanor must be tried with 45 days.

Jail Time, Fines and Restitution

At the end of a trial, if the defendant is found guilty of a fourth-degree misdemeanor, a judge can impose several different penalties. The judge can order a jail sentence of up to 30 days in jail. In addition to or instead of a jail sentence, the judge can also require the defendant to pay a fine. For fourth-degree misdemeanors in Ohio, the maximum fine permitted is $250. Depending upon the crime, a judge can also require the defendant to pay restitution to a victim. For example, if a victim suffered property damage, he can submit a receipt for repair to the judge and the judge will order the defendant to pay restitution in that amount to the victim.

Purpose of Misdemeanor Punishment

The purpose of jail time, fines and restitution for fourth degree misdemeanors is deter others from committing the same offense and to punish the defendant for his illegal conduct.

Determining the Sentence

A court looks at several factors to determine the appropriate sentence when a defendant has been found guilty of a fourth degree misdemeanor in Ohio. They include the defendant's criminal history, including the likelihood that the defendant will become a repeat offender; the defendant's character, including a pattern of aggressive behavior and whether that defendant will be a danger to others; and the circumstances of the particular offense for which the defendant was just found guilty.

About the Author

Bernadette A. Safrath is an attorney who has been writing professionally since 2008. Safrath was published in Touro Law Center's law review and now writes legal articles for various websites. Safrath has a Bachelor of Arts in music from Long Island University at C.W. Post, as well as a Juris Doctor from Touro College.