Ohio classifies felony offenses into five categories: first, second, third, fourth, and fifth degree felonies. First-degree felonies are the most serious category, while fifth-degree felonies are the least serious.
Additionally, Ohio has a number of felony offenses that are not identified by degree.
For information on Ohio misdemeanors, see Ohio Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Sentence Range for Each Level
Anyone convicted of an Ohio felony faces a sentence commensurate with the degree of the felony involved. Each felony category has a sentence range:
- First-degree felony: 3 to 11 years in prison
- Second-degree felony: 2 to 8 years in prison
- Third-degree felony: 9 months to 5 years in prison
- Fourth degree felony: 6 to 18 months in prison
- Fifth degree felony: 6 to 12 months in prison
Murder and aggravated murder, the two most serious felonies in Ohio, are not categorized by degree. Instead, the law allows for specific penalties for both of these crimes. For someone convicted of aggravated murder, the potential penalty ranges from death to life with the possibility of parole after 20 years. For someone convicted of murder, the possible sentence ranges from 15 years in prison to life in prison without parole.
Ohio also imposes mandatory prison terms in some felony cases. Such cases include aggravated murder, murder, rape or attempted rape of a child under the age of 13, some sexual offenses, possession of a firearm during felony, and others. In such cases, a court must impose a specific penalty or penalty range.
For example, someone convicted of aggravated murder must serve at least 20 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole; while someone who uses, displays, or brandishes a firearm during the commission of certain crimes faces a mandatory minimum of three years in prison.
In addition to, or separate from, a prison sentence, someone convicted of a felony offense in Ohio can also be sentenced to pay a fine. Like incarceration sentences, fines differ depending upon the degree of the felony convicted. The maximum amounts are:
- First-degree felony: $20,000
- Second-degree felony: $15,000
- Third-degree felony: $10,000
- Fourth degree felony: $5,000
- Fifth degree felony: $2,500
Additionally, someone convicted of murder faces a maximum fine of $15,000, while someone convicted of aggravated murder faces a maximum fine of $25,000.
Examples of Crimes in Each Level
The following list of felony offenses is only a small sample of all felonies identified in Ohio law.
- Aggravated murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Illegally manufacturing or processing explosives
- Soliciting prostitution after a positive HIV test
- Reckless homicide
- Theft of anhydrous ammonia
Fourth degree felony
- Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor
- Grand theft of a motor vehicle
Fifth degree felony
- Compelling acceptance of objectionable materials
- Breaking and entering
Statute of Limitations
If prosecutors want to charge someone in Ohio with a crime, they must first make sure that the legal time limit has not expired. This time limit, known as a statute of limitations, gives prosecutors a limited amount of time in which to file criminal charges. If the time allowed under the statute of limitations has lapsed, prosecutors cannot file charges in that case.
While there is no statute of limitations for murders committed in Ohio, other felonies have a 20, six, or five-year statute of limitations. For a more in-depth explanation of the time limits for felony and misdemeanor offenses, read Ohio Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Talk to an Attorney in Ohio
A felony charge is nothing to take lightly. If you suspect you are being investigated for a felony in Ohio, or have already been charged, you must consult with an experienced local defense attorney as soon as possible. Your ability to defend yourself against the charges depends on receiving advice from an attorney who not only understands Ohio law, but who also has experience representing criminal clients in area courts. If you make a decision about your case without first consulting an experienced lawyer, you could damage your chances of presenting the best possible legal defense.