Criminal/Traffic Division

When the City or the State charges an adult with a crime or traffic offense in Cleveland Heights, that case comes before the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court. The Court handles misdemeanor offenses (where the maximum penalty is generally up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine). It also handles initial appearances and preliminary hearings in felony cases. The Court does not hear cases involving persons under 18 years of age who are charged with acts that would be crimes if committed by an adult.

I was given a ticket for driving with a suspended license, what can I do?
As with all criminal and traffic cases, you are innocent until proven guilty. However, if you acknowledge you were in the wrong, the Court has a program that allows you to take steps to get valid and then return to Court and plea to amended charges that will not further hinder your ability to drive. You can find out the requirements to get your license reinstated by entering your personal information at the Ohio BMV website. If you are interested in taking advantage of this program, you must appear at your initial court date.

If I cannot afford to pay all my fines and costs, can I go on a payment plan?
While there is a charge to set up a payment agreement, after you appear in court, you may make arrangements to determine whether or not you can be put on a payment or installment schedule.

How do I apply for a court appointed attorney?
If you have been charged with an offense where jail may be imposed, and you are unable to pay for an attorney, an attorney can be assigned to represent you. When you appear in court and request an attorney, the Court will determine if you are indigent and appoint you an attorney. A non-refundable $25.00 is charged for filling out the application, but no other costs will be charged to you.

Do I have to have a lawyer?
You are constitutionally guaranteed the right to represent yourself in Court. You cannot, however, represent another person or business entity, unless you are an attorney.
Be advised that if you choose to represent yourself, you are responsible for the full knowledge of the law and will be expected to present yourself and your case within the Rules established by the Court and the law. Staff in the Clerk’s Office cannot give you legal advice, and the Judges and Magistrates cannot give you legal advice. If you have questions, you should consult an attorney.
If you have been charged with a crime for which the possible penalties include jail, and you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for a court appointed attorney.

I am scheduled for a pretrial, what does that mean?
A pretrial is the opportunity for your case to be discussed with the prosecutor representing the community that has filed the case against you. It also may include the involvement of either the Judge assigned to the case or a Magistrate. These are scheduled by the Court, and you will receive a written notice of the date and time of that pretrial. If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney can explain to you the pretrial process. If you are not represented by an attorney then the prosecutor will discuss the case with you to see if the case can be resolved prior to a trial. Pretrial discussions may include a plea bargain, in which the prosecutor may propose a resolution of the case prior to a trial with some form of a plea resolution that may include being convicted of some cases and dismissing or amendment of the charges. If a plea bargain is agreed upon, then the case is referred to the Judge or Magistrate for disposition. If an acceptable plea bargain cannot be negotiated, or the case cannot otherwise be resolved, the case will then be scheduled for a trial.

I missed by court date and a warrant has been issued for my arrest – what should I do now?
If you are represented by an attorney, he or she should be contacted immediately to discuss your options. If you are not represented by counsel, you should report to the Court immediately.

My relative/friend was arrested and I posted a bond for his/her release. When will I get my money back?
First, you should be aware that the purpose of any bond is to guarantee that the defendant will make all scheduled court appearances. If the defendant fails to appear at court appearances, you may not get the bond money back. The return of your bond money depends on what type of bond you posted, and when the case is concluded. If you posted a surety bond by using a bail bondsman, you will not get that money back. If you posted a cash bond with the Court, your money will be returned at the absolute end of the case, if the defendant made all court appearances. You will need to present your receipt to the cashier after the defendant is sentenced and any other outstanding costs have been paid.

How many points will be assessed to my license for a traffic violation?
Most moving traffic violations carry a penalty of two (2) points. Moving violations include such offenses as speeding, running a red light, improper lane change, and improper turn. Some violations carry a higher point potential. These include driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving under suspension, reckless operation, and drag racing. These violations can carry anywhere from four (4) to six (6) points. Non moving violations such as equipment, license, and seat belts usually are considered zero (0) point violations.

When I pay court costs, where do they go?
On a moving violation, other than seatbelt and pedestrian violations, $3.50 is split, 3% to Justice Program Services and $97% to the Drug Law Enforcement Fund; $25 goes to the Indigent Defense Support Fund; $9 goes to Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund; $5 goes to the Sheriff for a law enforcement database; $10 goes to the Special Project Fund; $6 goes to the Legal Research Fund; and $45 goes to local costs. In addition, OVIs carry additional costs that vary and increase depending on the severity. On non-moving violation misdemeanors, $20 goes to the Indigent Defense Support Fund; $9 goes to Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund; $1 goes to the Sheriff for a law enforcement database; $10 goes to the Special Project Fund; $6 goes to the Legal Research Fund, and $59 goes to local costs.