Every Ohio county has a Common Pleas Court with four divisions.
Every Ohio county also has one or more municipal/county courts. New Philadelphia Municipal Court handles cases for northern Tuscarawas County; Southern District Court hears cases for southern Tuscarawas County. They hear:
Criminal cases usually start with a complaint, followed by an arraignment, then a pretrial and eventually a trial. Felony cases involve the possibility of a prison sentence (as opposed to a local jail sentence) and have to eventually be heard in Common Pleas Court. Because they are more serious, felony cases require the approval of the county grand jury. If a complaint is filed before the grand jury meets, the prosecutor must present evidence at a preliminary hearing to keep the defendant in jail or under supervision while awaiting the grand jury’s review.
Civil cases - including divorces, evictions, custody, and support cases – also start with a complaint, which is served upon the defendant along with a summons. If you receive a summons and complaint, it is important that you answer the complaint promptly. Otherwise, the plaintiff (who filed the complaint) can get a default judgment without a court hearing.
In Ohio, prisoners can be held in local county jails or state prisons. Defendants awaiting trial are either released until the trial or held in local jails. Tuscarawas County has its own jail for local inmates.
Any convicted defendant can be sent to jail, but only those convicted of a felony can be sent to a state prison. Once a judge sends a convict to prison, the state's Department of Corrections decides where to place the inmate.
Ohio also has community-based correctional facilities (CBCFs) where felons can be sent instead of prison which are a combination of treatment, lockdown, and work-release facilities.
If you do not like the decision of a local court, you can appeal to the Fifth District Court of Appeals and even further, if necessary, to the Ohio Supreme Court. Federal cases, including bankruptcy, are heard in the United States District Court.
Judges are elected to six-year terms. They often hire magistrates to hear some cases for them, but any decision by a magistrate can always be reviewed by the judge.
Each court has jurisdiction over certain types of cases in certain geographic areas. For example, the divorce court cannot handle your traffic ticket; a court in Tuscarawas County cannot decide a criminal case from Wayne County, etc.
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Last updated November 8, 2023