A Columbus Ohio Criminal Attorney Discusses ‘Small’ Crimes With Big Penalties
Minor crimes with not-so-minor consequences
Everyday, people who believe themselves to be good, law-abiding citizens commit crimes. Sometimes they do it unknowingly, and other times because they perceive that everyone commits them without consequence.
However, when charged for minor offenses, the penalties can be worse than you may expect.
Common crimes and their penalties
Crime: Jaywalking – Almost everyone has jaywalked in their life, and many don’t discern it as a crime. However, in reality, Columbus police cite dozens of pedestrians for jaywalking every month. Remember, always cross the street at a designated crosswalk, and never step out into traffic.
Penalty: Typically, the fine for jaywalking is about $130, but if a jaywalker causes an accident, they could be charged with negligence and potentially be sued for damages.
Crime: Littering – While most people know that dumping your garbage can’s contents in a park or public place, people still litter every day. Missing the trash can when tossing an empty bottle,, dropping gum wrappers and receipts when rooting around pockets, and, most commonly,throwing cigarette butts out of car windows all qualify as littering.
Penalty: If you litter and don’t take the time to clean up your mess, you could be facing a third degree misdemeanor and a fine that could range from $50 to $500. What’s more, if you litter on state property or near a water supply, fines can be even steeper.
Crime: Assault – Most people recognize [assault a crime], but sometimes that regard vanishes when someone insults their significant other or favorite sports team. When an argument escalates, sometimes people feel the only way to make their point is through physical confrontation.
Penalty: Assault penalties can vary greatly depending on the altercation severity. If it was a brief scuffle with no clear instigator, the repercussion may be a small fine. However, if one or both parties are badly injured, the charges may increase to aggravated assault or even attempted murder, which could result in felony charges and a prison sentence.
Crime: Stealing cable television – Many consider this to be a victimless crime, as well as one that they can easily be gotten away with, but technicians can spot cable theft from a mile away. Additionally, the potential consequences of getting caught stealing cable far outweigh the benefits of getting free TV.
Penalty: Cable theft is illegal under federal law, and punishable by fines ranging between a few hundred to several thousand dollars. The cable company may also take legal action against the thief which can result in a costly lawsuit. Additionally, depending on the circumstances, a cable thief can even be sentenced jail time.
Crime: Disorderly conduct – This is a relatively broad crime that serves as a catch-all for offenses like public intoxication, loitering, disturbing the peace, and nearly any other type of disruptive behavior.
Penalty: The consequences for disorderly conduct will depend on the circumstances. A simple noise complaint might result in a warning or small fine, but repeated or violent infractions could result in jail time.
A Columbus Ohio criminal attorney can help
Many of these violations have a range of penalties. That’s why it’s always important to always seek guidance from a professional attorney to make sure a seemingly harmless crime doesn’t result with you behind bars.
If you’ve been charged with one of these crimes and want to ensure that you get the best possible outcome, contact the experienced criminal attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer. They’ll listen to your side of the story, investigate the circumstances surrounding your case, and may even get your charges dismissed.
Contact Yavitch & Palmer by using our online form to schedule an appointment at our downtown Columbus office, or call us at 614-224-6142.