What Is The Process for Drug Charges in Centerville?
The law enforcement agency responsible for investigating criminal offenses occurring within the City of Centerville is the Centerville Police Department. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office investigates criminal offense occurring within Washington Township.
Depending on the particular drug and quantity involved, the police may elect to formally arrest the suspect, issue a citation and release the suspect, or release the suspect and conduct further investigation. In many cases, the suspect is released, so that the drugs may be analyzed by the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory to confirm the presence of any illegal substances.
When a person is charged with a misdemeanor offense, a citation or criminal complaint is filed in the Kettering Municipal Court, which by contract, has jurisdiction over offenses occurring within Centerville and Washington Township. The case is scheduled for an Arraignment, at which time the defendant (once charged, the “suspect” becomes a “defendant”) is formally advised of the charge, enters a plea, and a bond is set. If the defendant is charged with anything more serious than a Minor Misdemeanor and cannot afford an attorney, he/she can request that one be appointed for him free of charge.
The next step is to have the case set for a Pretrial Hearing. A Pretrial Hearing in the Kettering Municipal Court takes place in the judge’s chambers. The defendant’s attorney meets with the judge and the prosecutor to discuss the case in detail. The defendant sits in the lobby area. The Pretrial Hearing is often the first time the police report and other discoverable information is made available to the defense attorney. Plea negotiations take place. Potential legal issues are discussed, such as the defense attorney filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence. If additional evidence exists, but is not yet available, or if further plea negotiations need to take place, the case might be scheduled for a second Pretrial Hearing. Often, the judge will indicate his inclinations on sentencing if a plea agreement is reached. If a pretrial motion, such as a Motion to Suppress Evidence, is filed, the case will be scheduled for an Evidentiary Hearing. If an impasse is reached between the defense attorney and the prosecutor, the case will be scheduled for either a bench or jury trial. If a plea agreement is reached, the defendant will review the paperwork with the defense attorney, enter the courtroom and appear before the judge to enter his plea.
In many cases, the defendant is sentenced by the judge following their plea. In other cases, the judge may want additional information about the offense, the defendant’s prior criminal history, and further information about drug treatment options that may be available for the defendant. In that situation, the judge may refer the defendant to the probation department to complete a Presentence Investigation and have the case scheduled for a separate Sentencing Hearing. The judge will review the Presentence Investigation Report at the Sentencing Hearing and issue the appropriate sentence.
If the defendant is sentenced to probation, they will report to the Probation Department following the hearing. If they are sentenced to a term of incarceration, they may be taken into custody at the conclusion of the hearing or may be given a date to report to the Montgomery County Jail to begin their sentence.
For those defendants charged with felony offenses, there are several courses that the case may take. They may be formally arrested. The police then meet with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office and seek approval for the filing of a felony drug charge. In most cases, especially those in which the drug offense is a Felony of the 4th or 5th degree, the defendant is released from custody. The case is presented to the Grand Jury within several weeks, and either a summons or arrest warrant is issued if the Grand Jury issues an Indictment. For more serious drug offenses, the suspect remains in the Montgomery County Jail, and a Felony Complaint is filed in the Kettering Municipal Court within 24 hours (or the next business day) of their arrest. The defendant appears before the Kettering Municipal Court for an Arraignment, whereby they are formally advised of the charges, and a bond is ordered. The case is then scheduled for a Preliminary Hearing, which must be held within seven days of the defendant’s arrest if the defendant remains in custody. In these situations, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office will seek to have the suspected drugs analyzed by the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory as soon as possible and present the case to the Grand Jury to obtain an Indictment before the Preliminary Hearing. If the Grand Jury indicts the defendant before the Preliminary Hearing, the Preliminary Hearing will be canceled. The case will then be transferred to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court for prosecution. The Kettering Municipal Court only has jurisdiction over cases through the Preliminary Hearing and cannot hold trials or accept guilty or no contest pleas in felony cases.
Regarding felony charges, oftentimes, the optimal time to try to resolve the case favorably with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office is prior to a felony Indictment being issued. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible following the alleged incident is critical for defendants who can afford to retain private counsel.
Once a felony Indictment is filed, a summons may be issued ordering the defendant to appear at an Arraignment held at the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. If the defendant fails to appear, a warrant may be issued for their arrest. In other cases, a Warrant on Indictment may be issued, whereby the person will be arrested, served with the Indictment, and transported from the Montgomery County Jail to their Arraignment. At the Arraignment, the defendant is formally advised of the charge, enters an initial plea, and a bond is set. If they cannot afford an attorney, they can request that one be appointed free of charge.
Following the Arraignment, the case is scheduled for a Status Conference at the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. Prior to the Status Conference, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office provides the defense attorney with a discovery packet, which contains police reports, witness statements, copies of photographs, recordings, and lab reports from the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory. The Montgomery County Common Pleas Court does not require the defendant to appear at the Status Conference. The Status Conference is held in the judge’s chambers with the defense attorney and prosecutor. Potential legal issues are discussed, such as the defense attorney filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence or an Application for Intervention instead of Conviction. Often, the judge will indicate their inclinations on sentencing if a plea agreement is reached.
Usually, the week after the Status Conference, the Scheduling Conference is held. The defendant is required to appear at the Scheduling Conference, which is stored in the courtroom. It is held on the day of the judge’s Docket Call, in which 20-30 criminal cases are scheduled at the same time and held one after the other. At the Scheduling Conference, the defendant may enter a guilty or no contest plea following plea negotiations, the case may be scheduled for a bench trial or jury trial, the case may be rescheduled a week or two later to obtain additional evidence or continue the plea negotiations, or the case may be scheduled for a hearing on a legal or evidentiary issues such as a Motion to Suppress Evidence or an Application for Intervention in Lieu of Conviction.
If the defendant enters a guilty or no contest plea or is convicted following a bench trial or jury trial, the case will be scheduled for a Presentence Investigation, and the case will be scheduled for a Sentencing Hearing. Montgomery County Common Pleas Court usually schedules a Sentencing Hearing 2 weeks out for defendants who are incarcerated and four weeks out for defendants who are not incarcerated. Defendants not incarcerated are given appointment paperwork to appear at the Montgomery County Adult Probation Department for their interview for the Presentence Investigation. If a defendant fails to attend the appointment, they risk being arrested and confined so that the Presentence Investigation may be completed. At the Sentencing Hearing, the judge may sentence the defendant to Community Control Sanctions (probation) or a term of imprisonment. The judge can sentence the defendant to Community Control Sanctions, with one of those sanctions being a term of local incarceration in the Montgomery County Jail of up to 180 days.
In felony drug cases, oftentimes, the best result is an opportunity to participate in a program called Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (ILC). ILC is usually only available to first-time felony offenders. The defense attorney must file an Application for ILC prior to the Scheduling Conference, stating that drug or alcohol usage was a factor in the commission of the offense. An ILC Report Hearing is usually scheduled two weeks later for those individuals who remain incarcerated and four weeks later for those individuals who are not incarcerated. The defendant receives a detailed application and appointment notice to appear at the Montgomery County Adult Probation Department for an interview. At that appointment, the defendant will be referred for a drug and alcohol assessment so that the appropriate drug treatment professionals can evaluate the seriousness of the defendant’s substance abuse issues and recommend the best type of treatment, i.e., inpatient treatment and, or intensive outpatient treatment.
If the defendant fails to attend the appointment and/or assessment, their Application for ILC may be denied by the court, or they may be taken into custody by the court and held in jail until their eligibility for ILC may be determined. At the ILC Reports Hearing, the defendant is informed of their eligibility for ILC. If accepted into the ILC program, the defendant enters a guilty plea to the indicted felony charge. The judge orders that the criminal proceedings shall be suspended and grants the defendant’s Application for ILC. The defendant is placed under the supervision of the Montgomery County Adult Probation Department and must complete drug treatment, as well as any other probation-like conditions imposed by the court. The court holds the defendant’s written guilty plea and not filed. If the defendant successfully completes the terms of their ILC, the written guilty plea is destroyed, and the Indictment is dismissed. The defendant can then immediately file to her the case expunged. However, if the defendant violates any of the terms of their ILC, a Notice of Revocation is filed, and a Revocation Hearing is scheduled. If the defendant admits to the violation or such violation is proven, then the defendant’s written guilty plea is filed with the court, and the defendant is officially convicted of the felony offense. The court then proceeds to sentence the defendant.
Contact our experienced lawyers at Horwitz & Horwitz today for more questions about the process of drug charges in Centerville.