Criminal Division
(419) 734-4143

The Criminal Division of the Ottawa County Municipal Court handles criminal violations that have taken place within the geographic jurisdiction of this court, which is all of Ottawa County. The waiver schedule can be found on the "Waiver Schedule" page of this web site.

Criminal cases heard in the Ottawa County Municipal Court are misdemeanor cases. Criminal cases that carry higher penalties may have a preliminary hearing in this court to determine probable cause. If probable cause is found final disposition will be heard and determined by the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens at an arraignment hearing?

After a defendant has been arrested or summoned on a traffic or criminal complaint, an arraignment hearing is set. At arraignment, the defendant is advised of his or her rights. In a misdemeanor case the defendant enters a plea to the alleged offense. The pleas are:

  • Guilty: This is a complete admission of guilt.
  • No Contest: This is not an admission of guilt, but is an admission of the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint. The plea of no contest shall not be used against you in any later civil or criminal proceeding.
  • Not Guilty: This is a denial of the charge and puts in issue all of the essential elements of the offense.
  • Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Pleas of guilty or no contest are usually disposed of the same day at arraignment with the Judge or Magistrate sentencing the defendant.

In a felony case, a plea does not need to be entered at arraignment and the case is scheduled for a preliminary hearing before the court to determine if enough evidence exists in the case to bind the case over for consideration by the grand jury in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court.

Do I need a lawyer?

If you are charged with a jailable offense, it may be wise to consult with an attorney. You have the right to have a lawyer represent with you at all stages of the proceedings. A lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and the defenses you can raise. You may ask for a continuance in your case to retain counsel.

If you are not able to employ counsel, you may qualify for a court appointed attorney at no cost to you. Court appointed attorneys must be requested from the Judge or Magistrate, and you may be asked for information regarding your income or required to fill out paperwork justifying your request. You will be assessed a $25.00 fee that is due on the day of the hearing in which you are requesting court appointed counsel.

If you do not qualify for a court appointed attorney and need information about hiring an attorney, you may contact the Ottawa County Bar Association or check the yellow pages.

I have witnesses for my case. Do I need to have them show up for trial?

Yes. Witnesses play an integral role in the criminal justice system and are needed to corroborate testimony or to give testimony as to acts that occurred in their presence. Witnesses are usually issued a subpoena to appear in court on a case. A subpoena compels the witness to appear in court and give testimony. Failure to honor a subpoena (appear in court) may result in the court issuing a contempt warrant for the arrest of the witness.

When arriving at the court, please check in with the clerk's office. If you have special concerns as a witness, please bring these to the bailiff's attention and he will attempt to assist you. After the case is heard the court will excuse you.

What occurs during the trial process?

With a plea of not guilty in a misdemeanor case, the case is scheduled for trial. The trial is either a bench trial or a jury trial. In a bench trial the case is tried and presented to the Judge or Magistrate to determine guilt or innocence. In a Jury Trial the case is tried and presented to a jury of peers from the community to determine guilt or innocence. Trials proceed in the following manner:

  • Opening Statements: Both sides of the case may give statements as to the evidence and testimony they will be presenting during the trial. Opening statements are not evidence.
  • Prosecutor's Case-in-Chief: The prosecutor will call witnesses and present evidence in the case. The prosecutor will ask questions of the witness and the court will then allow the defense to cross-examine the witness. The defense may question the witness and enter evidence as to this witness' testimony. The prosecutor may then ask follow-up questions in redirect examination of the witness. When the prosecutor is finished with this process for all witnesses, the prosecutor rests its case.
  • Defense Case-in-Chief: The defendant presents their case in the same manner as the prosecutor did above or the defendant may choose not to present a case or testify. The defendant would then rest.
  • Prosecutor's Rebuttal: As the prosecution has the burden of proof at trial, the prosecutor has one final opportunity to present any final evidence.
  • Closing Arguments: Both parties may give brief closing statements designed to help the court make its decision in the case.

Who decides the sentence?

If the defendant is found guilty in a case, the Judge or Magistrate then decides what sentence is appropriate. This may include time in jail, fines, probation or other sanctions.

Forms

Below you will find various forms useful for Criminal cases. To download a form, right-click the appropriate link below and click "Save Target As..." (exact wording may vary).

Note: These files are in Adobe PDF format and requires the FREE Adobe Reader for viewing.

Form Name Pages Size Link
Demand for Trial by Jury 1 16KB dem_jury
Entry of Appearance and Waivers Document 1 12KB ent_waiv
Hours of Operation
Mon, Tue, Thu:
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Wed & Fri:
7:00 am - 4:30 pm

Night Court
2nd Thursday of each
month at 5:30 pm
(call court to schedule)

Phone Numbers
Clerk's Office:
419.734.4143
Assignment Office:
419.732.2871
Probation Department:
419.734.6299
Fax:
419.732.2862
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