Criminal Information

If You Are Arrested

  1. You have the right to remain silent. Do not give explanations, excuses, or stories. Save your defense for when you are in court. Tell the police nothing but your name and address.
  2. You have the right to have a lawyer. If you can not afford to hire a lawyer, you have the right to a free lawyer. Ask to see a lawyer immediately. Never talk to the police without a lawyer present. Do not make any decisions about your case without talking to a lawyer.
  3. You have the right to make phone calls. When you are arrested, you are entitled to make phone calls within the local area to a lawyer, bail bondsman, a relative or any other person. It is a good idea to call a relative or friend first who can make other calls for you.
  4. You have the right to appear before a judge on the next court day for a hearing on release on bond or without bail. You may ask the judge to lower your bail or to be released "on your own recognizance" (without bail). Don't hesitate to present to the judge your reasons why you should not remain in jail pending trial, even if you don't have a lawyer yet.

One of the building blocks of a democratic society is an educated citizenry. If citizens don't know their legal rights and how to enforce them, they will be taken advantage of. Ignore your rights, and they will go away.

The police-citizen encounter is a very dramatic contact with "the government". All citizens should know how the Constitution works and what rights all citizens have.

Rather than "reproduce the wheel", here's a link to vital information provided by the Ohio State Bar Association entitled, "Your Rights if Questioned, Stopped or Arrested by the Police"

These are excellent introductions to a complex subject matter.



Wallet Sized Rights Cards

Do you have any idea what to do when confronted by cops or pulled over? What should you do if cops come knocking at your door?

This is your easy answer! This small card provides you with important information. We advise you to print it out and keep it close just in case something happens.

Provided by the ACLU, this card should be carried by EVERYONE! Keep it handy!

If you have a police encounter, you can protect yourself.

Download Printable Copy ACLU Rights Card (pdf)

Download Printable Copy ACLU Rights Card with Immigration Info (pdf)


There are two posters for your front door one for the OUTSIDE of you door to remind others of your rights and one for the INSIDE of the door to remind yourself of your rights.

These can come in very handy if the cops were to crash your party. They can help in times of panic. Use them to your advantage.

Please print both and tape both up.


Download the outside poster (pdf)

Download the inside poster (pdf)

Expungement - What is it?

Expungement is a legal process in which you ask the Court to seal a record of conviction. If you are successful, it's like the conviction never occurred.

Generally, to be eligible for expungement, you must:

  1. Be an eligible offender as defined by statute (minor misdemeanors do not count against you for this purpose);
  2. Wait at least 1 year after your case is concluded before requesting to seal a misdemeanor conviction;
  3. Have no pending charges; and
  4. Convince the court that you are "rehabilitated".

BE AWARE: certain convictions may never be sealed.

Please call the office at 372-2951 for an appointment to discuss your specific case.


IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE for expungement, the general process is as follows:

  1. You must file a Motion to Seal in the court in which you were convicted (the Bowling Green Municipal Court has a specific form that you may download from their website);
  2. The filing fee at the Bowling Green Municipal Court is $50.00;
  3. The Motion to Seal should be fully completed and notarized;
  4. Make several copies of the Motion and submit the original and the copies to the Clerk of Courts;
  5. Serve (give) a copy of the Motion to the Prosecutor's office that handled the original criminal case;
  6. The Court will review your Motion and do a records check to verify that you are an eligible offender;
  7. The Court will schedule a hearing (particularly, if the prosecutor objects to your expungement- a rare occurrence in Bowling Green Municipal Court);
  8. If the Court is satisfied, the Judge will issue an Order to Seal your records to the arresting agency and all others known to have records of your conviction;
  9. It will be up to you to get this Court Order to any other agencies that might have records related to your case;
  10. Once the Order to Seal has been issued, you may answer "No" to questions about past criminal convictions.

To read the specific statute regarding Record Sealing, refer to Ohio Revised Code Section 2953.34.


The project to document police misconduct is brought to you by Student Legal Services, Inc.

If you feel you have been a victim of or a witness to police misconduct by the Wood County Sheriffs Department, Bowling Green Police Department, Liquor Control (The Ohio Department of Safety), Bowling Green State University Police Department or others, DOCUMENT their actions.

The purpose of this complaint form is to identify police problems, help decide what solution to pursue, and to design organizing strategies for securing accountability and reform.

The form also provides you with an option to remain anonymous.

Download Printable Form (pdf)

Jump to a Section:
Arraignment | Entering a Plea | Different Pleas | Misdemeanor
Sentence | Rights as a Defendant | Expungement

There are several steps in the judicial process. The first step after being arrested is the arraignment. You will be asked to appear in court for the first time within 48 hours of the arrest. The primary function of the arraignment is to enter a plea. This is not the time to tell the judge your story.

The following information is provided to give you information about the arraignment process.


When: The time and date for your arraignment will be listed on the citation. The actual time appearing before the judge will be 5-10 minutes. Be sure to allow at least 1 hour for the whole process. *

Where: The courthouse is located at 711 Dunbridge Rd. That is just south of the Meijer store. Both courtrooms are located on the second floor. *

What Happens: When you first arrive you will need to present your citation to the municipal clerk's office. They will file the citation and present you with a copy before you enter the court room. Then you will be asked to wait in the court room until the judge calls your name. When your name is called, approach the court standing on the left side. The judge will ask you if you understand the charges. The judge will then read the charges and ask you to enter a plea. At this point, one of two things can happen:

  1. Not Guilty - A later court date is set or
  2. Guilty, No Contest - Judge gives sentence.

Entering A Plea

By Pleading Not Guilty you have time to explore your options and seek council. IF YOU ARE NOT SURE OR DON'T KNOW, PLEAD NOT GUILTY. The judge will set a later court date for you to appear. This provides time for you to seek council or ask for a public defender, if you meet certain financial requirements. Student Legal Services is available to answer any questions you might have. This also provides time to deal with individual circumstances and finding possible defenses.

By pleading guilty or no contest, your options are limited. The judge will ask the police officer to read the report and any additional comments. Then you will have the opportunity to make a statement before the court. Once the judge has heard both sides, he will render his sentence. Remember that you are pleading guilty and he can impose the maximum sentence.

Different Pleas

Not Guilty

A not guilty plea means that you not want to give up any of your constitutional rights at this time and the trial will be scheduled for a later date. At this trial, the prosecution will have to prove you are guilty as to each and every element of the offense charged against you beyond a reasonable doubt. You will be able to subpoena witness in your defense at the trial.

No Contest

A no contest plea does not admit your guilt, but does admit the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint against you. Both you and the prosecutor will be permitted to make statements and then you will be found either guilty or not guilty depending on the evidence. If the facts which you do not dispute meet all the elements of the offense which you are charged with, the judge will find you guilty and you will be sentenced. A no contest plea cannot be used against you in a later civil or criminal case.


A guilty plea is a complete admission of your guilt as to the charge(s) against you. You will be permitted to make a statement explaining any justification before the judge imposes the sentence.


There are several levels of misdemeanor offenses and each carries with it a different maximum fine and possible jail time. The misdemeanor that is committed will correspond with one of the following categories. (See Chart) If found guilty, the Judge can give the maximum sentence. The Judge also has the right to suspend or add any condition to the sentence; such as community service or being a law abiding citizen for one or more years.


Possible Jail


1st Degree Six Months $1000
2nd Degree 90 Days $750
3rd Degree 60 Days $500
4th Degree 30 Days $250
Minor Misdemeanor No Jail $100



In determining your sentence, the court will consider the following: your prior criminal record, the risk that you will commit another offense, the nature and circumstances of the current offense, (i.e., violence vs no violence) and statements made by any victim. You can "work off" any fine through community service, but not court costs. Consider mediation to resolve disputes. Make out an alternating weekly chore list. Live with people you know well and get along with. Respect others possessions.

Rights as a Defendant

As a defendant in a criminal or traffic case you have several rights in court.

  1. The right to an attorney and a reasonable continuance to obtain the services of an attorney. If you are unemployed and/ or cannot afford an attorney, the court may appoint an attorney for you if the offense carries any jail time.
  2. The right to know the nature of the charge(s) against you, identity of the complaint(s), and the right to read the complaint.
  3. The right to remain silent to the charge(s) against you. You also have the right to testify for yourself or tell the court of any fact or circumstances that the court should know about. However, anything you do say regarding the charges may be used against you.
  4. The right to a jury trial of eight people on any charge where jail time is possible.
  5. The right to a speedy trial.
  6. The right to a cross-examine any witness who is called to testify against you.


If you are convinced of a minor misdemeanor, it doesn't give you a record and you do not have to expunge it. If the minor misdemeanor was for pot possession, you may want to expunge it because it would make you not eligible for federally subsidized student loans. If you are convicted of any other misdemeanor, you must wait at least one year from your final discharge to apply for an expungement order. You will need to do something to make this happen. Expungements do not happen automatically. You can only expunge your first offense! Check out our expungement section.



Maximum Penalty

    Imprisonment and/or fine
Alcohol Related
Underage drinking (legal age:21) M1 6 months $1,000
Furnishing alcohol to an underage person M1 6 months $1,000
Display of false identification M1 6 months $1,000
*Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol/drugs (OVI) M1 6 months $1,075
*Mandatory 3 days in jail plus minimum 6 month license suspension for first offense
Unlicensed or unconfined dog, dog barking, destroying or befouling property or abandoning animals MM No Jail Time $150
Fighting or attacking F4 18 months $5,000
Menacing or threatening M4 30 days $250
Destruction or Damaging Property
Vandalism, breaking windows or damaging property M2 90 days $750
Criminal mischief M3 60 days $500
Disorderly Conduct
Persisting in Disorderly Conduct M4 30 days $250
Recklessly causing inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to someone because of loud parties, offensive language, gestures, public indecency, etc. MM No Jail Time $150
Possessing less than 100 grams marijuana MM No Jail Time $150
Possessing drug paraphernalia M4 30 days $250
Trafficking in marijuana F5 12 months $2500
*All include a mandatory 6 month license suspension
Aggravated Arson (structure that may have people in it) F2 8 years $15,000
Arson F4 18 months $5,000
Tampering with fire safety equipment (extinguishers, smoke detectors, etc.) M1 6 months $1,000
False Fire Alarm M1 6 months $1,000
Telephone Harassment
Telephone Harassment M1 6 months $1,000
Shoplifting, possessing stolen street signs, stealing pitchers or mugs, dine & dash, forcing or tampering with a coin machine, etc. M1

6 months

Unauthorized Use of Property

M4 30 days $250

You have a responsibility to follow the laws of your city, state, and nation. If you fail to live up to that responsibility, you may face certain penalties. This section describes the potential legal consequences of committing an alcohol-related criminal offense.

Jump to a Section:
Underage Consumption, Purchasing or Possession of Alcohol | Providing Alcohol to an Underage Person | Fake ID | Disorderly Conduct | Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI) | Open Container

Underage Consumption, Purchasing or Possession of Alcohol

The legal drinking age in Ohio for consumption of an alcoholic beverage is 21 years old. Anyone purchasing, possessing, or consuming alcohol prior to their 21st birthday is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties associated with this offense are 6 months imprisonment or a $1,000 fine or both A 20 year old student, therefore, risks being imprisoned and fined when he decides to drink alcohol at a party or elsewhere.

SLS strives for a legally-educated and aware community. Through education and support, many problems can be prevented in the first place! By paying proper attention to conflict when it arises, one can hope to minimize negative consequences, and become empowered along the way.

Providing Alcohol to an Underage Person

Similarly, a person who furnishes alcohol to an underage person is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties associated with this offense are 6 months imprisonment or $1,000 fine or both. A social host, there fore, risks being fined and imprisoned when he furnishes alcohol to a person he knows or should know is not 21 years of age.

Fake ID

Possession or display of a fictitious operator's license is a first degree misdemeanor. The offense includes mere possession of a fictitious license or display of someone else's valid operator's license. The maximum penalties for this offense are 6 months imprisonment or a $1000 fine or both. Moreover, the fictitious operator's license is utilized to purchase alcohol or enter an establishment that serves alcohol, the minimum fine must be at least $250.00 and the person displaying the fictitious operator's license may have his valid operator's license suspended for 3 years.

Disorderly Conduct

Likewise, disorderly conduct while intoxicated is a minor misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of a $100.00 fine.

Disorderly conduct occurs when one recklessly causes inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to another due to offensive conduct.

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI or OVI)

In Ohio, a person may not operate a motor vehicle if he is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. The maximum penalties for operating a vehicle while under the influence are 6 months imprisonment(mandatory 3 days in jail) or a $1,000 fine or both. In addition, the operator must forfeit his driving privileges for 6 months.

Open Container

It is illegal to possess in public an open container of alcohol. If convicted of this offense, the maximum penalty is a $100.00 fine. Consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle is a fourth degree misdemeanor with maximum penalties of 30 days imprisonment or a $250.00 fine or both.

Updated: 07/17/2020 12:49PM