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What rights do I have after surviving a crime?

You have the right to be notified when an arrest on your case is made and if the suspect is released on bond. It is important to know that when the crime that has been committed is a felony, you may be asked to testify in court.

Can I be paid for things I lost when I was victimized?

Yes. The court can order that you be paid restitution. You will want to let the prosecutor know the types of loss that you have experienced. Be sure to include:

  • Loss of pay for any time you had to take off of work
  • Money you lost because it was stolen or your property was damaged
  • Bills from the hospital or prescription medication that you had to pay
It’s important that you keep track of what you spend by way of receipts, lost wages via work schedules, pay stubs and property value with any warranty or insurance reports that you file. The prosecutor will use these documents as evidence when making the request for on your behalf restitution.

I don’t want to live at home anymore, but the police keep taking me back there. Do I have to go?

Yes. If you are a minor, unless the police can identify a threat to your safety, they will take you back to your parent or guardian.

I’m in between homes; can I be arrested for sleeping in a public place?

Being arrested is a possibility, however most times, police officers will make an attempt to wake you and ask you to leave the area. To ensure your safety, if you are sleeping in a public space and feel someone waking you, do your best to avoid making any sudden movements, verbally state that you are alive and well and if you cannot clearly identify that they are law enforcement, ask them to identify themselves.

Can I still vote if I have a criminal record?

Yes. In Ohio, even if you are a convicted felon, you can still vote. Unless you are currently serving time in jail or prison for a felony or have been convicted of election-related felonies twice, you have the right to vote. If you have served time in jail or prison, your right to vote is restored on the day that you are released from prison.

If an officer stops me and starts asking questions, do I have to answer them?

It depends. If an officer has stopped you, whether you are in your car or on the street, ask the officer if you are free to leave and if they say yes, do so calmly.

If the officer says that you are not free to leave, recognize that you have the right to know why you are being arrested and the right to remain silent.

You will need to tell the officer that you want to exercise your right to remain silent. You will still need to verbally state your name, date of birth and address if asked. You do not have to provide a picture ID or speak anything further. You cannot be punished in any way for refusing to speak. You also do not have to give any consent to search your belongings or your physical person. Officers will still perform a “pat down” for their safety.

Do I have to show a picture ID to the cops if they ask for one?

No. You are also not legally mandated to carry a picture ID with you at all times. If an officer approaches you and asks for identification, you have the right to respond, “Am I being detained?”.

IF you are suspected of a crime or have witnessed a violent felony, or a conspiracy/attempt to commit a violent felony, then you are obligated to verbally state your name, address and date of birth.

I got in trouble as a minor; do I have a criminal record?

If your case(s) were in juvenile court, then no you do not have a criminal record. Juvenile court records are not criminal records and juveniles are not convicted of crimes, but instead go through a process called adjudication. Also, because juvenile court records are not criminal offenses, you can answer “NO” to questions that ask if you have been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or any type of crime.

What happens to my juvenile records?

Your juvenile records will be automatically expunged after they have been sealed for sealed for 5 (five) years or when you turn 23, whichever happens first. It’s important to know that your record must be sealed before it can be expunged. You must apply to have your record sealed. You will want to contact your local juvenile court to find out how to get your juvenile records sealed and expunged.

>> Access a list of county juvenile clerk of court contacts here.

Do I have the right to an appeal after being convicted?

Yes. You will need to immediately reach out to your attorney and discuss possible reasons for the appeal. Your attorney has specific timelines for filing an appeal, so contacting them as soon as possible is very important. Appeals are the process by which a higher court determines if the court made an error on your case. If you were convicted through a plea bargain, then you are not able to file an appeal. Also, each time you file an appeal, the victim in the case has the right to be notified.

The police keep asking me questions after placing me under arrest; do I have to answer their questions?

No. As an individual under arrest, you have specific rights and these rights include the right to remain silent and have an attorney present during any questioning. Even if after being arrested, you have started answering questions, you can tell officers that you choose to assert your right to have an attorney present with you during questioning. It is important that you remain silent until your attorney is present.

As a minor, are curfews something that I have to obey?

Yes. If you live in an area that has a curfew, you have a responsibility to obey the curfew. Not doing so can lead to serious consequences.

Can I get in trouble for things my friends or family are doing around me?

Yes, and because of this, it is important that you are mindful of who you surround yourself with. If you are with a friend or family member when they commit a crime, you could potentially be charged with the same crime. For this reason, be sure to act responsibly when you are with peers.

If I get stopped by the police, are there certain things that I should know?

If the officer did not immediately tell you why they pulled you over, you should ask because you do have the right to know why you were stopped. Also, make sure that you keep your hands visible at all times and before making any movements, tell the officer what you’re about to do (i.e. reach for your wallet). If the police ask to search your car, you have the right to refuse the search. Law enforcement may still search your car if they believe that there is evidence of a crime.