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I've been arrested! What happens now?

This guide is intended to give you a basic idea of what will happen if you are arrested in Hamilton County.

What Happens First: Grand Jury

Felonies are the most serious crimes. They run from 1st degree (most serious) to 5th degree and carry a potential penalty ranging from 6 months in a state penitentiary to life imprisonment or even death. The Supreme Court has put together this felony sentencing guide.

The prosecutor will present the case against you to a Grand Jury. These sessions are secret. Neither you nor your attorney will be there.

  • This is not a trial. The Grand Jury investigates whether there is enough evidence to indict (formally charge) you.

After about 10 days, the Grand Jury will return one of three verdicts:

  • Indict as charged: you are formally charged with a felony

    Amend the charges to misdemeanors: if there is not enough evidence to charge you with a felony

    Ignore or No Bill: case is dismissed due to lack of evidence.

    • This does not mean they could not charge you later when they have more evidence. "Double Jeopardy" does not apply to indictments. 

What Happens Next

Second Arraignment

  • Usually happens one week after the Grand Jury returns its decision
  • A Common Pleas Judge is assigned
  • You may request a reduction in bond

Disposition Scheduling Conference

  • Procedural meeting in front of the judge
  • Attorneys present discovery (evidence) for the record and request discovery from one another
  • This is a chance to file all legal forms and get an idea of the case against you

Plea or Trial Setting

  • Usually about 30 days after the DSC
  • During this hearing you can enter a plea or schedule your trial
    • Your attorney is ethically bound to bring you all offer from the prosecution, whether they think it is a good offer or not. Be sure to ask questions.


  • The timing on this varies depending on the case
  • You and your attorney will present your case in front of a jury
  • Jury can return a verdict of Guilty or Not Guilty
    • In the state of Ohio, criminal jury verdicts must be unanimous 

Watch the video

Attorney Erik Laursen of Laursen & Lucas ( walks you through, step by step, what will happen, identifies your rights, and gives a little lawyer-ly advice should you find yourself arrested in Hamilton County, Ohio.


DisclaimerHamilton County Law Library staff, as a service to its patrons, provides reference services and information, including these research guides. To protect the public interest, Ohio law requires that legal advice and services be rendered only by qualified attorneys who are subject to the guidelines of the courts. Library staff members do not interpret the law, provide legal advice, or explain court procedures. The information provided is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney.  None of our services shall be construed as giving legal advice.