Franklin County Municipal Court – Columbus, OH

by | Oct 26, 2021

A municipal court is a court with small area of authority over criminal charges and civil disputes within its geographic area. These courts can be located at the city or county level.

Franklin County Municipal Court INformation

Court: Franklin County Municipal Court
Address: “Franklin County Government Center 375 S High St, Columbus, OH 43215”
Phone: 614-645-8186

City: Columbus
County: Franklin
State: Ohio

What is the purpose of the Franklin County Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are routinely called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they handle minor crimes, civil disputes, and traffic incidents. Courts like Franklin County Municipal Court are the first level of court for this group of matters.

On the other hand, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family law matters, accident cases, more serious criminal infractions, or breaches of contract.

County courthouses have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil actions that can’t exceed the amount of $15,000.00, while the circuits courts handle felony matters and larger civil cases.

TYPES OF affairs seen IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Columbus, Ohio

Municipal courts are the entry level of courts in the U.S.. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some locales share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better serve their population or to save money on overhead costs. The cases that could be heard by a municipal court vary depending on the municipality, but typically include traffic tickets, criminal misdemeanors and code violations.

You will not see a set definition for what constitutes a misdemeanor charge versus a felony charge, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanors and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

how are cases managed in the municipal court in Columbus?

Municipal courts are the first level of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic crimes, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are have often been called city courts or town courts. Matters are handled by a magistrate who is usually a lawyer, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council members to help for a specific time period.

Magistrates manage hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for arrest
  • Set bail amounts and the conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against defendants by police officers
  • Issue search warrants to police officers in order to protect evidence from crime scenes
  • start preliminary inquiries to establish if there is enough evidence to issue a charge

The common process of a Municipal Court matter

The common path of a municipal courthouse case can be tricky. The next portion is an overview of the steps involved in a regular municipal court case.

Step One: Issuance of Summons

A summons from the court is given when an individual has been charged with violating a town ordinance or state law. The individual who has received the summons from the court will need to be present at their assigned time and courthouse, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they never appear, they may be found guilty anyways and could be fined up to $1k or given a jail sentence if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Show Up before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to show up after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the person. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Columbus, OH

Penalties change often, which is why it’s best to speak with licensed attorney. The information below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the Franklin County Municipal Court. 

A violation is an offense that carries a penalty of $500 or less, while a misdemeanor can possess penalties up to $1000 or one year in local jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different charges in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an crimes. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a license for it then you could be fined up to $2k or spend up to six months in jail.

Franklin County Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court may be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one place or system. The records that an individual might need to depend on the type of matter they have before the court, what stage it is at in the process, and what type of information is required by law to be present.

Questions ABOUT the Franklin County Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Columbus, Ohio?

In Ohio, the municipal court is a lower court with civil and criminal jurisdiction within a town or municipality. Municipal courts will have a small jurisdiction and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty charges and misdemeanors.

What does the municipal court handle in Columbus, Ohio?

Depending on the size of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. More serious cases/crimes are handled by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Franklin County Municipal Court have?

The number of judges depends on the municipality’s population.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Ohio?

A municipal courthouse judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set duration or until they retire. Judges are commonly chosen by the people with each precinct’s results weighted based on the number of people. Municipal judges are often not lawyers but have some legal education and must complete multiple hours of ongoing education every year to maintain their licenses.