HOW TO FIND A LAWYER
Criminal and Traffic Offenses
If you are charged with a crime, including a traffic offense, you are entitled to have a lawyer represent you at all stages of the proceedings. A lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and the defenses you can raise.
County and City Prosecutors
If you are the victim of a crime or otherwise expect to be called as a witness for the prosecution of a crime, you should contact the prosecuting attorney for information on the case, see FREQUENTLY NEEDED PHONE NUMBERS. When you call, be sure to have the case number, if you have one. Case numbers beginning with a "C" are usually handled by the county prosecutor. The county prosecutor's office is located near the courthouse at 230 East Ninth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202, see Hamilton County Prosecutor. The city prosecutor handles most other cases and has offices at 801 Plum St., Cincinnati, OH 45202, see City of Cincinnati Law Department.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may qualify to have a Public Defender appointed to represent you at little or no cost to you. You may qualify for a Public Defender, even if you have a regular job. The Public Defender's office is located at 230 East Ninth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202, less than a block from the courthouse and the Justice Center. The phone number is (513) 946-3700. You may call for an appointment or visit the office in person. The Public Defender's office usually needs at least two weeks advance notice for most routine court appearances. (If you are in jail, the Public Defender's office probably will contact you while you are in jail.) For more information see Hamilton County Public Defender.
Cincinnati Bar Association Programs
Persons who do not qualify for Public Defender services, but are marginally indigent, may qualify for the A.M.I. program (Attorneys for the Marginally Indigent). This is a program sponsored by the Cincinnati Bar Association in conjunction with the Public Defender's office where participating lawyers agree to take cases for reduced rates. Clients must qualify under the program's guidelines as marginally indigent. If a person does not qualify for the A.M.I. program, an additional program for qualifying persons is available where attorneys have agreed to accept their fees on an installment basis. The A.M.I program can be reached at (513) 381-8359. Persons are seen by appointment.
Lawyer Referral Service
The Lawyer Referral Service is a program where the Bar Association tries to match a person needing legal help with an attorney. Attorneys participating in the program agree to an initial consultation fee of $50 for up to 30 minutes of consultation. Additional fees are based on the attorney's private rates. The bar association charges no fee to the person seeking legal help.
The program can be reached at (513) 381-8359, Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The program maintains offices at the Bar Association, 225 E. Sixth St., Second Floor, Downtown.
Of course you may secure an attorney outside these programs.
Cases between private parties are usually referred to as civil cases. In Municipal Court most civil litigation involves landlord tenant issues, money disputes under $15,000 and cases in Small Claims Court. (Small Claims Court is set up for parties to handle their cases without an attorney. Please see the information in this site on SMALL CLAIMS COURT.) For civil cases you may hire your own attorney or seek legal help from one of the following sources.
The Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati, (513) 241-9400, provides free legal services to low income persons involved in civil disputes. Please see the LEGAL AID WEB PAGE for more complete information.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project is a program, established in 1982 by Legal Aid and the Cincinnati Bar Association to refer cases to private attorneys who help clients without charging a fee with adoption, divorce, visitation, consumer debt, probate matters, wills and representation in lawsuits. The Legal Aid Society arranges VLP lawyers.
The Lawyer Referral Service, (513) 381-8359, discussed above, also will refer lawyers to persons needing representation in civil cases.