The Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court is a single court with two separate locations in Tiffin and Fostoria. The Criminal Division of the Tiffin location handles criminal violations that have taken place within the geographic jurisdiction of all of Seneca County excluding Jackson and Loudon Townships and the City of Fostoria. The Criminal Division of the Fostoria location handles criminal violations that have taken place within the geographic jurisdiction of Jackson and Loudon Townships in Seneca County, Washington Township in Hancock County, Perry Township in Wood County, and the City of Fostoria, which lies within Seneca, Hancock, and Wood Counties..
Criminal cases heard in the Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court are misdemeanor cases. Criminal cases that carry higher penalties may have a preliminary hearing in this court to determine probable cause. If probable cause is found, final disposition will be heard and determined by the County Common Pleas Court for the geographic jurisdiction the offense occurred.
You may visit the Tiffin Criminal Division, 103 E. Market Street, Suite 201, Tiffin, or the Fostoria Criminal Division, 213 S. Main Street, Fostoria - second floor Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The waiver schedule can be found in the Bond and Waiver section of this web site.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What happens at an arraignment hearing?
- After a defendant has been arrested or summoned on a criminal complaint, an arraignment hearing is set. At arraignment, the defendant is advised of his or her rights. In a misdemeanor case the defendant enters a plea to the alleged offense. The pleas are:
- Guilty: This is a complete admission of guilt.
- No Contest: This is not an admission of guilt, but is an admission of the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint. The plea of no contest shall not be used against you in any later civil or criminal proceeding.
- Not Guilty: This is a denial of the charge and puts in issue all of the essential elements of the offense.
- Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
- Pleas of guilty or no contest are usually disposed of the same day at arraignment with the Judge sentencing the defendant.
- In a felony case, a plea does not need to be entered at arraignment and the case is scheduled for a preliminary hearing before the court to determine if enough evidence exists in the case to bind the case over for consideration by the grand jury in the County Common Pleas Court for the geographical jurisdiction where the offense occurred.
- Do I need a lawyer?
- If you are charged with a jailable offense, it may be wise to consult with an attorney. You have the right to have a lawyer represent with you at all stages of the proceedings. A lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and the defenses you can raise. You may ask for a continuance in your case to retain counsel.
- If you are not able to employ counsel, you may qualify for a court appointed attorney at no cost to you. Court appointed attorneys must be requested from the judge, and you may be asked for information regarding your income or required to fill out paperwork justifying your request.
- If you do not qualify for a court appointed attorney and need information about hiring an attorney, you may contact the Seneca County Bar Association or check the yellow pages.
- I have witnesses for my case. Do I need to have them show up for trial?
- Yes. Witnesses play an integral role in the criminal justice system and are needed to corroborate testimony or to give testimony as to acts that occurred in their presence. Witnesses are usually issued a subpoena to appear in court on a case. A subpoena compels the witness to appear in court and give testimony. Failure to honor a subpoena (appear in court) may result in the court issuing a contempt warrant for the arrest of the witness.
- When arriving at the court, please check in with the clerk’s office. If you have special concerns as a witness, please bring these to the bailiff's attention and he will attempt to assist you. After the case is heard the court will excuse you. If you are in need of proof that you were present in court, the clerk’s office will provide you with a letter.
- What occurs during the trial process?
- With a plea of not guilty in a misdemeanor case, the case is scheduled for trial. The trial is either a bench trial or a jury trial. In a bench trial the case is tried and presented to the Judge to determine guilt or innocence. In a Jury Trial the case is tried and presented to a jury of peers from the community to determine guilt or innocence. Trials proceed in the following manner:
- Opening Statements: Both sides of the case give statements as to the evidence and testimony they will be presenting during the trial. Opening statements are not evidence.
- Prosecutor's Case-in-Chief: The prosecutor will call witnesses and present evidence in the case. The prosecutor will ask questions of the witness and the court will then allow the defense to cross-examine the witness. The defense may question the witness and enter evidence as to this witness' testimony. The prosecutor may then ask follow-up questions in redirect examination of the witness. When the prosecutor is finished with this process for all witnesses, the prosecutor rests its case.
- Defense Case-in Chief: The defendant presents their case in the same manner as the prosecutor did above or the defendant may choose not to present a case or testify. The defendant would then rest.
- Closing Arguments: Both parties may give brief closing statements designed to help the court make its decision in the case.
- Is the eviction procedure different for "Section 8" or subsidized tenants?
- Yes. Tenants who participate in federal subsidy programs, including the Section 8 programs, are afforded special protection under federal law. As a general rule, subsidized housing tenants are entitled to written notice of their opportunity to meet with the management, and an opportunity to meet with the management. They also may be entitled to an opportunity to correct their conduct before the landlord may file an eviction action. The specific requirements vary with each of the subsidized or "Section 8" programs. A landlord interested in evicting a Section 8 tenant should first know the type of Section 8 or subsidy involved. Second, the landlord should read carefully the signed lease and contract. Finally, because both federal and state laws apply to Section 8 evictions, the court recommends that Section 8 landlords obtain legal advice from an attorney before filing an eviction against a tenant in a federal subsidy program.
- Who decides the sentence?
- If the defendant is found guilty in a case, the Judge then decides what sentence is appropriate. This may include time in jail, fines, probation or other sanctions.