Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I am a parent and want to file charges on my child. How do I go about that?
The Prosecutor's Office is not an investigative agency. You must go to your local police department and file a complaint there before we can get involved.
What is the status of my child’s case?

The police department must file its report with our office before we can file the case with the Juvenile Court. You should first call the police department and find out whether the investigation is complete.

Our office must also process the complaint before it is filed in court. Processing involves reviewing the report, determining the appropriate charges, writing up the complaint, and having the investigating officer sign the complaint. Given that we receive numerous reports during the week, it is not unusual for it to take approximately a month before the charges are officially filed. Once filed, the Juvenile Court should contact you about your child’s court date.

Real Estate and Tax Section-Civil Division
How much do I owe in back taxes?

You will have to contact the Treasurer’s Office for a current, up to date tax bill or check your tax bill on line.

I received an answer and cross-claim from the county Treasurer in my foreclosure action. What do I need to do?

The county Treasurer has a tax lien on all real estate in the county and as a named defendant, he must answer the foreclosure complaint. Typically, he will simply answer, but in the event the Treasurer also files a cross-claim, it means that there are delinquent taxes owed. Unfortunately, since we cannot provide you with legal advice, I cannot advise you on what to do, though the civil rules of procedure require that you reply to the Treasurer’s cross-claim.

How do I save my house from foreclosure?

Contact your mortgage company to see if you can restructure your mortgage or work out an agreement with them and if taxes are delinquent, contact the Treasurer to get those taxes current.

Why did you send 5 copies of the notice of voluntary dismissal of the Treasurer’s cross-claim to my home?

The law requires that all documents filed in a case get served on all defendants in the case. Because there were 5 defendants with the same address (some John, Jane, and Jack Does) named in the action and they all were properly served per the docket, all 5 need to be served.

Civil Division
One of my neighbors is violating zoning, can you prosecute him?
You need to contact your township zoning inspector and report to him/her your complaint. If the zoning inspector finds that a violation is ongoing, he/she will take steps to rectify the situation, which could culminate in our office filing a lawsuit on behalf of the Township.
I’d like to report some unlawful or illegal activity going on in my neighborhood.
These activities should be reported to your local township police department or to the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office. They will act on the complaint accordingly and, if merited, will bring it to the Prosecutor’s Office for attention.
I’m a taxpayer in Geauga County, can you represent me in my lawsuit?
The Prosecutor’s Office represents the State of Ohio, Geauga County and the individual Townships; not individuals experiencing legal difficulties. For individual civil matters, you will need to contact a private attorney. If you do not know of an attorney, you may wish to call the Geauga County Bar Association which maintains an attorney referral program based on areas of practice.
How do I get a variance?
You will need to contact the authority who promulgated the Rule or Resolution from which you need a variance; e.g., a Township for a variance from its Zoning Resolution, the Board of Health for a variance from its Health Rules, etc.
How much does it cost the Township to use the Prosecutor’s Office?
The Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office is the statutory legal representative of the Townships; in a court case the Township may be required to pay court costs, or other related costs for depositions, experts, etc. but our legal services are provided at no cost.
Can I get a copy of an opinion you gave to your client?
No. Opinions rendered by the Prosecutor’s Office to its clients are attorney-client privileged, and can only be released if the Client acts to intentionally waive the privilege.
What is the difference between your office and the Police Prosecutor’s Office?
The Police Prosecutor’s Office handles traffic and misdemeanor criminal violations.
How do I press charges?
Contact your local police department and report the incident(s). Any report alleging felonies is sent to our office for review and possible indictment. If indicted, charged are filed with the court and prosecuted by this office.
How soon will the criminal case be over?
Criminal prosecutions can take many months to resolve. The Prosecutor’s office has a victim/witness advocate that will keeps victims informed of court proceedings.
Why is he/she being given a bond?
To guarantee the defendant’s appearance in court. The amount of the bond can depend on a number of factors, such as ties to the community, prior criminal record, whether the defendant is considered a flight risk. A defendant may be released on a personal recognizance bond, meaning a promise to appear.
How can I reschedule a hearing?
You will need to contact the Judge’s bailiff or secretary and request that the hearing be rescheduled to another date. A formal written request may be required by the court.
You are the County Prosecutor’s Office, so does that mean you represent the public and can give me legal advice about my case?
No. Our office represents the State of Ohio in criminal matter occurring within Geauga County. We are not permitted to provide individuals legal advice.
Family Division
Who can get assistance with child support issues in Geauga County?
Anyone receiving public benefits will obtain services. Others may make fill out a form called IV-D (4-D).
I have been ordered to pay child support. How do I pay?
If you are employed, your employer will withhold some wages.  If you are self employed or not employed you must send payments to:

Ohio Child Support Payment Central
P.O. Box 182373
Columbus, Ohio  43218
My payment was late, an incorrect amount or short. What do I do?
Contact your case manager at CSED immediately at 440-285-9141 or 800-209-7590.
What if I can't locate the father of my children?
Both the Prosecutor's Office and CSED have several data bases and other resources that may be used to locate missing parents who are to pay child support.
In Ohio, what is the difference between having "guardianship" versus "legal custody" of a child?

Under Ohio law a "guardian" is defined as:
"a person, association, or corporation that is granted authority by a probate court pursuant to Chapter 2111. of the Revised Code to exercise parental rights over a child to the extent provided in the court's order and subject to the residual parental rights of the child's parents."

Likewise, "legal custody" is defined as:
"a legal status that vests in the custodian the right to have physical care and control of the child and to determine where and with whom the child shall live, and the right and duty to protect, train, and discipline the child and to provide the child with food, shelter, education, and medical care, all subject to any residual parental rights, privileges, and responsibilities. An individual granted legal custody shall exercise the rights and responsibilities personally unless otherwise authorized by any section of the Revised Code or by the court."

In Ohio, what does it mean for a grandparent to have "power of attorney" for a child, and how long does it last?

Under Ohio law, parents, guardians, and/or custodians of a child may create a "power of attorney" that grants the grandparent(s) with whom the child is residing rights and responsibilities regarding the care, physicial custody, and control of the child, including the ability to enroll the child in school, to obtain from the school district educational and behavioral information about the child, to consent to all school-related matters regarding the child, and to consent to medical, psychological, or dental treatment for the child.

The power of attorney does not, in any way, affect the rights of the parents, guardians, and/or custodians of the child in any future proceeding regarding the custody of the child or the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the child and does not grant legal custody of the child to the attorney-in-fact. The power of attorney terminates on the occurence of whichever of the following events occurs first: (1) one year elapses following the date the power of attorney is notarized; (2) the power of attorney is revoked in writing by the person who created it; (3) the child ceases to reside with the grandparent designated as the attorney-in-fact; (4) the power of attorney is terminated by court order; (5) the death of the child who is the subject of the power of attorney; (6) the death of the grandparent designated as the attorney-in-fact.

In Ohio, when is a child presumed to be legally abandoned by their parent(s)?
In Ohio a child is presumed to be abandoned when a parent of the child has failed to visit or maintain contact with the child for a period of over ninety (90) days.