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  • What is an Information in a criminal case?
    In Oklahoma, an Information is the title of the document the State files when it is charging someone with violating the criminal laws of the State of Oklahoma.
  • What is Jury Sentencing?
    Oklahoma is one of four states (the others are: Arkansas, Kentucky, and Missouri) where a jury must recommend the punishment upon delivering a verdict of guilty. Either at the time a jury is deliberating as to whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty or at a separate stage of the trial, the jury is provided the sentencing range for the crime (as provided by law). If a verdict of guilty is rendered, the jury must decide on a sentence within the sentencing range. The trial judge then has the discretion (in most cases, but it in rarely used) to suspend all or a portion of the sentence and order multiple sentences to run either concurrently with each other or consecutively to each other (or some combination thereof).
  • Can a cosigner on a bond be held responsible for a defendant not showing up to court and can the bondsman go after the cosigner's assets?
    Yes and no. The cosigner is not going to be liable in the criminal case for the defendant's failure to appear but the cosigner is liable to the bondsman pursuant to the contract the the cosigner signed with the bondsman. The contract with the bondman likely guarantees payment for at least the full amount of the bond should the defendant fail to appear for court and the bond is forfeited. The bondsman likely relied upon the guarantee of the cosigner in his or her decision to post the bond. The best resolution is for the defendant to get with his attorney and surrender immediately. If that occurs, the damages the bondsman can seek from cosigner will likely be substantially less than the bond amount. If that does not occur, it is likely the bondsman will files a civil action against the defendant and cosigner, so the cosigner may need to contact a attorney.
  • Can an inmate in one county jail get a hold from another county lifted?
    It depends. Contacting an attorney would be the best way to find out specific information and whether it can be accomplished. The answer will likely depend on why the other county has a hold. If it is for a cost warrant, it is likely the costs could be paid (or a payment plan initiated), and the county could release the hold. If it is for a new charge, an application to revoke/accelerate a probated sentence, or a warrant for failure to appear, the judge in the county with the hold is likely going to require the defendant to appear for arraignment. If it was due to a bondsman surrendering the defendant in the other county, a new bond might could be posted resulting in the hold being released. It is going to depend greatly on why the hold exists.
  • What can happen if probation is violated?
    If someone on probation violates the terms of the probation, that person should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The court can revoke the sentence in part or in full. If revoked in full, all portions of the sentence that were originally suspended are revoked and what the defendant must serve in prison. A deferred sentence can be accelerated similar to how a suspended sentence can be revoked, except for one major difference. Instead of the court revoking a sentence that has already been imposed and suspended, the court can sentence the defendant to any term of years within the sentencing range for the crime, based on what the law was at the time the crime was committed (with a few exceptions recently enacted).
  • My records on OSCN state that a warrant was issued for my arrest two days ago, why can I not find it on the Sheriff's website?
    If you are searching the Sheriff's website for a warrant and it does not appear, it could be for a variety of reasons. One is that the warrant was signed and filed but has not been received by the Sheriff's Department yet. Another could be that you previously posted bond upon your arrest - when that has occurred, the warrant merely gets signed and filed but does not go active because you already have a court date. There a variety of other reasons as well. Contact a criminal defense attorney. If you are not already out on bond, you should also contact a bondsman, who can verify whether the warrant is active and what the bond amount is.
  • What will happen if I go to court without a lawyer for a criminal charge?
    In Oklahoma, you are going to need an attorney. You may apply for a court-appointed attorney. Depending on your financial situation and the value of the bond posted to secure your release from jail (regardless of who posted the bail or paid the bondsman). If you show up without an attorney, some judges will require you to be back in a few hours with an attorney and other judges will permit you a few weeks to hire an attorney. Be prepared for all possibilities.
  • I am a contractor and refused to return the customer's money after he hired someone else. Why am I charged with felony?
    You should hire a criminal defense attorney immediately. Typically, the complaining party files a police report. The police look into it, and present the case to the DA. If the DA believes (usually purely based on the one-sided reports presented by the officer and statement by the complaining party) probable cause exists that a crime was committed, the DA files an Information. For the State to file a felony, the value/money at issue has to be greater than $1000.
  • How difficult is it to get the terms and conditions of probation amended?
    It is difficult to say, but I would strongly encourage you to talk to a criminal defense attorney to obtain advice and representation in seeking to modify the conditions of your probation. Probation conditions do get modified from time-to-time, but the underlying facts of the crime for which the person was sentenced and his/her behavior on probation often are critical factors the Court will consider in determining whether to modify the terms of probation. The attorney you contact to discuss this with will learn a lot more from you and should be able to give you an idea of the likelihood of accomplishing what you seek to accomplish.
  • If I was to run to another state before going to court for sentencing on a felony drug charge, will Oklahoma extradite me back?
    Yes. Oklahoma will extradite you back. Talk to a criminal defense attorney immediately and do not abscond. If a bondsman posted your bond, your bondsman will pay the State/County the expense for bringing you back (and the bondsman will come after you and whoever else may have signed the contract with the bondsman to recoup the expense). If you are on an OR bond, the State/County will pay. Additionally, if arrested in another state for a warrant in Oklahoma, the chances of you getting bond again before you end up back in Oklahoma and appear before a Judge is extremely low, and any bond set by the court thereafter will be much higher (if set at all). So, you could end up being held in the other state and in Oklahoma for more than 15 days without a chance to post bond and even after that you may not be permitted to post bail. Moreover, the State can withdraw any plea agreement it has with you, which could impact your sentencing - especially when that judge knows you just absconded and did not comply with the conditions of your release on bond - not something that is going to play in your favor for being a good candidate for probation.
  • What is the actual sentence length of a life sentence (not a life without parole sentence)?
    The Department of Corrections considers life to mean the rest of one's natural life; however, the a life sentence is treated by the Pardon and Parole Board as term of 45 years to determine when one becomes eligible.
  • How much of my sentence will I be required to serve in the Department of Corrections?
    I have developed a prison sentence calculator to help determine when a sentence will discharge and when the person will be eligible for parole. You just need to know the sentence length (in years), the number of days credit for time served the person is to receive (for time spent in jail prior to the date of sentencing), and the date of sentencing.
  • If someone is serving a life sentence, do the matrices in Section 332.7 of Title 57 have any impact on his potential release?
    Section 332.7 sets forth the eligibility for inmates to qualify for parole. There are references in in the law to matrices of sentencing ranges for various crimes. Said matrices were part of Oklahoma's Truth-in-Sentencing laws passed in 1997; however, many sections of the Truth-in-Sentencing law that passed in 1997 (including the matrices of sentencing ranges for various crimes) were repealed the next year prior to those sections of law ever taking effect. Section 332.7 requires the Pardon and Parole Board to promulgate rules to implement a parole process that includes the matrices. That was never done because the sections of law containing the matrices never took effect. The courts have held that the only portion of the Truth-in-Sentencing law that remains applicable in Section 332.7 is the calculation of an inmate's parole eligibility date.
  • What does "Motion and Order to Endorse Additional Witnesses" mean?
    It is something the an attorney files when the party intends to call a witness who wasn't initially endorsed. It is likely that the timing of the endorsement may be late so an order may be necessary to permit the late endorsement. It is possible it means something different, as the context here is a bit limited, and I presume you have seen this on an online docket sheet.
  • Can a person commit a burglary by breaking into his own home (even if he is not on the lease)?
    Generally, the answer is no. But there are exceptions. Talk to an attorney to discuss your specific circumstances. The language below is located in the Committee Comments (which are not binding on any court but are a helpful resource) to the Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions for the specific instruction for Second Degree Burglary: "In contrast to [First Degree Burglary], the second-degree burglary statute does not specify that ownership or possession of the structure, upon which a breaking and entering is perpetrated must be vested in another. The Commission has concluded, however, that since at common law the proscription of burglary was intended to safeguard possessory rights, R. Perkins, Criminal Law 206 (2d ed. 1969), a right of entry negates the possibility of prosecution for burglary. Although no Oklahoma cases have addressed this question, the Supreme Court of California, in construing a statute defining as burglary the entering into any dwelling, held that a right of entry to an apartment dispels the possibility of prosecution for burglary when one cotenant forcibly entered the apartment for the purpose of feloniously assaulting another cotenant. In reversing the defendant's conviction of burglary, the court observed: 'To hold otherwise could lead to potentially absurd results. If a person can be convicted for burglarizing his own home, he could violate [the burglary statute] by calmly entering his own house with intent to forge a check. A narcotics addict could be convicted of burglary by walking into his house to administer a dose of heroin to himself. Since a burglary is committed upon entry, both could be convicted even if they changed their minds and did not commit the intended crimes.'" People v. Gauze, 125 Cal. Rptr. 773, 777, 542 P.2d 1365, 1369 (1975).
  • When can my friend expect to be released from prison if he is serving a life sentence from 1991?
    Your friend would benefit greatly from an attorney representing him before the Pardon and Parole Board. Assuming he is serving a life sentence in Oklahoma, he will not discharge his sentence. Unlike a sentence that is for a specific number of years, a life sentence in Oklahoma means that the individual sentenced is to serve the remainder of his or her life in prison. So, he must be paroled to be released from prison. He would have become eligible for parole around 2006. It is not uncommon for individuals serving a life sentence to be denied parole when they first are eligible. It also was not uncommon for most inmates to be denied parole until about 2018. He should continue to be considered every three years thereafter. Without knowing the circumstances of the crime that resulted in him receiving the life sentence, his behavior since his arrival at DOC, and other factors, it is tough to say whether his prospects of being parole are good or bad. It would be well worth getting him legal representation before his next parole hearing.
  • Is it legal for me to own a pistol to protect my home if I am on a felony deferred sentence for a non-violent crime?
    I assume by the fact you want to have it for protection, that you want to possess the firearm and not just own one. The crime that makes it illegal to possess a firearm for convicted felons also applies to anyone serving a term of probation for a felony. A deferred sentence is a term of probation. Also, if your sentencing was deferred for a felony under the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, the deferred will be considered a conviction through the date that your sentencing is deferred and for a period of ten years after that. Therefore, under state law, you cannot possess a firearm while your sentencing has been deferred and maybe longer.
  • What is an expungement in Oklahoma?
    In Oklahoma, there are different types of expungements, but the most common are an arrest-records expungement and a court records expungement. An arrest records expungement seals from public view (removing them from websites, files, and background investigations) any arrest and court records, it permits you to deny that the arrest or case ever occurred, and it prohibits employers, educational institutions, state and local government agencies, officials, and employees from requiring you to disclose any information contained in the sealed records. A court records expungement (often what one is entitled to after immediately completing a deferred sentence) seals the court records and removes the records from any court websites, but it does not result in the records of your arrest or the records of any agency other than the court clerk to seal records.
  • Will an expungement restore my right to possess a firearm?
    A person loses their right to possess a firearm upon being convicted of a felony and certain misdemeanor offenses. An expungement, by itself, does not legally restore the right to the individual. Under Oklahoma law, the only way to restore one's gun rights is to first obtain a pardon from the Governor. The following article goes into more depth on this subject: An Expungement in Oklahoma Does Not Restore the Right to Possess a Firearm.
  • How do you get deferred sentence dismissed and expunged?
    It is best to hire an attorney to pursue the dismissal and expungement to make sure the records are properly updated with OSBI. An attorney will also ensure that copies of necessary records are made and kept for use when the person qualifies for an arrest records expungement. Essentially, a motion will need to be filed, a hearing set, notice provided to the State, and an order prepared to be presented to the judge at the hearing.
  • On a Juror Questionnaire it asks about a criminal record. What if it's been expunged? How do you answer that?
    It would depend on what type of expungement received as to whether one can legally deny the existence of the record. One type of expungement only expunges the court records and the other type expunges all references to the arrest and case maintained by state and local law enforcement agencies. The purpose of the questionnaire is to provide information to the attorneys and parties who will be trying a case to find out information about potential jurors - regarding potential jurors past involvement with the courts and any bias that said potential juror may have as a result. If I was in your shoes, I would provide the information requested to the best of my recollection. Expungements are generally needed for employment, housing, reputation, etc, and those things would not be impacted by disclosure on a federal juror questionnaire. On the other hand, putting false information on a questionnaire that is sent to the federal courts would not be something I would want to be accused of - based on an incorrect belief the type of expungement I received permitted me not to disclose it. It is better to play it safe and go ahead and state the year (or approximate) that you believe you were arrested, the charge(s) filed against you (if any - or based on your best recollection), the disposition of the case/arrest (if you can remember), and then explain that the arrest or case was expunged under Oklahoma law.
  • How can I verify whether I have a clean background report?
    My recommendation would be to obtain a report on your background. If you are only concerned about Oklahoma, you can obtain by following the the link here for instructions on obtaining your OSBI record. If you believe you may have records from other stated, I recommend you obtain an Identity History Summary from the FBI. It should show you your arrest history and the disposition of each arrest. If from either report, you see something you believe was never fully handled or resolved or you want to have it removed, you can contact an attorney to assist you in doing so.
  • Can a felony that occurred 8 or 9 years be expunged?
    It is possible. Contact us to discuss. There are many circumstances in which a felony that old can be expunged. It is also possible that it is one that cannot be expunged without first obtaining a pardon. You will need to make sure your court costs, fines, fees, and any restitution have been paid in full, as the records cannot be expunged with those financial obligations still outstanding.
  • How long do I have to wait to get a misdemeanor off my record?
    Contact us to discuss in more detail. Records do not get cleared automatically in Oklahoma. You will need to obtain an expungement. If the charge was dismissed by the State for whatever reason (except dismissal based on you entering a plea of guilty and receiving a deferred sentence), then you likely qualify now. If you received a dismissal after you successfully completed a deferred sentence, then you would have to wait one year from the date to which the sentencing was deferred. Even if that happened, you may qualify now, if the year has already elapsed.
  • Can one apply for a pardon before the sentence is complete?
    Yes, but with limitations. The person has to have been on parole or probation for at least consecutive years before applying for a pardon. There are other requirements as well in order to qualify for a pardon, but the sentence does not need be completed prior to applying.
  • Can my spouse own a handgun if I am a convicted felon for a non-violent offense?
    Consider speaking to an attorney to apply for a pardon. A pardon would restore your rights and no longer make it illegal for you to possess a firearm. Under Oklahoma law (and please note that federal law also is applicable), the statute that prohibits convicted felons from possessing a firearm states that unless a conviction for a non-violent offense has been pardoned, "it shall be unlawful for any person convicted of any felony in any court of this state or of another state or of the United States to have in his or her possession or under his or her immediate control, or in any vehicle which the person is operating, or at the residence where the convicted person resides, any pistol, imitation or homemade pistol, altered air or toy pistol, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun or sawed-off rifle, or any other firearm." See Section 1283 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
  • Can you apply for a pardon if you had a deferred sentence for two misdemeanors several years ago?
    The beauty of a deferred sentence is that it is not a conviction. A pardon is designed for the individual who is a convicted felon (or certain misdemeanors involving domestic abuse) to have their rights restored that were lost due to the conviction. Receiving a deferred sentence on two separate misdemeanors means you did not lose any rights that need restoring. Be mindful too that a deferred-sentence expungement (the one that is automatic when you complete a deferred sentence) is not a full, arrest-records expungement and does not permit you the same relief regarding your ability to deny the existence that the arrest ever occurred. You may qualify for the full, arrest-records expungement, which would be more useful relief (and would likely cost you much less) than obtaining a pardon of a deferred sentence for two misdemeanors.
  • What are the chances of getting a pardon in Oklahoma?
    This is something best answered after having a free consultation with us. There are various factors specific to the individual seeking a pardon, specific to the crime, and the duration between conviction and application for a pardon that the Pardon and Parole Board takes into consideration. The whole approval process is discretionary, and it must be approved by the Board and the Governor. It also is a lengthy process. After speaking with you, we can advise you as to your chances for obtaining a pardon. Be sure that all of your court costs, fines, assessments, and restitution (if any) have been paid. Having any outstanding financial obligations in your case is prohibitive to obtaining a pardon.
  • How are assets distributed when someone dies without a will?
    The assets are distributed pursuant to state law. Section 213 of Title 84 of the Oklahoma Statutes contains the default rules for the distribution of property belonging to someone who dies without a will (after all valid debts have been paid). The rules come as a surprise to many, so be sure an contact an attorney to discuss.
  • What can I do if both parents died, they left no will, and I'm the only living child?
    The short answer is that it depends. You should contact a probate attorney to discuss the specific facts of your situation. It could be that probate is necessary - especially if real estate is involved or accounts exist without surviving beneficiaries listed.
  • My father died and my stepmom still lives in the home. If probate his estate, what does that mean for my stepmom who lives in the home?
    The answer to this question depends on a few things, such as whether stepmom was married to father at the time of father's death, who is on the title of the property, and what type of interest did father (and possibly stepmom) have in the property. Your best bet is to contact a probate attorney. We offer free consultations and, upon learning more details, can give you a much better idea of how things will play out if a probate is necessary.
  • My Grandmother had a trust and a will, but she supposedly changed her will before she died. How do I find out if the copy I have includes the changes?
    Your best bet is to contact a probate attorney. If a probate case has been filed, you can get a copy from the court or the attorney for the estate. If it hasn't been filed, you can ask for a copy from whoever has the will. There is a statutory obligation on the person possessing the will to deliver it to the court or the named executor within 30 days of notification of the death of the person. However, to answer your question in more detail (or to provide alternative methods of discovering whether you have the latest version of the will), I would need additional information. Often these types of questions are tricky because there is often more the attorney needs to know before providing any type of answer. Most attorneys offer a free consultation and can help determine what, if anything, must be done moving forward.
  • How do you obtain power of attorney over someone who is incapable of caring for herself?
    Contact us to discuss your options. If she is incapable of caring for herself and therefore lacks the mental capacity to understand the benefits, risks, and effects of signing a power of attorney, you will likely need to be court-appointed as her guardian. A power of attorney is the delegation of authority to someone else. The person delegating the authority has to be of sound mind. If the person is not of sound mind, court intervention is required. This is one of the benefits of setting up a durable power of attorney. Sometimes it's too late to go the power of attorney route, and guardianship is necessary.
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