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November 2016 Archives

New Oklahoma Law Reduces Some Felonies to Misdemeanors

On the same day a new US President was elected, the voters of Oklahoma passed important criminal justice reforms which will reduce a number of crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and divert funds saved from not imprisoning felons to providing community rehabilitation services. State Questions 780 and 781 both won a majority of votes within the state and will become law as of July 1, 2017.

How State Question 780 Reduces Penalties

With the passage of State Question 780, Oklahoma will now treat a host of drug and property-related crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies, with the result that the maximum consequences for a guilty verdict or plea will be a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in prison. The state crimes that will be affected include:

  • Possession of a dangerous substance

  • Larceny (taking of property less than $1,000)

  • Taking of domesticated fish or game (when worth less than $1,000)

  • Taking of oil or gas (when worth less than $1,000)

  • Embezzlement (when amounts embezzled worth less than $1,000)

  • Fraud involving taking of housing or food (when value less than $1,000)

  • Forgery, counterfeiting, or issuing bogus checks (involving less than $1,000)

By incarcerating less individuals on lower-level property and drug crimes, the state will conceivably save money, and State Question 781 provides a framework to distribute the saved money to counties for the purpose of supporting mental health and substance abuse services.

The Purpose of the New Measures

In the ballot initiative filed with the state, the supporters of 780 pointed out that Oklahoma has the second-highest incarceration rate in the country and the highest incarceration rate for women. The stated purpose of the new law was to: “1) stop wasting taxpayer money keeping people who commit low-level crimes behind bars for years; and 2) saddle fewer people who commit low-level offenses with felony convictions that will follow them through life and prevent them from getting an education or a job.”

Your Oklahoma Criminal Defense Team

At the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, in Oklahoma City, we applaud the criminal justice reform efforts embodied in the new laws while also recognizing that even a misdemeanor on your record can lead to jail time, fines, and challenges for your career and reputation in the future. Former Oklahoma District Attorney Patrick Quillian has the knowledge, experience, and tenacity to fight your criminal charges and work towards a closed investigation, dismissal of charges, not guilty verdict, or other favorable outcome. Contact his office today at 405-896-9768 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.

How to Keep a Criminal Record Secret From Work

If you have been arrested in Oklahoma for a crime, then that record is likely available to your current or potential employer, even if you were acquitted of the crime or successfully completed all terms of your criminal sentence. Although some states do not allow employers to search for criminal records of employees where there was not a conviction, Oklahoma does allow employers to do so, and the state maintains arrest records on a publically available database. In order to keep past criminal records (whether you were found guilty or not) a secret from employers and others may require you to go through the expungement process in Oklahoma, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you in the expungement process.

Expunging Past Arrests and Other Criminal Records in Oklahoma

For most people seeking to keep their Oklahoma arrest and other criminal records secret, a Section 18 expungement is the best option. People who have been arrested and later acquitted as well as some people who have been convicted of the crime can use a Section 18 expungement to have their records sealed so that the general public, including employers, cannot access them. Those past records eligible for Section 18 expungements include:

  • Acquittals: If you were acquitted at trial, you can have your arrest record expunged.
    Reversals on Appeal: If you appealed your criminal conviction and the appellate court reversed the trial court's decision and there was a dismissal, the records may be expunged.

  • Factual Innocence: If you were convicted but DNA evidence later proved your innocence, the records may be expunged.

  • Misdemeanors: If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be eligible for expungement. If prison time was served, you may need to wait five years prior to expungement.

  • Nonviolent Felonies: Those convicted of nonviolent offenses may be eligible for expungement if they have served their sentences and a sufficient period of time has passed, e.g. 10 years in the case of a single felony.

Expungement can only be accomplished through a court order, which requires petitioning the court for the expungement. An experienced criminal defense attorney can guide you through the process of successfully obtaining an expungement of past arrest records and conviction records in order to protect your reputation and career by preventing current and future employers from accessing such records.

Experienced Legal Guidance in Your Oklahoma Expungement

J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, is a criminal defense attorney in Oklahoma City with years of experience in helping his clients rebuild through lives through successful expungements of their criminal records and arrest records. Contact his office today at 405-896-9768 to schedule a consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.

My Girlfriend’s Parents Accused Me of Statutory Rape, What Should I Do

If you have been accused of statutory rape by the parents of a woman you have been seeing, you may be feeling scared, confused, and not sure where to turn to find answers. Below, we’ll take you through a few basics regarding statutory rape law that you will want to keep in mind as you deal with this type of situation.

Statutory Rape is a Crime Even Where There is Consent

Generally, to be convicted of the crime of rape, the prosecutor is required to show that there was no consent to the sexual act by the other person. This is not so with statutory rape. Statutory rape laws say that people under the “age of consent” in a given jurisdiction cannot legally consent to a sexual act, so even if the other person “consented” and even initiated the sexual act, you still may be guilty of statutory rape. Furthermore, even if the other person lied about their age and claimed to be over the age of consent, you can still be found guilty.

Statutory Rape Laws are Based on Your State’s Law

Although there are federal laws related to sex crimes involving minors, most statutory rape crimes are based on state law. What this means is that you need to look at your own state’s laws to determine whether there was a crime and not the law of another state.

How to Dress When Going to Court for a Criminal Trial and/or Hearing

The bad news is that you have to show up in criminal court for a trial or pretrial hearing. You will definitely be going before the criminal court judge who wields great power in determining whether the prosecution can proceed with its case against you and in what type of evidence will be admitted against you. And the jury, of course, will decide whether you are guilty of the crimes charged and has the power to determine your sentence. The good news is that you have many opportunities to influence both the judge and the jury in making these decisions. One of the simplest ways you can do this is by making some easy but important decisions regarding what you wear and how you appear when you show up in court.

Dress Like You're Attending a Grandparent's Funeral

Yes, that is a sad thought, and we hope all your grandparents live to a very long age, but it is a good rule of thumb when it comes to what you wear to court. You are not there to impress the ladies or the gents. You are not there to show off your distinctive fashion sense.

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