Your right to be tried by a jury of your peers is enshrined in the Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution, and, as such, this right is one that has been honored since the founding of our country. While our federal constitution preserves the "right of trial by jury" by all persons facing criminal charges, states have different ways of applying this right when state prosecutors bring felony or misdemeanor charges against individuals. Here, we take a look at what jury rights the state of Oklahoma offers to defendants facing either felony or misdemeanor criminal charges.
Your Right to a Jury Trial in an Oklahoma Felony Case
In Oklahoma, a felony is any criminal charge for which you can be sentenced to over a year in a state prison. All other crimes are considered misdemeanors. You have a right to have a jury of 12 persons in your felony case. Whenever the sentence that can potentially be imposed on the defendant is over six months, then the jury must be unanimous in its verdict of finding the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the court to convict the defendant. A unanimous verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by 12 different jurors is clearly a high bar, and thus defendants are strongly encouraged to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney in assessing their options in asking for a jury trial.
Your Right to a Jury Trial in an Oklahoma Misdemeanor Case
Oklahoma defendants also have a right to a jury trial in misdemeanor cases, although some misdemeanor crimes may involve different jury requirements than in felony cases. A jury for a misdemeanor case need only have six jurors sitting on it. The same rule regarding unanimity of jurors described above also applies to misdemeanor trials. If the sentence to be potentially imposed is over six months for the misdemeanor trial (meaning it would be over six months but not over a year of imprisonment), then the jury must be unanimous. But if the sentence is six months imprisonment or less, then only three-quarters of the jury have to agree with guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the defendant to be convicted. Again, defendants are encouraged to work with experienced Oklahoma criminal defense counsel to weigh their options for trial when facing misdemeanor or felony charges.
Experienced Criminal Defense
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian is a former Oklahoma district attorney who relies on his years of experience in prosecuting cases to provide the best possible defense for all defendants. If you are facing criminal charges in Oklahoma, contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405-896-9768 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.