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Have drug crime reforms worked in Oklahoma?

Changes in attitudes towards drugs crimes may have a positive impact on the Oklahoma courts. The legislature intends to reduce the prison population by applying more equity in sentencing. Nonviolent offenders may benefit from the reforms as the changes could keep them out of prison. The same person with the exact charges may have faced a lengthy prison term in years past.

New reforms mean significant changes

The changes made in Oklahoma for sentencing regarding burglary and some drug crimes led to a significant reduction in the prison population. The Oklahoma Policy Institute reveals that 2016 and 2018 legislative reforms supported a 23% drop in the prison population.

Keeping “low-level” offenders out of prison and involved with other programs may provide economic and social benefits. Fewer people in prison means less of the state’s budget goes towards unnecessary incarceration expenses. By keeping people out of prison, the impact on their lives and families is not as excessive.

Concerns remain about sentencing

Reform enacted into law included the legalization of medical marijuana and reducing penalties for several marijuana offenses. Those concerned about harsh sentencing may not have as much to fear from the courts, but no one should assume that an “easy sentence” is automatically forthcoming in every case.

Someone arrested for intent to distribute a significant amount of marijuana or who was caught attempting to burglarize a home while illegally possessing a firearm may face difficult days in court. The court may not be inclined to issue a lenient sentence when looking at aggravated crimes.

However, plea bargains remain options in some cases. Then there are cases in which law enforcement’s actions were not entirely legal. If a defendant’s rights were violated, the charges may not stand.

A defense attorney could help someone facing low-level charges for drug crimes. A lawyer may plead with the court to keep a defendant out of jail.

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