HB 2479 Makes Changes to 63 O.S. 2-402 by eliminating minimum sentences for first and second felony drug possession violations, reducing maximum sentences for all felony drug possession violations, and adding a section for third and subsequent felony drug possession violations.
The current version of 63 O.S. 2-402 (becoming obsolete on November 1, 2016) prescribes the following punishments for felony drug possession violations:
1. The first offense of possessing a schedule I or II substance (except marijuana), is a felony punishable by imprisonment for 2-10 years and a fine not exceeding $5000
2. Second or subsequent offenses of possessing a schedule I or II substance (except marijuana) are felonies punishable by imprisonment for 4-20 years and fines not exceeding $10,000
The new version of 63 O.S. 2-402 (taking effect on November 1, 2016) prescribes the following punishments for felony drug possession violations:
1. The first offense of possessing a schedule I or II substance (except marijuana), is a felony punishable by imprisonment for 0-5 years and a fine not exceeding $5000
2. The second offense of possessing a schedule I or II substance (except marijuana) is a felony punishable by imprisonment for 0-10 years and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
3. Third and subsequent offenses of possessing a schedule I or II substance (except marijuana) are felonies punishable by imprisonment for 4-15 years and fines not to exceed $10,000.
The entire text of HB2479 can be found here:
The new version of 63 O.S. 2-402 can be found here:
There is a brand new statute taking effect November 1, 2016, that will give prosecutors the ability to file charges as misdemeanors rather than felonies so long as they consider the appropriate factor. The primary factor is that the charges being filed aren't crimes listed in 21 O.S. 13.1 that mandate that the defendant serve at least 85% of his sentence. These "85 percent crimes" are very serious offenses such as Murder, First Degree Manslaughter, Assault With Intent to kill, etc. This new law, if used appropriately, will minimize the damage done to defendants committing minor offenses. Fewer people's lives can be ruined, and the taxpayer costs can go down as a result of fewer people being imprisoned.
The new statute, 22 O.S. 234, provides that:
When determining the appropriate charge for a person accused of committing a criminal offense, the district attorney shall have the discretion to file the charge as a misdemeanor offense rather than a felony offense after considering the following factors:
1. The criminal offense for which the person has been arrested is not listed as a criminal offense in Section 13.1 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes;
2. The nature of the criminal offense;
3. The age, background and criminal history of the person who committed the criminal offense;
4. The character and rehabilitation needs of the person who committed the criminal offense; and
5. Whether it is in the best interests of justice to file the charge as a misdemeanor offense rather than a felony offense.
Here is a link to the new statute:
Here is a complete list of "85 percent" crimes:
Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, mistakes can sometimes haunt us for a very long time. A citizen of Oklahoma who has been charged with or convicted of a crime must meet certain requirements prescribed by law before his criminal record can be expunged. Before proceeding further, it should be noted that there are two kinds of "expungements" provided for under Oklahoma law. The first type of expungement is listed in 22 O.S. 991(c) and is for the sealing of COURT RECORDS upon the successful completion of a deferred sentence. Even when the court records are sealed, the criminal arrest record maintained by OSBI (that many employers reference when conducting background checks) will still reflect the incident.
The second type of expungement (and the focus of this blog post) provided for under Oklahoma law is the expungement of an offense from an individual's criminal arrest record. The requirements that one must meet before he is eligible for expungement of his criminal arrest record are spelled out in 22 O.S. §18. As mentioned in the title of this post, Oklahoma is "loosening" the requirements just a little bit. People who have made less serious mistakes will now be able clean up their record and get on with life sooner than they could before.
The first change to 22 O.S. §18 comes in subsection A(9) and concerns individuals charged with a nonviolent felony offense where the charge was dismissed due to the successful completion of a deferred sentence. Under current (but soon to be obsolete) law, these individuals must never have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and must wait 10 years after the dismissal of charges before being eligible for expungement. Under the new law taking effect in November 2016, these same individuals must never have been convicted of a felony (the misdemeanor language has been dropped) and now must wait only 5 years after the dismissal of charges before being eligible for expungement.
Another major change concerns those individuals who have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense. Under current law (changing in November), all misdemeanor convictions are treated equally. The convicted individual must wait 10 years after the end of his sentence, not have been convicted of a felony, and have no felony or misdemeanor charges pending. Under the new law (taking effect in November), individuals convicted of misdemeanors are divided into two different groups.
The first group consists of people convicted of "lesser" misdemeanors. These people have been charged with a misdemeanor and fined in an amount less than $501.00, have not been sentenced to a term of imprisonment or suspended sentence, and have satisfied their fine by payment or by serving time in lieu of the fine, have not been convicted of a felony, and have no misdemeanor or felony charges pending. The people in this group are eligible for expungement of their criminal record IMMEDIATELY upon the satisfaction of their fine given that they have no felony convictions or charges pending against them.
Group two under the new law consists of people convicted of "greater" misdemeanors. These individuals have been convicted of a misdemeanor and have been fined more than $500.00, and have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment or suspended sentence. Individuals in this group must wait 5 years (still better than 10) after the completion of their sentence, and have no other felony convictions or pending misdemeanor or felony charges.
At the end of the day, Oklahoma legislators have realized that not all mistakes are equal and have written the new law to let people convicted of less serious offenses make a quicker recovery. When people are given the chance to learn from their mistakes and get on with their lives more quickly, they are less likely to lose hope and begin a downward spiral. This is a big step forward for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is cracking down on DUI offenders. Under current (but soon to be obsolete) law, some drivers are able to rack up multiple DUI arrests in various cities and municipalities across the state without facing felony charges because their cases are handled in municipal courts that are not courts of record. Other, less fortunate drivers have their cases handled in district courts of record and face felony charges for their second DUI offense because Oklahoma Law provides that a second DUI offense within 10 years of the first constitutes a felony. The only municipal courts in Oklahoma that are courts of record are the municipal courts of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
In order to ensure that all Oklahoma drivers face the same penalty for multiple offenses, the new law, known as the Impaired Driving Elimination Act (IDEA), dictates that all DUI prosecutions will occur in courts of record. Any defendant that is arrested for DUI in a municipality without a court of record will have his case handled in the district court in the county where the municipality is located. The new law also establishes a new statewide database to track DUI offenses. Simply stated, all DUI offenses will be much more visible to the State, and repeat offenders will be vulnerable to being charged with a felony.. Last April, Governor Fallin signed the act into law, and the changes will take effect on November 1, 2016.
Now more than ever, drivers arrested for DUI will need diligent and zealous legal representation.