As an attorney, I strive to remain neutral and detached when providing information about changes to Oklahoma criminal law. Sometimes it's simply impossible to do so. Last November the people of Oklahoma voted for the passage of State Question 780, which reduces all simple drug possession charges to a misdemeanor. Not content to accept the will of the people, two state senators have authored bills to amend the newly passed law. The bills proposed are SB256 and SB398.
Of the two bills, SB398 is the least draconian and will be discussed first. As provided by SB398, "Any person convicted of a third or subsequent offense in this section shall be guilty of a felony punishable by confinement in the custody of the Department of Corrections of not more than five (5) years and by a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00)." In other words, three strikes and you're a felon.
Like SB398, the bill designated as SB256 provides for a "three strikes and you're a felon" approach but does seem to make an exception for marijuana. After three convictions, SB256 ratchets up the penalties for subsequent convictions.
Further, SB256 provides that any person who violates the law by possessing a controlled dangerous substance within five hundred (500) feet of a school shall be guilty of a felony. No exception is made for marijuana in this provision. Think about that.
Perhaps worst of all, SB256 provides that "In any case in which a defendant is charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance within any municipality with a municipal court other than a court of record, the charge shall be presented to the county's district attorney and filed with the district court of the county within which the municipality is located." In other words, the vast majority of local police departments will have no discretion as to where to submit charges. This bill wrests control from municipalities and gives it to the state. District court dockets will become backlogged even further and state correctional facilities will become even more over crowded.
Please call/write/email your state representatives and demand that they take all possible actions to defeat these bills.
Full text of SB256
Full text of SB398