Incarceration in Oklahoma; Prison, Probation, Deferred Judgment

Friday, October 20, 2017 - 10:41am

So how does incarceration for crimes in Oklahoma work? I will lay it out in a nutshell:

(1) You can be convicted and go to prison or jail for a period of time set by the Court;

(2) You can be convicted and be sentenced to prison or jail for a period of time some or all of which is set aside by the Court, and;

(3) The Court can decide not to judge you yet.

Sentence of Incarceration. Most people seem to grasp what a direct sentence of incarceration entails.  The defendant goes to prison and stays there for a certain amount of time.  Afterwards they are released.  Questions about this tend to be something like, "How much time will I actually serve?"  This depends on a a lot of factors.  Oklahoma Department of Corrections Regulations indicate that inmates will serve at least one-third of their sentence prior to being released early based on good behavior.  So for any sentence a defendant should count on serving at least a third, though early release for non-violent offenders can occur.  There are also what are known as 50% and 85% crimes.  If the defendant is convicted of one of these crimes they can expect to serve the required percentage of their sentence prior to being released.  Aggravated Drug Trafficking, for instance, is an 85% crime, as is DUI manslaughter.  Possession of Controlled Dangerous Substances is an example of a 50% crime.

Suspended Sentence.  When a defendant receives a suspended sentence they have been sentenced to some period of incarceration.  For instance they might receive a sentence of "One Year in the Payne County Jail", however, the Court has suspended the service of that sentence provided that the defendant remains on good behavior.  Good behavior means that the defendant has paid his court costs and fines and has complied with all the rules of his probation (including paying the probation officers and following their instructions).  This can also include other requirements that depend upon the particulars of their case, for instance, drug rehabilitation.  If a defendant fails to abide by the terms of their probation then the State can file an Application to Revoke Suspended Sentence.  This requests the court to impose some or all of the incarceration that was suspended.  A defendant can be sentenced to the full term of incarceration despite good behavior for some or all of the time since sentencing.  For example, a defendant receives a 10 year suspended sentence.  He remains on good behavior for 9 years, but then is charged with a new crime.  The State asks the Court to revoke the suspended sentence and presents evidence of the new crime.  The Court can then order the incarceration of the defendant for ten years, despite the nine years of prior good behavior.

Deferred Judgment.  Deferred judgment is an option the Court has with first time offenders.  This looks a lot like a suspended sentence except that the recipient is not a convict.  The defendant, as with a suspended sentence, must remain on good behavior for the term of the deferrment.  At the end of the deferrment the Court should dismiss case and the Defendant can move for it to be deferred.  In the event of a violation, the State can file an Application to Accelerate Sentencing and the Court, upon presentation of evidence of the misbehavior of the defendant, can impose a sentence (including a suspended sentence) within the range of punishment of the original crime.  Judgement can be deferred for up to ten years.

If you are accused of a crime you have a significant problem and need legal representation as soon as possible.  Call today at (405) 601-9393.  We'd love to hear from you.





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