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Questions and Answers About Charges

If you are charged with a crime, the State of Oklahoma is already preparing their case against you. You probably have a lot of questions. Here is some information that could be beneficial to you.

QUESTION: Do I have to talk to the police?

ANSWER: No, absolutely not. Always request an attorney! If you have done something wrong, talking to the police will probably make matters worse. Innocent people do go to prison. Even if you have done nothing wrong, if you are being questioned by the police, always request an attorney.

QUESTION: If I have been charged with a felony in the State of Oklahoma, what is the procedure?

ANSWER:
Step 1: You will first have an initial appearance. At this appearance you will be informed of the charges against you. You will be given a copy of the Information, which is how the State of Oklahoma charges individuals with a crime. It is a good idea to have an attorney present at your initial appearance; however, the Court will afford you more time to retain an attorney if you do not have one at your initial appearance.

Step 2 - Preliminary Hearing: Under the Oklahoma Constitution, all individuals charged with a felony are entitled to a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is a probable cause hearing in which the State of Oklahoma must put forth enough evidence to convince an impartial judge that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the charged individual committed that crime. If the State fails to meet its burden of proof, the case will be dismissed. At the preliminary hearing the defendant will have an opportunity to review all the State’s evidence they intend to offer against the individual. You will have an opportunity to confront and cross-examine witnesses and present evidence of your own. If the State meets its burden of proof, the individual will be bound over for District Court arraignment. Keep in mind, probable cause is a relatively easy burden for the State to meet.

Step 3 - District Court Arraignment: At the District Court arraignment, the charged individual will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges. If you enter a plea of guilty, sentencing is the next step. If you enter a plea of not guilty, a trial date will be set.

Step 4 - Trial: All defendants have right to a trial by jury of their peers. To be convicted of a crime in the State of Oklahoma, the defendant’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant has a right to confront witnesses against him or her, cross-examine all State witnesses and present a defense.

POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF MY CASE:

Dismissal: The State may dismiss the criminal charges against any defendant at any time. There are many reasons the State may chose to dismiss the charges. The State may dismiss on the merits of the case, a key State witness may fail to appear, or the judge may order a dismissal based upon pretrial motions and evidence. If the case is dismissed without prejudice, the State may re-file charges at its discretion, as long as it is within the statute of limitations. If the case is dismissed with prejudice, the State may not re-file charges.

Deferred
Sentence: When a defendant is placed on a deferred sentence, the individual enters a plea of guilty to the charges set forth in the information. Although the individual enters a plea of guilty, the Court does not enter a finding of guilt at that time. The finding of guilt is deferred for a period of time, allowing the charged individual to complete the terms and conditions of probation as per the plea agreement. If the charged individual successfully completes all the terms and conditions of probation, the Court will allow the charged individual to withdraw his guilty plea. The Court will then dismiss and expunge the charged individual’s record.

Suspended
Sentence: When a charged individual enters a plea of guilty to a suspended sentence, a conviction will appear on his record. For the term of the suspended sentence, if the charged individual abides by the terms and conditions of probation, he or she will be allowed to remain out of custody. If the charged individual violates any terms or conditions of his probation, the State may file an application to revoke the suspended sentence and seek incarceration for the entire term of the suspended sentence.

Incarceration: Most crimes in the State of Oklahoma carry the possibility of incarceration. The term of incarceration may be anywhere from one day to life without parole. It is sometimes unavoidable that individuals charged with a crime will be sentenced to either the County Jail or the Department of Corrections.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME

You have a right to be represented by an attorney. If you are charged with a crime, or if you are suspected of committing a crime, always ask to be represented by an attorney. You must make this demand clearly so that there is no confusion as to your wishes. Do not speak to the police. They are not there to help you. The Police Department is trying to build a case against you and the best way to do that is to use your own statements against you.

If you are being questioned by the police in connection with a crime, always ask if you are free to leave. If they say yes, leave immediately. Do not give a statement to the police. If they say you are not free to leave, ask to speak with an attorney immediately.

HOW DO I FIND AN ATTORNEY?

You can contact Taylor, Ryan, Schmidt, Van Dalsem & Williams, P.C., directly or the Oklahoma Bar Association website has a referral list of criminal defense attorneys in your area. You may also check with the County Bar Association in your particular county. These resources should have a list of qualified and competent criminal defense attorneys in your area.

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Taylor, Ryan, Schmidt, Van Dalsem & Williams, P.C.
850 Boulder Towers, 1437 South Boulder Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74119
Phone: 918-948-6958
Toll Free: 866-761-7693
Fax: 918-749-9531