What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, persons charged with criminal offenses are advised to get adequate representation to navigate the criminal justice system. When a person faces charges for a crime in Oklahoma, law enforcement officers arrest the person, and the person and may spend some time in jail while awaiting trial. The court holds bond hearings soon after arrest; in some cases, the day after arrest. In making bail decisions, the judge may consider the accused’s criminal history, the nature of the charge against the accused person, and the likelihood of the person attending all court hearings as required by the court. If the judge grants bail, the accused will return home but must attend all court hearings. If the judge does not grant bail, the accused person will be held in custody while awaiting trial.
The court system has pre-trial, trial, and post-trial processes for criminal offenses. Depending on the severity of the offense, or the plea the accused person enters, some criminal cases do not go to trial. The court dismisses some cases, and some go straight to sentencing. While accused persons may choose to be self-represented, having an attorney will help accused persons navigate the criminal justice system faster and easier.
What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, a large percentage of criminal convictions are the result of plea deals and guilty pleas. This statistic means that only a small percentage of criminal cases go to trial. It can take a while for criminal cases to go to trial; therefore, to avoid delays, uncertainty, and extended pre-trial custody time, many defendants choose to accept plea deals or settle criminal cases without trials.
When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?
Criminal defendants have the right to a fair, open, and speedy trial. Defendants also have the right to a jury trial, although, with the court and state’s approval, a defendant may choose to waive the right to a jury trial. At a jury trial, a 12-member jury determines innocence or guilt. Misdemeanor offenses involve a six-member jury. Each member is chosen randomly from a pool of citizens. There is no jury at a bench trial; only the judge determines whether the accused is guilty or innocent.
Depending on the offense the accused person committed, the court notifies the accused person at an arraignment or preliminary hearing of the right to a trial.
What are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in Oklahoma?
Here are the stages of a criminal trial in Oklahoma:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Evidence presentation
- Witness testimony
- Direct examination and cross-examination of witnesses
- Closing statements
- Jury deliberation
How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Oklahoma?
State and federal laws guarantee the right to a speedy trial; however, the time it takes for a case to go to trial in Oklahoma depends on the severity of the offense, the number of motions and hearings involved, and the court schedule. Oklahoma defendants have a right to a trial without unreasonable delays. According to state laws, if the state holds the defendant in custody, the case must go to trial within 12 months, and felony offenses must go to trial within 18 months. If a case does not go to trial within the time limits provided by the law, the court must review the case immediately to determine whether the accused’s rights are still protected.
What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Oklahoma?
When a court case goes to trial in Oklahoma, what follows is dependent on whether it is a jury trial or a bench trial. In jury trials, the first process is jury selection. The court selects a six to 12-member panel from a random pool of citizens and interviews them to determine suitability and impartiality. After the jury selection, the attorneys for the state and the defendant make opening arguments. The next steps are witness testimonies and evidence presentation; the prosecution and defense call up witnesses to testify and present evidence to disprove or confirm the statements. The prosecution then cross-examines the defense’s witness and vice versa. The burden on the prosecution is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.
After the attorneys have examined witnesses and presented evidence, the prosecution and defense attorneys make closing arguments, and the judge charges the jury. The jury then retires for deliberation. The jury’s verdict must be unanimous; otherwise, the judge may declare a mistrial. If the jury delivers a unanimous guilty verdict, the judge sentences the accused. The sentencing may be immediately after the jury’s verdict or scheduled for another day. In bench trials, the judge determines guilt or innocence.
Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Oklahoma?
No, a person cannot be put on trial twice for the same crime in Oklahoma. According to state laws, no one can be put in danger of double jeopardy or tried twice for the same offense without the person’s consent. Under this law, if a judge dismisses a case after evidence presented by the attorneys due to a lack of evidence or unavailability of witnesses, the case counts as a trial.
Additionally, federal laws protect all United States citizens against double jeopardy. However, if an act constitutes an offense under the laws of Oklahoma and another state, or under Oklahoma laws and federal laws, then the different states or different courts may charge and try the accused person.
How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Oklahoma?
Interested parties may request criminal court case records from the record custodian in the court where the case is ongoing or where the judge heard the case. According to the Open Records Act, members of the public may freely request public court records. Alternatively, interested parties may lookup court records using government-provided portals and third-party websites. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections Offender Records may also provide interested parties criminal court case information. However, the website may only contain information provided by the Department of Corrections. The website also may not contain information about ongoing cases.
How to Access Electronic Court Records in Oklahoma
Through government-sponsored and third-party websites, the Oklahoma Court System provides electronic access to court information on different websites. These websites allow users to search for court records using criteria such as:
- Court address
- Party name
- Party type
- Case number
- Date of birth
- Case type
- Filing date
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, expungement is the removal of court records from public view. Only law enforcement and the courts can access expunged records, and for judicial use only. Oklahoma provides for expungement under the following circumstances:
- The offender was under 18 at the time of the offense.
- The accused person committed the offense as a result of human trafficking.
- The court dismissed or deferred the misdemeanor or felony charge.
- The record holder does not have any other pending charges.
Interested parties may file a motion for expungement at the court that heard the case.