Oklahoma Felony Laws: What You Need to Know
What is a Felony in Oklahoma?
While some states classify felonies into distinct categories (such as Class A-D felonies), Oklahoma is one of a few states that does not make a distinction between different classes of crime. In fact, any crime that is punishable by death or imprisonment in a state prison is classified as a felony under Oklahoma State Law.
Angela Singleton is dedicated to making a general knowledge of Oklahoma criminal law accessible to as many people as possible. Because of the difference in how felonies are defined in Oklahoma compared to other states, there may be some confusion as to how a criminal proceeding occurs when all non-misdemeanors are classified as felonies.
We hope that this guide to understanding Oklahoma felonies will clear up some of the potential confusion and ultimately help our clients better understand our state’s criminal laws.
A felony in Oklahoma is broadly defined as any crime resulting in either a death sentence or imprisonment. With this in mind, any crime not punishable by these two things is defined as a misdemeanor. While a misdemeanor is ultimately a “less serious” crime than a felony, it can still carry with it lasting repercussions.
Similar to the lack of distinction in felony sentences, misdemeanors are not categorized from least to most serious. Instead, sentences are given out on a “by crime” basis. This means that two people committing similar (but ultimately, different) crimes may receive vastly different sentences.
Examples of misdemeanors in Oklahoma include:
- Selling lottery tickets;
- Betting on an election;
- Asking or receiving unauthorized reward for official act;
- False rumors/slander;
- Harboring endangered runaway child;
- Furnishing tobacco products to a minor;
- Riot or unlawful assembly; and
- Reckless Driving (such as DUI or DWI)
Each of these misdemeanor sentences could result in hefty fines and jail time, up to one year and $1000 respectively. In addition, some misdemeanors (such as a reckless driving or DUI) may also incur penalties to a person’s driving record if convicted.
List of Felonies in Oklahoma
Felonies in Oklahoma are treated on a “by crime” basis similar to misdemeanors, but often have permanent consequences that extend well past jail time, fines and a potential death sentence. Because of the lack of felony distinction, all felonies are treated equally in the eyes of Oklahoma state law. While the ranges of potential punishment vary from crime to crime a person convicted of any felony crime, from a DUI to a Homicide, loses valuable constitutional rights.
Examples of felonies in Oklahoma include:
- Second DUI offense, if committed while on probation or within 10 years of finishing another sentence for DUI;
- Homicide (commonly called murder);
- Sexual assault;
- Aggravated assault;
- Domestic Abuse;
- Drug possession with intent to distribute;
- Robbery; and
- Drug trafficking
Felonies can (and do) carry lasting repercussions that can ultimately bar felons from certain professions, activities and positions, as well as rights granted by the United States Constitution. These include:
- The inability to vote during sentence, sit on a jury, run for public office within 15 years of a sentence, and bear arms;
- The inability to be employed by the state;
- The inability to be elevated to certain positions, such as a liquor dealer, funeral director or chiropractor;
- The possibility of having a driver’s license revoked; and
- The inability to pursue certain professions altogether, such as law, medicine, pharmacy or marriage and domestic counseling.
Felons are often unfairly targeted even after they have served their sentences, and can fall victim to a number of unfortunate circumstances years (or even decades) after finishing their time. This can include disenfranchisement, exclusion from certain licenses (such as visas), ineligibility to adopt or foster children, and ineligibility for certain loans (such as welfare or federal student loans).
Oklahoma Felony Guide FAQs
Felony Vs Misdemeanor?
The two terms are basically used to divide and categorize less and more serious crimes. Misdemeanors are not considered to be as bad and generally involve lighter sentences. Felonies are considered to be very serious or even capital crimes and usually come with sentences involving long periods in prison, large fines, and many other repercussions.
Most states divide felonies further into subcategories such as Class A, Class B, etc. Oklahoma is the only state that does not do this. So any one felony is just as serious as any other if you are convicted and it appears o your criminal record.
Can A Felony Conviction Affect My Constitutional Rights?
Yes. The actual punishments such as jail time and fines vary depending on the crime you are convicted of, but if you are convicted of a felony you will lose some of your constitutional rights. You may not be able to sit on a jury, accept a state job, carry a weapon, or be prohibited from pursuing a profession in areas like medicine, law, and a long list of other types of work.
How Long Does A Felony Stay On Your Record In Oklahoma?
Felony convictions and even arrests will stay on your record permanently unless they are expunged. This is a formal legal process you must go through to get the conviction removed from your record. It is only an option for certain types of felony offenses.
Can A Felony Conviction Affect Me Financially?
Having a felony conviction on your record can make you ineligible for welfare, federal student loans and other types of specific loans.
Can Misdemeanor Charges Become Felony Charges?
Yes, it is possible that crimes which are normally charged as a misdemeanor can be moved up to a felony charge. A second DUI offense in Oklahoma is a good example. A normal DUI conviction will be a misdemeanor, but a second offense will be charged as a felony.
Contact an Experienced Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney
Understanding your legal rights prior to receiving a misdemeanor or felony conviction is critical prior to a set court date. It is true that the odds can be stacked against you during this highly stressful period, but with proper preparation, a general understanding of Oklahoma state law and expert legal representation, you stand a better chance to have the charges against you reduced or expunged completely.
For more information about misdemeanors and felonies in Oklahoma, or to inquire about representation for your upcoming court date, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.