Not All Life Sentences Are the Same
Video Transcribed: How long is a life sentence in Oklahoma? I’m an attorney in Tulsa, Okla, James Wirth, and we’re talking about various issues in criminal procedure in the state of Oklahoma. The question we have before us in this video is, how long is a life sentence? When somebody gets sentenced by a jury or a judge to life, how does that factor in compared to other sentences, like maybe somebody gets 25 years or 75 years?
The answer is, is that calculations related to parole in an early release put a life sentence at 45 years, which means that if it is an 85% crime, some of the more serious offenses are listed as 85% crimes where you have to serve at least 85% of your time before you’re eligible for parole, then that means if you get a life sentence, you take 85% of the 45 years and you get 38 1/4 years. At that point, you would be eligible for parole. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be granted parole, but you’re eligible to have that request and hearing.
Now, if the offense for which you’ve received a life sentence is not an 85% crime, then you’re going to be eligible for parole consideration depending on when the crime was committed, either after a third of the time or after a quarter of the time, a third of the time being 15 years you’d have to serve before being eligible for parole consideration, but if the crime is committed after November 1st of 2018, then it’s under the new statute that provides that you only have to serve 25% of your sentence before being eligible for parole, so that looks like 11 1/4 years that would have to be served before being eligible. It doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be released, but you are eligible to have a parole hearing at that point.
However, not all life sentences are the same. In Oklahoma, we have another sentence called life without the possibility of parole, or LWOP. If it’s an LWOP, then there is no parole and you will be in jail for the rest of your life unless your conviction is vacated or there’s a commutation or something along those lines.
How long is life? It’s 45 years, based on how the Department of Corrections in Oklahoma handles it. If you’ve got questions about serving time, criminal defense, criminal procedure, in the state of Oklahoma, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about your specific circumstances. To speak with somebody at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.