A Misdemeanor on the Surface, a Felony in Disguise
Video Transcript: What is a predicate misdemeanor? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a lawyer in Tulsa, Oklahoma with the Wirth Law Office.
Today I want to talk about predicate misdemeanors. Now, what a predicate misdemeanor is, and sometimes they’re also called enhanceable misdemeanors. These are more serious misdemeanors that the first time you get busted, it is a misdemeanor. But if you get caught doing the same thing after you’ve been convicted previously, it becomes a felony.
Now, the classic example of a predicate misdemeanor is DUI. First offense on DUI is a misdemeanor charge. But if you have a conviction for DUI and you get charged again, you get arrested again and charged again, it’ll be a felony. Same thing with domestic violence charges. Same thing with a violation of a protective order charge. These are predicate misdemeanors. You get popped again, it’s a felony. Now, there is a wrinkle with that. Let’s say that you got busted and you plead guilty, but you get a deferral. That is not a conviction, and the statute is specific. It has to be a conviction. Not a guilty plea, not a deferral, a conviction.
So technically a deferral wouldn’t set you up for a felony charge next time, although what it probably will mean is you’re not getting another deferral. Because if the state knows you’ve been on deferral before for the same offense, or you have other criminal history, they’re probably going to recommend a suspended sentence or jail time. And either way, you’re going to get a conviction and that will set it up to be a felony next time. Now, one thing to know about predicate misdemeanors is the court will typically lean on you pretty hard to have an attorney for that precisely because it is enhanceable. And you should have an attorney. You really should.
These types of criminal charges carry serious consequences. They can take your freedom away. And like I said, if you get nailed once, then you could potentially be looking at a felony down the road if you do it again, so it’s really important to have a good attorney. And also, a lot of predicate misdemeanors, as an aside, also could potentially have immigration consequences.
So if you are not here as a citizen and you get popped for a predicate misdemeanor, a lot of them do have consequences under immigration law that you will not like. So that’s another reason to get a good lawyer. And one place you can find a good misdemeanor defense attorney in Oklahoma is at makelaweasy.com, and we’ll help you out.