Expanding Community Sentencing to Misdemeanor Offenders in Oklahoma.
Misdemeanor defendants are now eligible for community sentencing under a new law. I’m Oklahoma Attorney James Wirth we’re going over some new laws that have gone into effect recently. This one is HB 3135, and all it does, it’s a very, very small edit to an existing statute. It’s editing Title 22, Section 988.2, and that’s a statute related to community sentencing in Oklahoma. And it pretty much just removes a couple of words. It says, eligible offender means, instead of saying a felony offender, it says an offender, and talks about someone who pled guilty to a, instead of a felony offense, a crime.
So long story short, with it taking out a couple of different words in here, and adding a couple of other ones, now people that have misdemeanor convictions are also eligible for community sentencing, whereas before it required that you have a felony conviction to be eligible for that.
What is Community Sentencing?
Well, it’s a type of probation that can be entered by a plea agreement with the state and the defendant. It’s a diversion program, but it provides a certain type of supervision, separate from DOC supervision. Certain treatment services could be made available to the defendant, including personal development as well, as employment assistance. And all of those things previously were only available to someone who pled into a community sentencing based on a defer, I’m sorry, based on a felony conviction. Now it can be done on a misdemeanor as well.
However, just because it is eligible for someone who has a misdemeanor conviction, I think we may find that it’s not gonna be utilized as much for misdemeanors as felonies, because generally, the benefit of it to a felony conviction can be a lot greater. It’s like the drug court program, which can be a good program for someone who’s prison-bound based on a felony, but it’s a very onerous program.
Factors to Consider for Misdemeanor Defendants
Somebody who’s facing only a misdemeanor may not want to, or may not be best for them to jump through all the hoops of that program. It may be a better deal available elsewhere. I think as we’ve seen that for misdemeanor drug programs, we may see that as well for misdemeanors being allowed under community sentencing. It may require more work than the benefit that someone that’s facing a misdemeanor may feel. If you’ve got the potential of a long, big sentence hanging over your head for a felony, then it could be a lot more beneficial to complete and do the work for a program like that. You’re not gonna see as much incentive, I fear, for a misdemeanor offender. That said, it is available under the law now, so we can see how that plays out.
Consult an Attorney for Legal Advice
If you are a defendant dealing with those circumstances, or perhaps a loved one of yours is, or you have other questions about criminal defense or procedure in the state of Oklahoma, you’re gonna wanna talk to an attorney about that privately and confidentially to receive legal advice. To get that scheduled with a Tulsa misdemeanor lawyer in my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.