What is a felony domestic charge, and how long does the DA have to file?

Domestic abuse in Oklahoma can be either a misdemeanor or felony charge. 

Understanding your rights and what to expect when facing such charges is important.

From our Oklahoma defense attorneys at Jacqui Ford Law, this blog will walk you through the various circumstances that can make a domestic abuse case become felony charges and guide you through how long the district attorney has to file charges against you.

What makes domestic abuse a felony in Oklahoma?

Generally speaking, your first domestic abuse case will be charged as a misdemeanor

With a misdemeanor, you’ll only face up to a year in jail and a possible fine of up to $5,000. For subsequent domestic abuse cases, you’ll face felony charges. 

If your domestic abuse arrest shows a pattern of prior abuse, however, you could face felony charges. The District Attorney will work to prove a pattern of abuse through sworn witness accounts or proof of a prior history of police calls out to your home for domestic abuse.

Additionally, you could face felony charges for domestic abuse if you used a dangerous weapon in the course of threatening or harming the other individual. In this case, you could face up to 10 years in prison. 

If you shoot a domestic relation, you could serve a life term in prison.

Strangulation is another way your domestic abuse charges could be elevated to a felony. No matter the circumstances, if you used strangulation or threatened strangulation, you could face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. Other future strangulation domestic abuse situations could leave you facing up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $20,000. 

How long does the District Attorney have to file felony charges?

After you’ve been arrested for domestic abuse, the District Attorney has 60 days to file felony charges against you. 

However, if you’ve been arrested on suspicion of first or second-degree murder charges, aggravated kidnapping, or aggravated rape, the District Attorney has 120 from the date of your arrest to file charges. 

In situations where the suspect has been bonded from jail, the District Attorney then has 150 days from the date of that individual’s arrest to file charges. 

If the District Attorney fails to file charges within the allotted time frame based on the specific circumstances surrounding your arrest, you might have a right to be released from jail or your bail obligations. 

It’s important to note that being released from jail does not mean you won’t face felony charges for the offense. It just means law enforcement cannot continue to keep you in jail without further proof of your offenses.

What’s a suspended or deferred sentence?

In domestic assault and battery cases, the courts can grant a deferred or suspended sentence. 

This would allow the court to delay proceedings without entering a final decision to either convict you or dismiss your case. Generally, a suspended or deferred sentence includes specific conditions that the defendant must comply with.

In these cases, you can serve your sentence at least part of the time on probation so long as you follow the rules for your probation. This allows you to minimize your time in jail. Suspended or deferred sentencing can be helpful when your case has a challenging or unlikely defense. 

Here’s what typically happens with a suspended or deferred sentence: 

  • If there isn’t a protective order in place, the court will issue one to protect the victim. 
  • Another condition of the suspended or deferred sentence is attending remedial activities. This might include anger management or substance abuse classes. 
  • You also might be required to attend therapy or complete community service for your remedial activities.

Contact Jacqui Ford Law for help with your domestic abuse defense today

Jacqui Ford Law offers a free consultation to learn more about your criminal defense needs. We’ll walk you through our process and guide you in the next steps for your case. Contact us today.

What is the statute of limitations on domestic violence in Oklahoma?

A statute of limitations is the allowable time frame for prosecutors to bring about criminal charges against a defendant. 

Section 152 of title 22 of Oklahoma’s statutes outlines the law regarding when the prosecution can bring about criminal charges. Many criminal acts have a statute of limitations of three years from the date of the crime.

Some crimes have lengthier statutes of limitations, but because domestic violence does not have a specific timeframe listed, it falls under the general three-year limit. 

This means that a victim cannot come forth more than three years after a domestic violence event and have law enforcement seek charges against the accused person. However, if they claim domestic violence is ongoing and there are events within the last three years, someone could still face these charges.

To help you understand domestic violence cases, our team of Oklahoma defense attorneys at Jacqui Ford Law has outlined the stages that these cases go through. This way, you’ll know what to expect from start to finish

  • Facing a Domestic Violence complaint and investigation

When a victim files a complaint of domestic violence, it is not up to a victim whether or not to file criminal charges for domestic violence in Oklahoma. Instead, law enforcement will make this decision. 

Alternatively, law enforcement might witness domestic violence, or another witness – such as a neighbor or family member – might come forward with a complaint. Once there is proof that domestic violence might be occurring, law enforcement can open an investigation.

Even during this early questioning phase while law enforcement is gathering details, you should retain an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney. That way you ensure you don’t say or do the wrong thing during this early phase of the case.

  • Arrests for Domestic Violence in Oklahoma

If there is enough proof that domestic violence occurred, the prosecution might issue a warrant for your arrest. When this happens, employ your right to remain silent until your Oklahoma defense attorney is present. 

  • Pre-trial hearing

Once you’ve been arrested for domestic violence, you’ll face an arraignment hearing. You’ll need to appear in court for this. During this time, the prosecution must advise you of the charges you’re facing and explain your legal rights. 

At this point, you need to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Most attorneys will advise that you enter a not guilty plea during this phase. You can always change your plea if the prosecution offers a fair plea bargain later.

  • Plea bargaining

Between arraignment and your actual trial, your defense attorney will be working to learn more about the evidence against you. Depending on the evidence, your attorney might enter into plea bargain negotiations. 

A plea bargain is when both you and the prosecutor enter into an agreement in exchange for lesser charges and sentencing. While it often includes pleading guilty to charges, the charges and penalties you face are generally not as severe as the charges you could have faced in court.

Having a good lawyer will help immensely at this phase of the process. Your attorney can show areas of weakness in the prosecution’s case to further motivate them to negotiate – or get the domestic violence charges dropped altogether

  • Trial

If negotiations don’t go well or your attorney feels like the plea bargains the prosecution is offering are not fair, your case will go to trial. At trial, the prosecution will be working hard to prove that you’re guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Meanwhile, your attorney will bring forth witnesses and evidence for your defense. Ultimately, the judge or jury will make the call about your guilt in the case.

Contact Jacqui Ford to get started on your defense

Jacqui Ford Law has been providing criminal defense services for the people of Oklahoma for more than a decade. If you need an attorney who will fight for your rights if you’ve been accused of domestic violence or any other crime in Oklahoma City, schedule a free consultation with our office.

What happens to first-time domestic violence offenders?

First-time domestic violence offenders are certainly viewed more favorably than those who have a history of domestic abuse. 

A first offense is generally charged as a misdemeanor so long as there are no aggravating circumstances. In this case, the suspect could face up to one year in jail, a fine up to $5,000, or a combination of both jail time and a fine.

However, once an individual has been charged with one domestic abuse charge, the courts will view any repeat offenses as a pattern in the behavior and will act more harshly to protect the community from future domestic violence from the perpetrator.

From our team of dedicated Oklahoma criminal defense attorneys, here’s everything you need to know about a first-time domestic violence charge.

What to expect in a domestic violence legal proceeding in Oklahoma

The first step in the domestic violence legal process is that the accused person gets arrested. 

Then, an arraignment takes place. During an arraignment, the courts make it clear what the suspect is being accused of. 

At this point, the individual on trial will enter a plea. 

It is very important to seek experienced criminal defense counsel before your arraignment. The decision you make about entering a plea is crucial to the future of your case. You can change your plea at any point in the process; however, it’s best to get it right from the start with how you enter your plea. 

After the arraignment, the courts will issue the defendant new court dates for the rest of the legal proceedings. Your criminal defense attorney might engage in pre-trial negotiations during this time. Throughout this process, your lawyer will spend time learning the following for your case:

  • The facts in the case against you
  • Your criminal history (if any)
  • Your victim’s history
  • The extent of injuries (if any)
  • Other facts and details that relate to the case

Your Oklahoma defense lawyer will need to investigate details about the case in their quest to build your defense. This can sometimes mean discussing the matter with any witnesses, including character witnesses. 

Even if you’re not physically in a courtroom in front of a judge, your attorney will be working hard to build your criminal defense against the domestic violence charges to earn a favorable outcome or to get your case dismissed entirely.

How does a misdemeanor affect my record?

Misdemeanor convictions do not have the same severe consequences that felony charges do

However, a misdemeanor still gives you a criminal record and could make it more difficult to prove your innocence in future criminal cases. 

Similarly, if a job application asks if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, you’ll need to answer yes and the misdemeanor will show on your record during the background check

In some cases, an employer may only request criminal records back a set number of years. However, you don’t want to rely on that being the case.

There is no set time for which a misdemeanor will no longer show on your criminal record. It will remain there unless you petition to have it expunged or sealed

Although most first-time domestic violence charges are only a misdemeanor, it is not something you want to just plead guilty to and accept. You should still hire an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney to defend you to avoid a conviction. 

How you can help prepare a domestic violence defense with your lawyer?

As your lawyer works to build your domestic violence defense, they might look to you for additional details. 

You should try to provide as much detail as possible that might help in favorable negotiations. 

These details might include:

  • Violent history of the victim
  • Previous false accusations the victim made
  • The victim’s psychological state
  • Proof of victim drug or alcohol abuse
  • Any other details that might explain the violence between you

Contact Jacqui Ford Law for help your defense

Jacqui Ford Law is a team of fierce defense attorneys. Whether your domestic abuse case is your first or subsequent offense, we’ll protect your rights. Contact us to schedule a free consultation to learn more about our criminal defense services.

How can a domestic violence case be dropped in Oklahoma?

Does a domestic violence charge show up on a background check in Oklahoma?

Facing a domestic violence charge is not something you should take lightly. If convicted, the case will have far-reaching effects on your life, including impacts on where you live, your career, and your family. 

That’s because domestic violence will likely show up on a background check. 

Depending on the depth of the background check, even domestic violence charges that are dropped will show up on a background check, and you’ll have to explain them to the hiring manager. Domestic violence charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, but even a misdemeanor will show up on a background check during a job search, housing interview, etc. 

In this blog, our team of Oklahoma domestic violence defense attorneys at Jacqui Ford Law explain what a domestic violence charge might entail, what you can expect during a case, and the impacts a conviction could have on your daily life.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can take many forms. Even though it includes the word violence, it does not necessarily mean that you’ve harmed a person physically. 

You might be charged with domestic violence if you are accused of any of the following:

  • Harming someone
  • Assaulting someone 
  • Stalking someone
  • Threatening someone

Additionally, breaching a restraining order can constitute a domestic violence violation. Attempting to control or manipulate someone you live in a domestic relationship with can also be classified as domestic violence.

The following parties can bring about domestic violence charges.

  • Spouse/former spouse
  • Girlfriend/boyfriend
  • Child/foster child
  • Parent
  • Anyone who currently or previously lived with you (i.e., roommate or housemate)

Domestic violence conviction and penalties

The largest penalties at stake in a domestic violence include your career, custody of children, and even your living situation.

But there are other penalties such as fines and jail time, as well.

First-time offenses (where the accused has no history of violence or domestic abuse) are generally classified as misdemeanors in Oklahoma, which could lead to up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. 

However, subsequent convictions will mean a felony charge and up to four years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Those who have a history of violence could face up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, if you committed domestic violence in the presence of a child, you’ll face more serious charges and a minimum of six months in jail. 

Domestic violence against a woman who the accused knows is pregnant will also increase the severity of the situation and will generally be felony charges. 

Impacts of domestic violence on background checks

While the pains of the court case, jail time, and fines will be challenging if convicted, the long-term effect comes in the fact that you now have a criminal record. 

Anytime someone runs a background check on you, they’ll see your conviction. 

Felony charges are much harder to work around – but don’t assume that a misdemeanor charge won’t also have an impact on your ability to find and retain a job. Either way, you’ll likely be barred from working in public employment or in a profession that requires a professional license.

Finding a good domestic violence legal team

Don’t assume that it’s your word against that of your accuser in a domestic violence case. People are sometimes surprised by convictions because they figure that the accuser doesn’t have adequate proof.

Instead, take this valuable time to work with an experienced Oklahoma domestic violence defense attorney to protect your good name. Your attorney will work with you to build your case. Even in cases where a defense attorney cannot avoid all charges for their client, they can often get them decreased to lesser charges to preserve your way of life.

Need domestic violence defense in Oklahoma? Contact Jacqui Ford Law

Jacqui Ford Law has extensive experience defending individuals charged with domestic violence. Our legal defense team won’t rest until your case is complete. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.