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.

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 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.

What to expect in a domestic violence legal proceeding

The first step in the 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 expert 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 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.

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 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 in the case 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.