Oklahoma State Vs. Federal White Collar Crimes

Oklahoma State Vs. Federal White Collar Crimes

There are a great many differences between Federal and State prosecutions, which an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney like our team at Jacqui Ford Law could dwell upon for hours upon hours. However, for the sake of brevity, only a few items will be discussed in this blog.

Everyone has heard the old saying: “The Pen is mightier than the Sword.” If one gives some thought to the saying, it becomes self-evident, especially in a nation that has a very active First Amendment right.

There is a version of the above saying, utilized by Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys: “You can steal more with a Pen than you can with a gun.”

That’s where white collar crime comes in.

What is White Collar Crime in Oklahoma?

When you use the term “white collar crime” everyone thinks of “hot checks” or “bogus checks” or “bounced checks,” but white collar crimes comes in many forms:

  • Embezzlement
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Fraud, both public and private
  • Check kiting schemes
  • Tax evasion and Fraud (note: it is not a crime to avoid taxes, but it is a crime to evade filing and paying your State and Federal taxes)
  • False and fraudulent filing of claims with private employers and Government agencies
  • Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security fraud
  • Workers’ compensation fraud and false claims

The list goes on and on.

What is the difference between State and Federal White Collar Crime?

  1. The first and most important difference between State and Federal white collar crime is the jurisdiction.

    The Federal Government’s jurisdiction over white collar crime is one of limited jurisdiction. Usually, the Federal government does not prosecute “hot checks,” and leaves that to local authorities. The exception is when there is “aggravated identity theft or an organized group conducting fraudulent transactions involving many different banks over state lines.”

    For example, money theft from an FDIC licensed bank by a teller will bring a swift reaction from the Secret Service or the FBI because this is a Federal crime, with virtually exclusive jurisdiction by the federal government. Most importantly, the banks MUST report the theft to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, regardless of the fact that the money was paid back in full and the employee was terminated.

    The same goes for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, The United States Postal Service, and ALL Military institutions. (Very few criminal defense attorneys realize that you can be issued a DUI by a Federal Agent on a lake patrolled by Federal law enforcement. The DUI is handled in Federal Court, just like any other Federal Crime. Many Federal Criminal defense attorneys have appeared in Federal Court with their clients charged with DUI, from a weekend of fun on a lake patrolled by Federal Agents, after driving their boat while under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately for them, it really does turn into a “Federal Case.”)

    It is safe to say that Federal law enforcement and prosecutors more often than not will decline to file on a questionable jurisdiction rather than try to stretch the facts to bring a case into federal jurisdiction.

  2. The second difference between State and Federal white collar crime is the treatment of individuals who are convicted of a white collar crime.

    In 1984, the United States Congress passed the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) which attempted to achieve uniform sentences for all individuals convicted of a Federal Crime. Congress felt that there was a massive disparity between sentences across the United States between different Circuits and attempted to create a uniform sentencing regime.

    To date, there have been over 100,000 cases involving the USSG and their sentencing. The U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Booker ruled that the USSG was “advisory” and not mandatory, thereby giving United States District Court Judges the ability and discretion to give a sentence that achieved the original purpose of the Federal sentencing regime.

    The USSG created a schedule of “losses” based upon a dollar amount that was then assigned an “enhanced point amount” that increased the sentencing range of a person convicted of a “financial crime.” The dollar amount ranged from “zero to $25,000,000” and enhanced an individual’s sentencing range accordingly.

What else do I need to know about white collar crime in Oklahoma?

As is always the case with schedules and charts, they are subject to interpretation.

An example: an individual was convicted of stealing credit cards, and using those credit cards in the amount of $5000. The District Court added the credit limit of the credit cards and the potential loss and used the scheduling chart to enhance the individual’s prison sentence. In this example, the “actual” loss was $5000, but the credit card had a credit limit of $50,000. The Court increased the “loss” to $50,000 rather than $5000 because it had the potential of having a loss of $50,000, and sentenced the individual according. The Appellate Court agreed.

Under federal law, aggravated identify theft — which involves the actual “stealing of another person’s identity” — carries a minimum mandatory sentence of two (2) years, which is consecutive to the regular sentence a person would receive. Congress felt that if a thief actually stole someone’s identity, then they should be punished more harshly than a common thief that just used the credit card as it was printed.

The system established by the USSG leaves little room for any type of probation for a white collar crime. It is safe to say that all federal white collar crimes WILL result in actual prison time.

Additionally, the USSG virtually eliminated any type of probation or paper time. And while in federal prison, you must serve 85% of the sentence because there is no parole in the Federal system.

Contact Jacqui Ford Law today

If the federal government is after you for any type of white collar crime, you must obtain the professional services of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney, and you must do this as soon as possible.

Contact us today to learn how our team can help.

All about embezzlement crimes in Oklahoma

Embezzlement in Oklahoma is a type of property theft that deals with violating trust (as in you were trusted not to steal). It is typically considered a “white collar crime.

Contrary to popular belief, embezzlement is not limited to workplaces. It can be a family member who’s supposed to handle finances for an elderly or sick family member, then the person is found to have taken the money for themselves.

The severity of the crime and the possible penalties for an embezzlement conviction vary depending on how much money or the value of the property taken.

Read on to learn more about Oklahoma embezzlement crimes and punishments from experienced criminal defense attorney Jacqui Ford.

What are the laws on embezzlement in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, embezzlement is defined as the illegal taking of money or other property by someone who had a responsibility to handle the money or property, but had no legal right to take the money or property for themselves and their own personal gain.

Here’s how Oklahoma punishes embezzlement crimes:

  • Property valued $500 or less: if convicted, the defendant could get up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
  • Property valued between $500 and $1,000: if convicted, the defendant could get up to $5,000 in fines, one year in jail, as well as being forced to pay restitution. Restitution is compensation paid to the victims of crimes.
  • Property valued between $1,000 and $25,000: If convicted, you could get up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and he or she could be forced to pay restitution.
  • Property worth more than $25,000: This conviction will result in the harshest penalties. He or she could get up to 10 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and restitution.

Is there a statute of limitations on embezzlement charges in Oklahoma?

The statute of limitations is the maximum time after an event after which legal proceedings may be initiated.

There are two different statutes of limitations when it comes to embezzlement charges in Oklahoma:

  • Embezzlement cases involving theft of public property or public money (i.e. stealing from a government agency) have a statute of limitations of seven years. That means prosecutors have seven years from the time the alleged theft occurred to press charges.
  • Embezzlement cases involving private money or private property have a statute of limitations of five years. That means prosecutors have five years from the date of the alleged theft to press charges.

It’s also important to note that prosecution must be commenced from the discovery of the embezzlement.

Contact Jacqui Ford Law for help with your Oklahoma embezzlement case

As you can see, embezzlement is as serious as it sounds, with the potential for big fines and time behind bars. If you or someone you love is accused of embezzlement, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Jacqui Ford’s office today to schedule your free consultation.

Accused of embezzlement in Oklahoma? Here’s what you need to know

Embezzlement is a big and scary word for a certain type of property theft.

It’s the kind of property theft that happens when someone entrusted to manage someone else’s money or a business’ money steals from the person or business and uses it for personal gain.

The big factor in embezzlement cases is that the person accused of stealing did not have ownership of the money or property, but the person did have access to it. Basically, embezzlement is stealing with the added factor of being trusted to oversee the very thing that was stolen.

At Jacqui Ford Law, we’ve been defending our Oklahoma City clients against criminal accusations for more than 15 years. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, you’ve come to the right place.

What are some examples of embezzlement?

Embezzlement can happen in many different situations. Examples include:

  • A bank teller who has access to money in the bank steals from the vault.
  • A family member is caring for a relative and steals money or property from the relative.
  • An investor who is handling client investments takes the money for his or her own gain.
  • A computer technician who steals laptops from his or her company’s supply room

In many cases, the person accused of stealing money manipulates or alters financial records in an attempt to conceal the theft.

There are different “levels” of embezzlement. For example, taking some pens and paper from an office – though a criminal offense – is not punished the same way as stealing thousands. Regardless, without the help of Oklahoma defense attorney Jacqui Ford, penalties resulting from embezzlement could affect your life for years to come.

What are the penalties for embezzlement in Oklahoma?

Embezzlement is considered a serious crime, and it can end with jail time, a hefty fine, or both.

In most states, the seriousness of the crime depends on the following:

  • Property value – how much money was stolen? What was the value of the property that was stolen? Was it less than $500? More than $20,000?
  • Type of property – Was it furniture? Or was it an assault rifle that was stolen during a hurricane? These are the types of questions that will have to be answered before it can be determined just how serious of a case it is.
  • Fraudulent intent – If you’re going to be convicted of embezzlement, the prosecution has to prove that the defendant knowingly defrauded the victim. In some cases, loved ones will prove or try to prove that they had the right to that money. If that is proven, then there is no embezzlement.

How does restitution factor into an embezzlement case?

In many cases, the state will make people who are convicted of embezzling pay restitution to their victims. Restitution is simply the act of giving back something that is owed or compensating for injury or loss.

In criminal cases, restitution is typically added onto the fines that are handed down, and also any prison sentence given to the defendant.

Contact Jacqui Ford today

Are you or someone you love accused of embezzling? Your first step is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney like Jacqui Ford. Our firm has successfully defended clients in a number of different money-related matters, including embezzlement. In each case, we apply diligent investigation practices and build a case that allows us to challenge the prosecution at every step of the way – many times preventing the case from ever reaching court. Contact Jacqueline Ford’s office today for help.


How Does Civil Asset Forfeiture Work in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s civil asset forfeiture policies empower law enforcement to seize cash as well as property.  As long as law enforcement believes the money or property in question might be tied to criminal activity, these officials can confiscate it with ease.  The state insists civil asset seizure is the best way to stop drug trafficking and prevent drug dealers from using illegally-obtained funds amidst a pending court case.  


Why There is a Growing Backlash Against Civil Asset Forfeiture

Unfortunately, law enforcement sometimes abuses civil asset forfeiture by seizing assets that were obtained in a perfectly legal manner.  In fact, law enforcement has seized money and property before individuals are convicted of a crime or even charged with a crime. The bottom line is civil asset forfeiture is a way for law enforcement to take significant amounts of property and cash from everyday people.  In some cases, law enforcement ends up selling seized assets and keeping a portion of the profits. Such transactions are referred to as policing for profit.


Oklahoma’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

Oklahoma law enforcement is required to present proof in the form of preponderance of evidence that the individual in question has obtained money or property in connection with a crime.  Oklahoma law enforcement agencies are permitted to retain 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of seized assets.

It is particularly interesting to note Attorney General Jeff Sessions re-initiated the federal program referred to as the Equitable Sharing Program.  This program empowers local and state law enforcement agencies to work with federal agencies to take assets from people and transfer the seized property or cash to the federal government.  This process allows local agencies to sidestep state level regulations meant to discourage excessive forfeitures. The Equitable Sharing Program empowers the federal government to take all of the seized funds, send 80% to the state agency and make a tidy profit.

The Sooner State’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws are Heavily Criticized

Oklahoma’s civil asset forfeiture laws are viewed quite negatively compared to those of other states simply because the Sooner state has such a low bar for forfeiture.  There is no need to obtain a conviction before seizing assets. Those who are innocent can have their property and cashed seized as there are few legal protections in place to protect third-party property owners.  The majority of people agree Oklahoma’s state-friendly civil forfeiture laws should be reformed.


Oklahoma Civil Asset Forfeiture by the Numbers

All in all, law enforcement agencies throughout Oklahoma seized $99 million between 2000 and 2014, the vast majority of which was cash as opposed to property.  The Sooner state ranks in the top 20 of all states for federal forfeiture. The state received nearly $60 million between 2000 and 2013 from the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing proceeds.  It is quite shocking to learn the average value of such adopted assets was about $134,000. This figure is six times that of the average value of assets seized. It appears as though Oklahoma law enforcement agencies have requested such adoptions for especially valuable cases that would have proven challenging to process at the local or state levels.


Civil Asset Forfeiture Requires the Assistance of an Attorney

It is up to the accused individual to prove he or she has nothing to do with the alleged crime and the property in question is not related to any sort of criminal activity.  This challenge is not easy. If your money or property is seized, you need the assistance of a civil asset forfeiture attorney to clear your name and obtain the property or money you worked so had to obtain.  

Do not assume you will eventually receive your property back following its seizure.  The state of Oklahoma provides minimal, if any, transparency during the civil asset forfeiture process.  If your property or cash has been seized, there is a good chance you will never receive it back unless you hire a civil asset forfeiture attorney.  Contact us today to learn how we can help you reacquire your property and restore your good name.


What is Drug Court in Oklahoma?

Drug addiction is defined as a disease by almost all medical professionals and medical associations, including the American Medical Association. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, it’s treated as a crime instead of a public health crisis.

In Oklahoma, however, there is some relief through the courts if you have been convicted of certain drug charges. Read on to find out more about drug court and what to do if you’ve been charged with a drug crime.

What is drug court in Oklahoma?

Adult drug court programs in Oklahoma give non-violent felony drug offenders the chance to choose a treatment program instead of jail time. People who choose to take part in the program are monitored through frequent alcohol and drug testing to encourage total abstinence from drugs. The treatment program is highly structured with well-defined treatment goals and offers incentives for those who succeed in the program.

In general, jailing participants who test positive for drugs or alcohol isn’t the standard punishment in drug court. Usually, drug courts use more lenient penalties first before sending an offender to jail, unless the participant poses an immediate risk to public safety.

Does drug court work?

Oklahoma has seen much success with its drug court programs. According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse services, drug court is available in 73 out of 77 counties in the state.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • It costs, on average, $19,000 a year to incarcerate someone in Oklahoma. But the average cost the state incurs for drug court participants is only $5,000 a year.
  • Drug court graduates have much lower recidivism rates than non-drug court offenders.
  • Drug court graduates have a re-arrest rate of 23.5 percent, as compared to the 38.2 percent re-arrest rate for offenders who complete standard probation and the 54.3 percent re-arrest rate for those who are simply released from prison.
  • Drug court’s success in Oklahoma has also led to the development of other diversionary programs, including juvenile drug courts, family courts and mental health courts.

How have changes in Oklahoma’s drug laws affected drug court?

Oklahoma has been steadily enacting criminal justice reform legislation over the past few years to decrease the state’s prison population. One of those reforms includes reclassifying drug possession crimes to misdemeanors instead of felonies in hopes that drug users don’t end up serving lengthy prison terms for drug possession.

But what Oklahoma lawmakers didn’t factor in is that drug court is only an option for felony drug charges. Under the new law, about a fourth of all people charged with drug felonies over the past few years would have misdemeanor charges instead. This makes them ineligible for Oklahoma drug court and has officials re-examining the program to see how it can be restructured to help misdemeanor offenders, as well.

Give Jacqui Ford a call today 

Drug court is just one option when you are facing charges for heroin, marijuana or other drugs. If you are in this situation, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to work on your behalf. Contact Jacqui Ford’s office today for your free consultation.

Is there such a thing as “justifiable homicide”

Is there such a thing as justifiable homicide? In the eyes of the law, yes.

There are certain circumstances in which killing another person might not constitute a crime.

Justifiable homicide is defined as the “no-fault” killing of another person, because killing the person was necessary to save your own life or the life of someone else. What justifiable homicides lack when compared to regular homicides is criminal intent. Self-defense shootings, capital punishment, and some deadly police shootings are a few examples of justifiable homicide.

If you are a store owner and someone comes in and tries to rob you at gunpoint, if you shoot and kill the suspect, that could be a case of justifiable homicide. If a police officer is pursuing a criminal suspect and the suspect threatens to use or uses physical force against the office, that could be another case of justifiable homicide.

What is justifiable homicide in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, a homicide is justified when it’s committed by someone in any of the following situations:

  • When you are resisting the person’s attempts to murder you or commit a felony against you
  • When you are legally defending yourself or someone else against the person you killed, because you reasonably believed that lethal force was necessary to prevent your own death or great bodily harm, or to stop the person from committing a forcible felony. Forcible felony is defined as any felony that involves the use of or threat of physical force or violence against someone else.
  • When the homicide was necessary because you were trying, “by lawful ways and means,” to detain someone for committing a felony, or because you were trying to lawfully suppress a riot or preserve the peace.

What is Oklahoma’s “Make My Day” Law?

In some states, it’s referred to as the Castle Doctrine, based on the platitude that a man’s home is his castle. In Oklahoma, it’s more commonly called the “Make My Day” law, presumably thanks to Clint Eastwood’s famous phrase — Go ahead, make my day — in “Dirty Harry.”

It’s essentially an expansion of Oklahoma’s existing self-defense and justifiable homicide laws. It’s based on the premise that Oklahomans should be able to feel “absolute safety” in their home, business or personal vehicle.

  • The Make My Day law states that someone who has “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” when another person illegally enters your home or business is justified in using deadly force.
  • This does not apply if the person you defended yourself against has a right to be in the home, vehicle or business (owner, title holder, etc.) and there is no protective order in place. This also does not apply if you were engaged in unlawful activity or were using the home, business or vehicle to further illegal acts.

It’s important to understand that you cannot insert yourself into a violent or potentially violent situation, then shoot someone in self defense. For example, if you start arguing with someone inside a bar, then go out in the parking lot to fight them, if you shoot them during a fight, it is not self-defense or justifiable homicide.

Justifiable homicide is not often a clear-cut case, and it almost always requires the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney to navigate the case. If you or someone you love was involved in a case of justifiable homicide, contact Jacqui Ford’s office today.

What is the Trial Lawyer’s College and who attends?

If you’ve read Jacqui Ford’s bio, you may know that she’s been involved with the Trial Lawyer’s College since 2013 –  first as a student and now as a faculty member.

But what is the Trial Lawyer’s College like? What can a lawyer gain from it?

In this post, Jacqui provides insight into the TLC and how it has shaped her legal practice to the benefit of her clients.


What is the Trial Lawyer’s College and who attends?

Founded in 1994 by renowned criminal defense attorney Gerry Spence, TLC is an elite college of lawyers who represent people. The basic requirement is that one must be either a criminal defense or a plaintiff lawyer. (Prosecutors and lawyers who represent insurance companies cannot join.)

“These other guys are in the business of holding people down. As government or corporate lawyers, they have unlimited resources at their disposal,” explains Jacqui, “So maintaining exclusivity is important to us because we are the underdogs.”

The goal of TLC is to arm criminal defense and plaintiff lawyers with the skills needed to effectively try their cases in front of a judge and jury.


Learning to be a better lawyer

As Jacqui learned, TLC is not for the faint of heart. Admitted to the college after a vetting process, attendees must give up three weeks of their lives to fly to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the summer. The journey doesn’t end there though…

Lawyers go to the Thunderhead Ranch, 100 miles from Jackson Hole, fifteen miles off the nearest paved road.

There is no cell phone service. No television. No radio.  

A group of about 55 lawyers sleep in the old barn that has been converted to dormitories and a classroom.

(Not what you were picturing, right?)


The TLC Process

The objective of trial lawyers often involves persuading people to go against biases and opinions they already have.

“Most people are already inclined to believe the police officer. Most people already have opinions about things like DUI and rape. We have to as lawyers ensure a fair trial and see to it that the falsely accused go free,” says Jacqui.

To do this, lawyers must first start with themselves. They must “work on the horse” as they call it at the Ranch.

After all, someone can dress up in cowboy shoes and a hat and throw a $1000 fancy saddle on a horse. But at the end of the day, if it’s a $10 horse, what good is the $1000 saddle?  

Using intensive psychodrama techniques, lawyers first learn to reenact scenes from their own childhood in front of their peers– something that is scary and emotionally exhausting.

These 12 hour group therapy sessions allow trial attorneys to understand themselves, but they are also crucial to shaping how they practice law.

As lawyers learn to walk in another person’s shoes, they begin to able to walk in their clients’ shoes. If they can walk in their clients’ shoes, then they can walk in the shoes of a jury member.

Lawyers at TLC also learn to listen, to observe, and to reflect.


After the Ranch

Other lawyers joke that when Jacqui returns from a TLC trip, she is “Zen Jacqui.” If the practices at the ranch seem all little wonky and a little New Age-y, it’s because they are designed to take lawyers out of their comfort zone.

At its core, TLC aims to restore the humanity back in the practice of law.

Through TLC Jacqui and her team have built an amazing network of some of the nation’s leading trial attorneys, who often come to each other’s aid when they need to workshop strategy for tough cases. Together they can sometimes turn a $100k case to a $1 million case.

“A public defender may come to me with a DUI case, and he’s not sure how the jury will act. He can’t afford to hire a mock jury, so I can do is get 12 lawyers together. Through psychodrama we can take on the personas of different jury members to figure out how the public defender should tackle strategy and jury selection. We’ve just provided him with a focus group,” explains Jacqui.  

For the past three years Jacqui has served as a faculty member teaching at TLC workshops around the country for lawyers who can’t make it to Wyoming.

At the end of the day it is about helping lawyers help people.


Success as Result

As Jacqui admits, “I was a good lawyer before the Trial Lawyer’s College. Sure, I won some awards. But I wasn’t a great lawyer. TLC let me focus on what matters in the courtroom and what matters to my client.”

Jacqui continues to rack up victories in court by practicing the techniques and skills learned through TLC. She was recently recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from America’s Top 100 Attorneys, an award bestowed on less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States.

“When I look at the attorneys who have received the award, I feel honored to be in such great company,” says Jacqui–who for the record, does not like to talk about herself (but we did anyways).

If you’re a trial attorney who would like to learn more about TLC, or if you are in need of a criminal attorney, contact Jacqui Ford Law today.  

Been in an “alcohol related incident?” Here’s what to KNOW

Whether it’s stumbling around and being loud and boisterous, or making the irresponsible decision to get behind the wheel of a car, there can be serious consequences for your behavior if you’ve had too much to drink.

Did you know you can be arrested for public intoxication even if you aren’t actually drunk? If you are acting drunk and disorderly in public, sometimes that’s all it takes for you to be handcuffed and facing a public intoxication charge.


What is public intoxication?

Public intoxication is typically a misdemeanor charge for people who are acting drunk and disorderly in public. This could include yelling, using profanities, stumbling around, or just generally being disruptive to those around you, i.e. disturbing the peace.

Police officers in Oklahoma can opt to take you into protective custody or to a treatment facility instead of arresting you for public intoxication. These scenarios are more likely to happen if you are a threat to yourself or those around you. Law enforcement can also opt to do both; arrest you and take you into protective custody.

In Oklahoma, the following penalties are possible if you are convicted of public intoxication:

  • Five to thirty days in jail
  • A $100 to $500 fine


What happens if you get a DUI in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma has some of the toughest criminal laws in the country, and DUIs are no exception.

In Oklahoma, you can be arrested for a DUI if any of the following conditions are met:

  • You are 21 or older and your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is .08 percent or more.
  • You are younger than 21 years old and you have any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.
  • You register a .04 percent BAC and have a CDL (commercial driver’s license).

If you are stopped by a police officer who suspects you are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take the test, your driver’s license will be revoked. Without an attorney to help get your license back, your driving privileges could be taken away for months, or even years.

Unlike some states, in Oklahoma, you can be punished for having a BAC of .05 percent to .08 percent. You can end up with a suspended driver’s license, along with a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail.


What are the penalties for DUI in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, a first-offense DUI (with a BAC of .08 percent or more), can result in the following:

  • 10 days to one year in jail.
  • A fine of up to $2,500.
  • Suspended license for up to six months.

If you get convicted of a DUI for a second time within 10 years of your first one, it becomes a felony charge that could result in the following:

  • One to seven years in prison
  • A fine of up to $5,000.

Third and subsequent offenses could land you in prison for up to 10 years, with fines of up to $5,000.

Alcohol-related crimes in Oklahoma need to be taken seriously as they can have profound consequences on your life. The help of an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the legal system and handle alcohol related charges. Contact Jacqui Ford’s office today for help.

How to make Encounters With Police Safer for People With Disabilities

People with disabilities account for an astonishing one-third to one-half of all people killed by law enforcement every year.

It’s a disturbing statistic, particularly if you or someone you love suffers from a disability — be it mental or physical.

The Ruderman Family Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities, explained in a report that in these cases — cases when a police officer kills someone who is disabled — there is usually widespread media attention and public outcry involved.

One recent example right here in Oklahoma City was the case of

Although all police officers should have some sort of formal training on how to respond to disabled people, there are specific policies and methods that have proven effective.


How can police officers improve their response to disabled people?

One method police departments can try is employing Crisis Intervention Teams:


  • CITs are a collaborative effort between law enforcement, medical professionals, mental health advocates and the mental health community.
  • CIT officers undergo a special training that makes them better able to handle a situation without using force and better able to restrain people without injuring them.
  • CIT officers are also able to look at the situation as a whole and assess where the disabled person needs to go from this point.
  • CIT training teaches verbal de-escalation techniques, a skill set that’s not taught in traditional law enforcement training.


According to the Ruderman Foundation, states and local governments that have implemented crisis intervention teams have shown fewer cases of police officers injuring or killing people with disabilities.

They have also seen:

  • An uptick in jail diversion rates
  • Fewer lawsuits against government bodies
  • Stronger relationships with the mental health field
  • More and more people with disabilities are receiving the community services they need instead of taking up space in jail cells.
  • A drastic decrease in officers being injured by disabled people when responding to calls. In Memphis, where the police department implemented a CIT, officer injuries dropped 80 percent.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness concludes that one reason CITs are so successful is that they connect police officers to a team of clinical professionals, as well as fellow officers, and as a team, they collectively decide the best solution for that particular crisis situation.

Whichever method police departments are trying to better handle people with disabilities, it’s necessary that they treat people with disabilities in accordance with provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of abuse at the hands of a police officer, you need the help of an experienced civil rights attorney on your side. Contact Jacqui Ford’s office today.

What happens if you violate protective orders?

A restraining order, or sometimes referred to as a protective order, is a legally binding court order for someone to stay away from another person.

Most often, restraining orders are granted in response to the following actions:

  • Stalking someone
  • Harassing someone
  • Endangering the safety of someone else
  • Violence against someone

The victim is the one who has to request the restraining order as a way to protect him or herself.

There are many different places the court can order people to stay away from, including the victim’s workplace and home.

If it’s a domestic violence case, the judge could do the following:

  • He or she could order the person who abused the victim to get counseling or go to alcohol or substance abuse treatment.
  • He or she could order a police escort for the abuser to remove personal items from the home.

The consequences of violating a protective order can be serious.


What can happen if you violate a protective order?

Here’s what can happen if a person is found to have violated a restraining order:

  • He or she can get a hefty fine.
  • He or she can go to jail.
  • He or she could get both jail time and a fine.

Violating a restraining order is usually a misdemeanor, but it can be upgraded to a felony charge under some circumstances:

  • Did the violation happen while another crime was taking place? Like vandalism or assault?


How is a restraining order enforced?

The person who has requested and received the protective order is urged to keep a copy of the court order with them — all the time.

This is so the victim can immediately show police the order if the aggressor violates the order. It’s up to the victim to call police. The order cannot be enforced without cooperation from the victim, and the victim should call the authorities immediately after the violation happens. Sometimes, law enforcement can’t intervene if too much time has lapsed between the violation and when the victim made the call.

If you or someone you love is accused of violating a protective order, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help with your case. Contact Jacqui Ford’s office today.