Although it may seem easy to determine what should be considered a “violent” crime – murder, assault, battery, armed robbery, child abuse, and the list goes on – many people are misinformed on what constitutes a violent crime or offense in Oklahoma. It’s also often difficult to discern what happens when someone is convicted of a violent crime in the state.
This article sheds some light on what, exactly, is considered a violent crime or offense, and what punishments those convicted of a violent crime may expect. Although there is no definitive answers to many of these questions, having background knowledge can help you understand these crimes and how to find an attorney to help your case.
Violent Crimes Under Oklahoma Law
A large aspect of violent crimes that many people are misinformed about is the difference between a per se violent crime, and a crime that can lead to registration on the Violent Offender Registry.
Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma statutes provides a list of crimes that are considered violent by their very nature. The list is too extensive to be listed here (there are over 50 of them), but the list is inclusive meaning if it’s not on the list, it’s not considered a violent crime. While many include the more obvious offenses mentioned above (murder, assault, etc.), there are many such as aggravated drug trafficking that may not be as obvious.
Although the list in Section 571 is extensive, the list of violent crimes that require registration on the Violent Offender Registry is limited to the following 10 crimes:
- First degree murder;
- Second degree murder as provided for in Section 701.8 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes;
- manslaughter in the first degree;
- shooting or discharging a firearm with intent to kill;
- use of a vehicle to facilitate the intentional discharge of a firearm, crossbow or other weapon;
- assault, battery, or assault and battery with a deadly weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm
- assault with intent to kill;
- abuse, when determined necessary by the sentencing judge; and
- any crime or attempt to commit a crime constituting a substantially similar offense listed above which is adjudicated by any court of another state, the United States, a tribal court, or a military court.
Possible Sentences and “85% Crimes”
As with most laws in the state of Oklahoma, sentencing for many violent crimes can vary dramatically. However, there are two main consequences that may result from a conviction of a violent crime:
- A conviction of a violent crime will not be eligible for parole granted solely by the Pardon and Parole Board. The Board can merely recommend parole, but it is the Governor’s ultimate decision.
- A conviction of a violent crime is not eligible for expungement under Oklahoma law. This means that the best one can hope for in this instance would be for the Board to recommend parole, and the Governor to grant it.
Aside from these significant consequences, it can be difficult to provide definitive answers on prison sentences or other punishments for convictions of violent crimes. Some offenders may earn credit for “good-time” served, and others may be looked at favorably or disfavorably by the Parole Board or Governor. This is true unless the crime committed was an “85% crime”.
An “85% crime” in Oklahoma require all people convicted of these crimes to serve at least 85% of their sentence before they can become eligible for parole. Moreover, they are not eligible for “good-time” credit or any other type of credits that may have the effect of reducing the length of their sentence to less than 85% of the original punishment.
In Oklahoma there are a number of crimes that may be considered violent, including many that may not even seem violent on their face. These crimes can carry lengthy sentences, a number of different forms of punishment, and some are not eligible for parole or lighter sentences for any reason.
Due to the seriousness of these offenses and the harsh punishments that come with them, it’s extremely important to have an experienced and qualified attorney on your side that knows the nuances and complexities of Oklahoma criminal law.