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.
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.
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.
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.