Not everyone receives a second chance to keep their freedom when they’ve been found guilty of a crime. A deferred sentence in Oklahoma City can provide that second chance.
However, a deferred sentence in Oklahoma is not without its responsibilities. Thus, you can easily find yourself back in court facing jail time.
FAQ: Deferred Sentence in Oklahoma
If a judge determines that you should be given a second chance to stay out of trouble (usually because you do not have a lengthy criminal record and you accepted responsibility for the crime and plead guilty early), then he or she may “defer” your sentence.
This means the judge will set a sentence, but will forgo actually entering the judgment.
For example, a judge may find that a defendant should serve five years for robbery, but will postpone entering the judgment while the defendant satisfies probationary conditions.
At the end of the probationary term, the judge will often drop the charges. Also, they will no longer be part of your criminal record.
Requirements of a Deferred Sentence
As a part of your deferred sentence in Oklahoma, you will be placed on probation. During this time, you may have to complete a number of obligations and abide by several rules.
For example, you will be required to pay court costs, restitution and pay monthly probation fees.
Depending on your case, you may be required to complete community service, obtain an education, maintain a job, or undergo drug/alcohol/mental health treatment.
In some instances, you will have to abide by a curfew. In all cases, you cannot get into any more trouble, carry a firearm, or consume drugs or alcohol.
What is an Application to Accelerate?
If you commit a crime while on probation or violate any of the terms of your probation, the state can file an application to accelerate your deferred sentence in Oklahoma.
The application essentially asks the court to impose your original sentence. How quickly this happens may depend on your probation officer and the circumstances.
For example, if you violated your court-imposed curfew by one or two hours once, your probation officer may choose to work with you privately on the issue and simply warn you.
In contrast, if you were arrested for possession of marijuana, the state may be more likely to file an application to accelerate against you. Or, if you have violated a technical requirement, such as failure to pay a court cost, your attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to help get you back on track.
The result of an application to accelerate may be a reprimand from the court and a requirement that you rectify whatever you did wrong to violate probation. Your attorney can provide an acceptable explanation of why you violated in these instances.
One the other end of the spectrum, you may have your probation revoked altogether. Thus, you will serve in jail the remainder of your once deferred sentence in Oklahoma.
Legal Standard at an Application to Revoke Hearing
When the prosecutor files an application to revoke probation against you, the court will schedule a hearing. At this hearing, the standard for proving your probation violation is much lower than a standard criminal trial.
Instead of the state having to prove that you acted unlawfully beyond a reasonable doubt, they will simply have to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence.
Consider the following scenario to illustrate the difference between reasonable doubt and preponderance of the evidence:
John has been charged with robbing his next door neighbor. At trial, the prosecution is only able to prove that John has a key to his neighbor’s home.
An eyewitness states that they observed someone the same height and build as John enter the neighbor’s home at the time of the robbery. However, John also states that the neighbor gave him a key so that he can feed her cats during the day and that he was not in town at the time the robbery occurred.
Here, the prosecution probably can’t establish that its burden of proving that John committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no physical evidence placing him at the crime scene and the eye witness did not definitively identify John. This creates doubt that John was the one who actually robbed his neighbor.
However, under a preponderance of the evidence standard, John’s fate may be different. The court may find that the fact that John had a key to his neighbor’s home, and that the witness’s account matched his physical appearance closely enough. He may be found guilty under a preponderance of the evidence standard.
What Happens at the Hearing?
Your hearing will be different depending on why you’re there.
If you violated a technical term of your violation (failed a drug test, violated curfew, didn’t pay court cost, etc), then you will have to explain yourself to the judge. Your attorney can help by explaining specific steps you are taking to right your wrong. This may include undergoing intensive drug treatment, working more hours, getting a job that is more aligned with the court’s curfew, etc.
If your violation was a more serious technical violation, your attorney may be able to negotiate converting your deferred sentence into a suspended sentence. A suspended sentence means that you will still be guilty at the end of your probation and your record will not be expunged. This is still more favorable than going to jail, however.
If you’re in court because you’ve committed a new crime while on probation, the judge and the prosecutor will be more likely to withdraw your probation and go ahead and sentence you.
All is not lost in this scenario, though. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a lower sentence based on the new crime.
Free Consultation: Oklahoma City Probation Attorney
When you’ve been accused of violating probation, you are at high risk of going to jail immediately. An attorney can help substantially mitigate this risk.
There’s no cost and no obligation for an initial consultation with our Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney. Call the Criminal Defense Law Office of Oklahoma City at (405) 588-4529 (588-4LAW) for confidential answers to your questions.
If you prefer, you may send your question using the contact form at the top right side of this page.