Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys Answer Questions About Probation

Even if you have not personally had an encounter with the criminal justice system, you are most likely still familiar with the term “probation.” Flip on the television and a character on a crime-drama show is being sentenced to probation, or on the evening news, the top story may be that a well-known individual has been sent to jail for violating the terms of his or her probation. However, if you have been charged with a crime, you will want to take the time to understand probation and how it may be a possibility for you. While your attorney will discuss probation with you in detail, here are some answers to some basic probation related questions:

What is probation?

When a criminal defendant pleads guilty or has been found guilty of a crime, probation allows the person to serve their sentence at home, rather than in jail or prison. A defendant who is placed on probation is usually assigned a probation officer that makes sure the terms and conditions of the defendant’s probation are followed.

What is meant by “terms and conditions” of probation?

Terms and conditions of probation are just another way of saying the rules that a defendant on probation must follow. Typical rules that a defendant may have to follow are based on the crime. For example, a person on probation for a drug charge may have conditions that include: abstaining from drug and alcohol use, obtaining drug treatment or other counseling, not picking up any new criminal charges, complying with law enforcement, not associating with known criminals, and submitting to random drug testing.

What is a deferred versus suspended sentence?

Probation is usually given in one of two scenarios. The first scenario is when the defendant pleads guilty to the crime, but the judge orders that the sentenced be “deferred.” With a deferred sentence, if probation is completed, the charge is dismissed. The second scenario is a suspended sentence, is different in that the person is convicted of a crime, but does not have to serve jail or prison time if he or she completes probation.

What can happen if I violate the terms of my probation?

What happens when a person violates any of the terms of his or her probation depends on the specific violation. If the violation was a criminal offense, then the person might face separate criminal charges. For example, if a person on a first-time drug offense, and is arrested for selling drugs, then he or she would not only be in violation of his or her probation—that requires him or her to abstain from drug and alcohol possession/use—but also be charged with a new drug offense. If however, that same person tests positive for drugs and/or alcohol during a random drug test, then or she could face revocation of probation or spend time in jail.

If you have are serving probation on either a suspended or deferred sentence and have been accused of violating the terms of that probation, it is important that you seek the immediate advice of counsel. Only a seasoned Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney can review the accusations against you and keep you from losing your probation. Do not make the mistake of waiting too long or choosing to represent yourself. At The Handley Law Center, our team of skilled Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys will fight to keep you out of jail. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact The Handley Law Center today at (405) 295-1924. You can trust The Handley Law Center to provide you with aggressive representation.

El Reno Criminal Defense Attorneys Discusses Expunging Your Criminal Record in Oklahoma

A criminal record can wreak havoc in your life by preventing you from securing employment, qualifying for a loan or being admitted to an educational institution. Fortunately, Oklahoma state law allows for limited situations in which your criminal record can be expunged, thereby preventing the public from accessing the expunged portion of your criminal history. Even background check companies will not be able to find any information that has been expunged.

Expungement is a legal procedure undertaken with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Two types of expungements are available for those who qualify, and you can apply for an expungement by filing a petition with the appropriate state court. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation strongly recommends hiring a lawyer if you seek an expungement, however.

Section 18 Expungements

A Section 18 expungement is the most desirable form of expungement, and it is the most difficult type of expungement to obtain. Section 18 expungements result in a complete deletion of the individual’s arrest and conviction records from public view. You are eligible to petition for a Section 18 expungement if:

  • you were acquitted of the crime
  • your innocence of the crime was established through DNA testing
  • you were under 18 when you committed the crime and later received a full pardon for it
  • no charges were filed against you after your arrest and the statute of limitations has already expired
  • you were arrested, charged or subjected to a warrant based on mistaken identity

Section 18 identifies several more circumstances under which a Section 18 expungement may be warranted.

Section 991(c) Expungements

A Section 991(c) expungement is designed for people who were arrested, pled guilty, and received a deferred sentence as an act of leniency. If the expungement is granted, the record of your arrest will remain visible to the public; however, your guilty plea and conviction will be changed to a “not guilty” plea followed by a dismissal.

Loopholes

Your criminal records are not destroyed when they are expunged. Instead, they are removed from the office of the court clerk but remain in the files of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, although not in the main filing area. Even after an expungement, your prior criminal history can still be used against you for two very limited purposes – impeachment and false character proceedings. If you are a witness in a trial, for example, information that has been expunged can be used by someone cross-examining you to contradict your testimony if it is inconsistent with the information that was expunged. If you claim to have been in Denver on a particular night, for example, a prosecutor might use your expunged arrest record to show that you were in jail in Oklahoma at the time.

A successful expungement proceeding could give you a new lease on life by opening doors of opportunity that had previously been bolted shut. Because of the importance of this issue, a “DIY” expungement is not advisable – you need an experienced Canadian County expungement attorney who is able to take advantage of recent changes in Oklahoma expungement law that might work to your advantage..

The Handley Law Center, a proud member of the exclusive International Society of Primerus Law Firms, is willing and able to prepare and file an expungement petition for you. If you wish to seek an expungement in El Reno, Canadian County, or elsewhere in the Oklahoma City metro area, call the El Reno Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Handley Law Center at 405-295-1924 for a free initial consultation.

Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions about Drug Possession Charges

There are individuals in Oklahoma (and across the country) that believe that no harm can come from personal use of drugs. So called “recreational” drug use has even been referred to by some people as a victimless crime. Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, the State of Oklahoma does consider drug possession a crime, and in some cases is considered a felony offense. If you are unsure about the laws regarding drug possession, you need to be aware that in most instances it is a serious crime and the person can face up to 10 years in prison. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions that Oklahoma residents have about drug possession charges:

What is a CDS?

CDS refers to the term “controlled dangerous substance.” However, there is not one definition of what a CDS is since each state’s definition can vary. For example, in Oklahoma drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA), and heroine are all classified as CDS. Oklahoma also includes in its definition of CDS, the substances and materials used to produce these drugs.

What is the penalty for possession of a CDS?

The simple answer to this question is that is depends on several factors, including the type of drug that the person had in his or her possession. CDS are broken down into five main categories known as “Schedules.” Possession of a Schedule I or II drug in most cases is considered to be a felony. A first time offender can face a minimum of 2 years in prison, up to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. While possession of a Schedule III, IV or V drug is usually considered to be a misdemeanor offense. A person charged with a first time misdemeanor possession offense could face a year in jail and maximum fine of $1,000. However, a second offense is usually considered a felony.

Here is a breakdown of some of the drugs that fall into each category:

  • Schedule I: MDMA, heroine, GHB, LSD and psychedelics like mushrooms.
  • Schedule II: cocaine, PCP, oxycodone, and amphetamines
  • Schedule III: marijuana
  • Schedule IV or V: prescription drugs like Ativan and Ritalin without a valid prescription

Does where I purchased or possessed the drug matter?

Individuals who purchase or possess a CDS within 1,000 feet of a public park or recreation area, or a school can face punishment double that if they had not purchased in that same area.

How can an attorney help me?

Even if you do not believe you have any defenses to the charges against you, it is possible that you may actually have a defense. That is why it is important to talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. He or she can properly review the facts of your case and determine if you have any defenses. For instance, the fact that a police officer found a drug in an area close to your person, is not enough to qualify as possession. The State must be able to prove that the drug was also in your control.

There is nothing “minor” about a minor drug offense. If you have been charged with a minor drug offense such as possession, you need to treat this matter seriously. Schedule an appointment to meet with an experienced Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Handley Center have handled numerous drug-related cases both within Canadian County and around the State of Oklahoma. Our attorney can provide you with the aggressive representation that you need. The Handley Law Center is conveniently located in El Reno, a mere twenty minute drive from Oklahoma City. To schedule your free and completely confidential consultation contact The Handley Law Center today at (405) 295-1924.

Charged with Possession? Why You Need to Hire an Experienced Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether you refer to it as “marijuana” or call it by one of its hosts of other names such as “weed”, “dope” or “pot,” one thing remains the same – possession of marijuana in the state of Oklahoma is illegal. Unlike some of its neighboring states, Oklahoma law does not allow marijuana to be used for recreational or medical purposes. In fact, the penalties for the mere possession of marijuana are some of the most severe in the country.  If you have been charged with possession, it is in your best interests to hire a seasoned Oklahoma criminal defense attorney. If you are considering representing yourself, think again.  With this in mind, the following are three of the biggest reasons why you should strongly consider hiring a criminal defense attorney, if you have not already:

  • The consequences are serious: One reason why an individual charged with a drug offense may think that he or she does not need an attorney, is that he or she is unfamiliar with the penalties that even a minor drug charge can carry. A first time offender who is charged with possession of marijuana faces serious consequences. Possession of even a small amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail—a penalty that is very similar to an individual charged with driving under the influence (DUI). If the possession charge is a person’s second drug charge within a 10 year span, the person is now charged with a felony and is looking at a fine up to $5,000 and a maximum of 10 years in prison. Keep in mind these penalties are for just possession of marijuana. If a person is caught with the intent to sell or is “dealing,” he or she can face life in prison.
  • No breaks for Pro se Litigants: Being “pro se” or representing yourself on criminal charges while an option, is never the best decision. Criminal defense attorneys have spent years honing their craft and are familiar with not only the relevant laws, but also with courtroom procedure. Do not be fooled into thinking that the State’s Attorney will go easy on you, or that the Judge will cut you a break since you do not have an attorney. The State’s Attorney is going to proceed the same way he or she would normally proceed, regardless of whether you are represented by an attorney. The Judge is going to hold you to the same high standards as he or she would an experienced attorney.
  • Experience equals results: Only an experienced criminal defense attorney is familiar with the laws relevant to your case. He or she will also have experience handling numerous cases with facts similar to the facts in your case. This is extremely important because the attorney can draw upon these experiences to obtain the best results for you. A seasoned criminal defense attorney may be able to use her or her experience to negotiate with the State’s Attorney to drop the charges all together or to negotiate a settlement.

For Superior Criminal Defense Representation, Contact The Handley Law Center Now!

If you have been charged with a minor drug charge such as possession or are facing allegations of intent to sell, you need an experienced Oklahoma criminal attorney. The Handley Law Center has experience handling numerous drug-related cases both within Canadian County and around the State of Oklahoma. Only a seasoned Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney can provide the aggressive representation required to fight drug-related charges. The Handley Law Center is conveniently located in El Reno, a mere twenty minute drive from Oklahoma City. To schedule your free and completely confidential consultation contact The Handley Law Center at (405) 295-1924 today.

How to Find the Right Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney

As most people are aware, facing criminal charges in Oklahoma is extremely difficult.  However, trying to find the right criminal defense attorney can present an even greater challenge.  It goes without saying that having a seasoned attorney on your side can make a significant difference.  In other words, working with an inexperienced attorney could end up costing you a significant amount of money and quite possibly, your freedom.  Accordingly, the following are a number of tips you should consider when looking to hire an attorney:

  1. Do your due diligence.  Don’t get sucked in by overzealous marketing or empty promises to deliver you results.  Review the attorney’s client testimonials or do some research online as to what others have to say about his or her legal services.  As mentioned above, choosing an attorney with a good reputation is critical to the outcome of your case.
  2. Ask for referrals.  Find out from family members or friends if they can recommend an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Most often, the best attorneys are those that have built their criminal law practices through referrals.
  3. Only consider an attorney that is upfront about all costs and fees.  Some attorneys charge their clients by the hour whereas others charge a flat rate.  Be sure to know exactly how your attorney bills before signing a retainer form.
  4. Only work with an attorney that is experienced in criminal law in your jurisdiction.  While many attorneys claim to have the requisite experience, they may not be truly capable of handling your case.  Furthermore, only choose an attorney that focuses a significant portion of their practice in criminal law, as they are in the best position to most effectively fight for your rights.
  5. Consider a public defender.  If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney, you should never represent yourself.  Public defenders focus 100% of their legal practice on criminal defense representation, so they likely will have the experience necessary to help you.   You can contact your local courthouse to find out more about the public defenders in your area.

If you are facing criminal charges in Oklahoma, contact The Handley Law Center for a free confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.   You can also contact us during normal business hours at 405-295-1924 to schedule an appointment.  We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.