The criminal procedure of Oklahoma starts at the point of arrest and goes on till a sentence is delivered in the matter that a person is being accused of. Although the trial procedure is uniform through most states, as long as the federal law and constitutional statutes that protect an individual’s right to freedom are not compromised on, some variances are allowed.
Of warrants, arrests and bail
In Oklahoma, a person can be detained in a criminal matter when an active warrant has been issued against him by a local tribunal. On the other hand, in case of misdemeanor charges, the arrest can only be made if a law enforcement official has witnessed the perpetrator committing the illicit act. Also, the issue of a judicial order for arrest signifies that there is probable cause to hold a person responsible for a criminal incident.
If an individual has been taken into custody, he has the right to remain silent and not make any statement that can and will be held against him in trial. He also has the right to request that an attorney be present when the cops are questioning him. If the accused cannot afford legal representation, the state is legally bound to provide an attorney for him.
At an incarceration facility, the accused will be identified, his personal belongings will be impounded and he will then be photographed and fingerprinted. These records will be sent to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation for inclusion in their CJIS repository.
All persons arrested are allowed to make one phone call and in most cases the arraignment hearing takes place the next day or on the next business day if the arrest was made over the weekend and if the accused is in custody, the bail is determined through a hearing within 48 hours of arrest.
The bail process: The bail bond is preset based on the crime that the person in question is being accused of. While a bail hearing is the right of an arrestee, it should not be taken for granted that the plea for bail will be accepted as a matter of fact.
Several factors such as past criminal history, instances of nonappearance in court, out of state residential status and mentally instability, the possibility of the accused posing danger to the society and the victim /witnesses may all lead to the bail application being denied.
Release through bail is procured by paying a bond which is usually made by the defendant or his friends or family. It is also possible to get a bail bondsman to make this payment. In this case, a 10% nonrefundable deposit has to be paid first to the bonding agency and a collateral may also have to be placed if the bail amount is high.
The first appearance and entering a plea
At the arraignment or the fist appearance hearing, the formal charges being filed against the defendant will be clarified to the defense team. At this point, the defendant will enter his plea which can be guilty, not guilty or no contest. Almost 85% of the criminal cases that enter the Oklahoma judicial system are sorted through plea bargains.
This is an agreement reached between the prosecution and the defense. In keeping with this arrangement, the defendant pleads guilty or no contest in exchange for a deferred sentence or reduced charges. In felony cases, the defendant is also entitled to a preliminary hearing in which the judge will determine if there is probable cause in the matter. If found, the case is bound over to the district court for a second round of arraignment. In contrast, grand jury indictments are conducted at the behest of the prosecution.
The trial, verdict and sentencing
Felony trials are heard by a 12 member jury while misdemeanor cases have 6 jurors. The verdict has to be unanimous for a person to be acquitted or held guilty. In case of violations that are not punishable by a prison term, only a bench trial is allowed.
Sentencing is carried out by the judge based on the guidelines for punitive measures against criminals and the pre-sentence report which gives the judge an insight into the social and mental condition of the offender along with his employment status, criminal history, family and other information.