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What's in Store for 2015? Proposed Criminal Law Bills in Oklahoma

13-Feb-2015

Each year as Oklahoma lawmakers convene, they are presented with numerous bill proposals to consider during the annual legislative session. Some of these bills seem almost destined to fail. Others will be passed into law after several rounds of revision. Each year, there are also a couple of proposals that seem to capture media attention. This year, those headline-grabbing bills were the "hoodie ban," proposed by Sen. Don Barrington, and a bill by Rep. Sally Kern that would allow businesses to refuse service to the LGBT community. Barrington denies his bill is intended to ban hooded sweatshirts; Kern withdrew HB 1597 amid much criticism.

While the aforementioned bill proposals have been in the headlines over the last several weeks, there are a number of bills that are being proposed that have so far escaped public scrutiny. Many of proposed acts of legislation could have a significant impact, if passed, on criminal law.

Texting while Driving

  • HB 1009 (Perryman) would prohibit texting while driving and would impose a $500 fine for violation.
  • SB 43 (Anderson) would create the "No Texting While Driving Act" which would prohibit texting or taking photographs while driving. Such acts would be punishable by a $20 fine.
  • SB 67 (Wood, Sharp; co-authored by Mazzei, Paddack) would amend the current distracted driving law to specifically prohibit using a handheld device or electronic device while driving. Fines for violation would not exceed misdemeanor fines.
  • SB 183 (Schulz) would amend 47 O.S. § 6-205.2 to prohibit commercial drivers from using a mobile device that writes, sends, or reads text-based communication.

Stalking, Victim Protective Orders, and Domestic Violence

  • HB 1350 (Rousselot) would strengthen penalties for repeat offenses of stalking or violating a victim protective order and modify requirements for emergency temporary orders of protection and VPOs.
  • HB 1351 (Rousselot) would allow sworn witness testimony by a third party as proof of domestic violence.
  • HB 1166 (Stone) would create Sandy's Law providing protection for witnesses of domestic violence in the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act.
  • HB 1035 (Tadlock) would allow evidence of previous acts of domestic abuse to be admitted in a domestic abuse case.
  • HB 1329 (Coody) allows a court order to demand that a person accused of domestic violence immediately relinquish all firearms and weapons if the victim is in danger of death or serious bodily harm.

Sex Crimes and Sex Offender Registration

  • HB 1057 (Tadlock) would require a sex offender to pay a $25 registration fee every time he or she is required to register, with the fee used for the costs of the local sex offender program.
  • HB 1683 (Denney) amends the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) to indicate that DNA testing required by the Department of Corrections must be submitted to the District Attorney's Office.
  • SB 167 (Griffin) clarifies sex offender restrictions to specify that a convicted sex offender may not come within 2000 feet of a playground owned or operated by a town or homeowners association.
  • SB 671 (Allen) defines "sexually violent offense" and allows chemical treatment of certain violent sex offenders upon conviction of a first offense.

Death Penalty

  • HB 1879 (Christian) would allow an alternate method of execution (nitrogen hypoxia) if existing measures are deemed unconstitutional.
  • SB  639 (Shortey) would eliminate electrocution as an alternate method of execution if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional.
  • SJR 31 (Sykes) would make a constitutional amendment establishing the validity of the death penalty and existing methods of execution.

These are far from the only proposals that would impact criminal law. Other bills seek to strengthen, amend, or add laws that would affect sentencing, criminal penalties, and prohibited acts involving guns, drugs, DUI, and other key areas of criminal law.



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