Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Common Legal Issues

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Are there differences between Oklahoma civil law and criminal law?


Civil law generally pertains to private litigation between two or more citizens. Civil law is a very broad label for all of the underlying legal fields that allow citizens the ability to settle disputes in a court of law and thus receive a binding disposition as to the conflict in question. The remedies available in civil suits are typically limited to money damages and/or injunctions.

Criminal law involves a citizen or a business being prosecuted by either a state or the federal government. The rules of the federal government and all individual state governments are codified into statutes. If the state or federal government believes that an individual has violated the rules set forth in its statutes, then the government will attempt to punish the individual for the alleged violation. The remedies available in criminal prosecutions can range from a small fine or community service to life imprisonment or death.

Can I get a different public defender if I don’t like my current one?

Once a Defendant enters a “pauper’s affidavit” and is granted a court-appointed attorney, he or she is limited in the ability to choose exactly who will be appointed as counsel. It is possible to secure a new public defender in the occasion that the attorney either has a conflict or is shown to be incompetent. However, the easiest way to secure legal representation of your choice is to hire a private attorney. The public defenders and attorneys for the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System are some of the most talented lawyers in the state; regardless, court-appointed attorneys are most often just as overworked as they are talented. Most Defendants choose to hire private counsel if they are able; consequently, they can rest assured that their case is receiving the proper individualized attention it deserves. Remember, the legal field is just like any other profession: you get what you pay for. Contact our criminal defense law firm now so that we may provide you with a free and confidential consultation.

Can I get both misdemeanors and felonies expunged?

Please see our page on expungements.

Can I plead the fifth?

Any time an individual is asked to testify, he or she may “plead the fifth.” This phrase refers to a witness’s refusal to testify on the ground that the testimony might tend to incriminate the witness in a crime. This protection is based on the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which provides that "No person....shall be compelled to be a witness against himself," applied to state courts by the 14th Amendment. As such, you can only plead the fifth when you are being asked to testify about something that you personally did or didn’t do.

Can I represent myself in a criminal proceeding?

There is an old saying often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, one of history’s greatest lawyers:

“He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Though every person has a constitutional right to represent his or herself “pro se,” it is always best to hire an experienced Oklahoma criminal defense attorney. Even the best lawyers in Oklahoma hire outside counsel to represent them when they face criminal prosecution. The stakes are simply too high. Would you attempt life-altering surgery on yourself instead of hiring a surgeon? No, of course you wouldn’t. An Oklahoma criminal prosecution can have potentially life-altering ramifications as well. You need an objective party to give you an unbiased third-person view of your situation, because that’s what you will be facing in the event you have to go to jury trial. If you are only facing a small fine, you may want to save the money and represent yourself. However, if you are facing jail time, it is extremely important you hire someone to protect your rights.

Do I have to be physically present in court if I have hired an attorney?

A Defendant’s appearance will not be necessary at every stage of the criminal process. However it is integral that you check with your attorney before you make any plans that would interfere with you being physically present at all of your court dates. There are times when your attorney will be able to get the court to excuse your appearance; however, there are many stages where the Defendant’s appearance is necessary and may not be excused.

Do I need an attorney at my arraignment?


It is very helpful to have a criminal lawyer there defending you, even at such an early stage in the criminal process. The judicial system can be a very tricky maze to navigate, and it helps to have someone by your side that has been through the process countless times. It is comforting to know that you have a guide who is confident he can steer your ship to shore. Furthermore, an experienced Oklahoma criminal defense attorney may be able to lower your bail or even negotiate to have you released on your own recognizance (O.R.) without putting up any money.

How long will a felony trial normally take?

A felony trial will usually last longer than a misdemeanor trial. The length of a felony trial is generally dependent on the type of criminal charge the Defendant is facing and the number of counts the prosecution has alleged. A felony trial can range anywhere from a few days to a few months depending on the seriousness of the allegations.

How long will a misdemeanor trial normally take?

A misdemeanor trial may take anywhere from one day to two weeks.

If I am convicted of a crime, will the conviction be a public record?


Even though a conviction for either a misdemeanor or a felony is public record and may be reviewed by the general public, you may be able to get the record of the conviction and possibly the record of the arrest expunged. Please see our page on expungements for more information.

Should I take a plea bargain?

A Defendant is generally able to secure a lighter sentence in exchange for a plea of guilty, so long as the plea is entered before the prosecution has to do too much work. By pleading guilty, a Defendant will at least have the security of knowing up front what his or her sentence is going to entail, as opposed to risking a harsher sentence through either a blind plea to the judge or a jury trial. A plea agreement allows a Defendant to admit fault and take responsibility for his or her actions. However, a Defendant should only take a plea bargain if he or she is guilty.

What are my Miranda Rights?

“You have the right to remain silent…anything you say can and will be used against you…”

This phrase is no doubt familiar to most, as the notion of “Miranda Rights” has been fully ingrained in our collective consciousness through pop culture. However, the protections of Miranda do not come into play anytime an officer merely attempts to question you. Two conditions must be met to necessitate an officer reading you your Miranda rights: first, you must be “in custody,” and second, the officer must be attempting to “interrogate” you. Both conditions are terms of legal art and require a working knowledge of the different factors and considerations that go into a determination of whether such conditions are met. If these two conditions are satisfied and the police do not inform you of your Miranda Rights, then your Constitutional rights have been violated. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is imperative that you retain an experienced Oklahoma criminal defense attorney to suppress any evidence the police obtained pursuant to the unconstitutional interrogation.

What does it mean to “post bail”?

Please see our page on the criminal process.

What happens if I am convicted of a felony?

Please see our page on felony conviction consequences.

What is a domestic crime?

A domestic crime is one that occurs within a family or involves individuals living under the same household or individuals in a dating relationship. As such, domestic violence involves physical aggression towards children, significant others, spouses, and even roommates.

What is the difference between a deferred sentence and a suspended sentence?

A deferred sentence is a finding of guilt that will not necessarily result in a criminal conviction. With a deferred sentence, the judge is deferring the conviction until some date in the future. The deferral of the conviction is almost always dependent on the Defendant completing certain terms and conditions enumerated in the plea agreement. If the Defendant is able to complete all of the terms and conditions of the pea agreement during his or her probation, then the charges will be dismissed at the end of the probationary period without a conviction.

A suspended sentence is a finding of guilt that will result in a criminal conviction. With a suspended sentence, the judge is suspending the incarceration time until some date in the future. The suspension of the jail time is almost always dependent on the Defendant completing certain terms and conditions enumerated in the plea agreement. If the Defendant is able to complete all of the terms and conditions of the pea agreement during his or her probation, then the Defendant will still have a conviction for the criminal violation, however the suspended jail time will be discharged at the end of the probationary period.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

A misdemeanor is not as serious an offense, and it usually only carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail. On the other hand, a felony is usually treated as a more serious crime that may carry a sentence of over one year in state prison. Felonies can result in life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

What is the legal age of consent in Oklahoma?

Being charged with first or second degree rape is an incredibly stressful and traumatic experience.

Any individual under the age of 16 in Oklahoma is considered unable to legally consent to sexual intercourse. If you are over the age of 18 and you have sex with someone under the age of 16, you may be criminally liable for statutory rape and many other possible sex crimes.  

I have successfully defended numerous clients in cases relating to the age of consent and helped them put their lives back on track in the process. If you have been charged with a crime or have found yourself in trouble due to the age of consent laws in Oklahoma, you can contact an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney at (405) 778-4800 or simply click here.

You can learn more about Federal and Oklahoma laws concerning the age of consent.

What type of sentence am I going to receive?

Sentencing will either be decided pursuant to a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s office, or in the absence of such agreement, by either a judge or a jury. In any situation the sentencing party will look to the surrounding circumstances, specifically the nature of the case, any past criminal history, any threat to the community, and the steps the Defendant has taken to either rectify the wrong or take responsible for the actions that resulted in the harm. Sentencing options range from mere community service or a fine, to imprisonment in a penitentiary, and even death.

When can a police officer search me or my property?

An officer may search any area where a person does not have an “expectation of privacy.” When an individual is found to have an expectation of privacy, a police officer may search the person and his or her belongings in three broad situations: if the officer receives the individual’s consent, if the officer has secured a search warrant, or if the officer can show that certain circumstances exist to except the subject from the necessity of a search warrant.