What is a 'Violent' Crime or Offense in Oklahoma?

I cannot count the times a current or potential client has been misinformed on the nature of "violent" crimes and offenses in Oklahoma. Most of this stems from false information regarding the applicable laws or ingnorance induced by an attempt to apply common sense in a nonsensical area of the law. I am often asked questions such as "what crimes are considered violent?" and "is there a list of violent crimes?" among other inquires. Hopefully the following will help clear up some commonly held misonceptions about violent crime charges in Oklahoma and their potential repercussions.

A list of violent crimes can be found section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma statues. The list is inclusive, so if a crime is not included in the list, then it is not considered a violent crime. Many people have the false impression that violent crimes are any crimes that involve violence, such as weapon charges or other crimes that involve some sort of violent aspect. This is not true, however. There are some crimes, such as Aggravated Trafficking in Illegal Drugs, which involve no "violent" aspect as defined by other agencies but are still included in the list of violent crimes.

Another question I often receive is "what happens if I am convicted of a violent crime?" For all intents and purposes, there are two important consequences that can result from conviction of a violent crime in Oklahoma. First and foremost, a violent crime conviction will not be eligible for parole granted solely by the Pardon and Parole Board. In regards to violent crimes, the Pardon and Parole Board can merely recommend parole, but the final decision will come down to the Governor. This can be detrimental in some cases, but in most it makes little differences. Many, but not all, of the violent crimes listed in Oklahoma are "85%" crimes, which require an inmate to serve 85% of his or her sentence prior to becoming eligible for parole consideration or earned "good-time" credits which could significantly shorten an offender's prison sentence.

The other consequence that needs to be considered is that a conviction for a violent crime is not eligible for expungement under the current laws in Oklahoma. As such, the best relief someone could hope for after his or her conviction for a violent crime is a pardon. However, much like the case with parole consideration, the Pardon and Parole board can only recommend a pardon for a violent crime conviction. After the recommendation, the ultimate decision will be left up to the Governor.

In Oklahoma, some violent crimes can also lead to mandatory registration on the Violent Offender Registry. Not all crimes listed as violent in Oklahoma require registration, however. A convict will only be required to register as a violent offender if he or she is convicted of one of the following crimes:

  1. first degree murder;  
  2. second degree murder as provided for in Section 701.8 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes;  
  3. manslaughter in the first degree;  
  4. shooting or discharging a firearm with intent to kill;  
  5. use of a vehicle to facilitate the intentional discharge of a firearm, crossbow or other weapon;  
  6. assault, battery, or assault and battery with a deadly weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm;  
  7. assault with intent to kill;  
  8. bombing;  
  9. abuse, when determined necessary by the sentencing judge; and  
  10. any crime or attempt to commit a crime constituting a substantially similar offense listed above which is adjudicated by any court of another state, the United States, a tribal court, or a military court.  

In regards to the potential repercussions a violent crime can have on a prison sentence, sadly there is no definitive answer. As long as the violent crime is not an 85% crime, it will not inhibit an offender from receiving earned "good-time" credits. An inmate will not necessarily have to do more time simply because he or she was convicted of a crime listed as a violent offense.

Conviction of a violent crime can possibly be used as a factor considered by the assessment and reception department of the Department of Corrections when deciding an inmates's originating security level, but it seems that most consideration is given to the offenders history, length of sentence, and crime committed (not merely whether it is "violent" or not). It is my experience that a conviction for a violent offense is not going to be the deciding factor in whether or not an offender goes to a minimum, medium, or maximum prison facility.

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