|How do I get out of jail?
|For many misdemeanor charges, there are pre-set
bonds. If there is no pre-set bond, the magistrate sets the
bond based on several factors. You may post the bond or
hire a bail bondsman to post it for
you to be release from custody during the criminal process.
|I was arrested - doesn't
that mean I am guilty?
|No. In order to support an arrest, a police
officer only needs 'probable cause'. That means that a
reasonable person would believe that it is more likely than not that
a crime was committed and the person arrested was the person who
committed it. The standard that the state must prove to sustain a
conviction is 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. This is a much
higher standard of proof.
|I really did it.
Shouldn't I enter a plea of guilty and take 'what is coming to me'?
No, it's not that simple. In order to be convicted, you must
be both factually and legally guilty. Remember that the
criminal justice system is an adversarial process. The burden
is on the state to show that the evidence not only supports the
guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, but that the
evidence was lawfully obtained. Evidence that was not lawfully
obtained must be suppressed and can not be used in court.
Further, mitigating evidence may often be taken into account prior
to determining punishment.
didn't read me my rights, does that matter?
That depends. If you were not questioned then it does not.
If you were not detained when you were questioned, then it does not.
If your statements are not required to support a guilty verdict,
then they do not matter. If you made statements without being
prompted to make statements by the state, they will not be
|The police didn't get my
permission before they searching my car, does that matter?
|Generally speaking, all searches conducted without a
warrant are per se unreasonable and therefore will be suppressed.
There are several exceptions to this general statement.
Police may search any movable
vehicle if they have probable cause to believe that the vehicle
contains contraband. (i.e. they smell the contraband or
see the contraband.)
Police may seize any evidence
that is in 'plain view' of the officer.
Police may conduct a 'pat-frisk'
if they have reason to believe the person they are about to
search may be armed. This search is a restricted search
and limited to the outer garments. However, if upon
touching an item, the police immediately recognize it as
contraband, the police may seize it. This is called the
'Plain Feel Doctrine'.
Police may search of a police K-9
has alerted on the thing to be searched (within certain limits).
Police may search an area and a
person incident to an arrest. This is limited to an area
within the wingspan of the person arrested.
Police may conduct an inventory
of a vehicle if it is subject to being impounded. This is
not a 'search' because the purpose is to preserve the contents
of the vehicle.
|What is a 'Plea Bargain'?
|A 'Plea Bargain' is a tool often used by the
prosecution to induce the accused person to enter a plea of 'guilty'
in exchange for a known punishment that is less than the statutory
maximum. These bargains often include a deferred or suspended
sentence and probation. The prosecution may also dismiss
certain charges or amend the charge to a lesser one. Mr. Dunn
is a Tulsa criminal
defense lawyer who is capable of advising you and guiding you
through whatever criminal legal situation you have encountered.
|Is a 'Plea Bargain' always
a good idea?
|The answer here generally depends on two things.
First, if the accused can abide by the terms of the agreement,
including making payments on costs or restitution, completed
counseling or community service hours. If the defendant can
not abide by those terms, a plea bargain is a recipe for disaster.
The second consideration has to do with whether the crime to which a
'guilty' plea is entered can be used for enhancement in the event of
a second conviction. For example, a second offense for
possession of marijuana or DUI can be filed as a felony. A
guilty verdict in a felony case may result in enhanced punishment
should the accused be accused of a second felony within ten years.
|What is a 'deferred
|A 'deferred sentence' is often given to first time
offenders as part of a plea bargain. In a 'deferred sentence'
the accused enters a plea of guilty and the judge withholds a
finding of guilt for a period of time. During that time, the
accused must make certain payments, complete community service, or
some kind of counseling program. If the accused successfully
completes these tasks prior to their reappearance before the judge,
they are allowed to withdraw their guilty plea and the case is
dismissed and the court record is expunged. The most important
thing about a 'deferred sentence' is it is NOT a guilty verdict.
|What is a suspended sentence?
|A 'suspended sentence' is a guilty verdict in which
the person is allowed to be free while they serve their sentence.
During that time, they are under probation and are said to be in the
custody of the Department of Corrections. When the period of
time has expired, the sentence has been carried out, but it remains
on the defendant's record as a guilty verdict.
|What happens if I violate the terms of my
|When someone is serving a 'deferred sentence' or a
'suspended sentence' they only remain free so long as they abide by
the terms of their probation. Any infraction can result
in a 'Application to accelerate a deferred sentence' or a 'motion to
revoke a suspended sentence'. In that hearing, the state need
only prove that the conditions of probation were violated by
preponderance of the evidence. The facts of the underlying
charge are NOT considered, as the defendant has already entered a
'guilty' plea. If the state meets its burden of proof, the
entire sentence may be revoked and the defendant can be
incarcerated for any period allowed by statute - regardless of the
period of time that has already been served. For more detailed
information pertaining to these or other questions, please contact
John Dunn, a Tulsa
criminal lawyer well informed on all matters relating to