In an effort to give you a greater understanding of how misdemeanors are handled in Stillwater, Oklahoma, this is a basic description of the Oklahoma misdemeanor process.
In Oklahoma, a misdemeanor can be prosecuted either in a state or municipal court. In either case, the process often begins prior to your arrest or being charged with any criminal offense.
In this phase of the process, known as pre-arrest investigation, the authorities will gather information regarding the case. Many times, they will try to get a statement from you to determine if there is actually enough cause to charge you.
If it is subsequently concluded that there is enough cause, a warrant then will be issued for your arrest.
In cases where there is no pre-trial investigation, your case will commence once you are arrested and booked.
Usually, you will be physically taken into custody on a misdemeanor charge, photographed, fingerprinted, and placed inside a cell.
Depending on the nature of the charge against you, you may be released without posting bail and given a date to appear in court again for your arraignment.
Certain crimes, such as shoplifting, typically don’t require the police to take you into custody. You might just be issued a ticket and released along with a date to return to court for your arraignment.
Arraignment in the Oklahoma Misdemeanor Process
The arraignment will be the first occasion you come before a judge during the Oklahoma misdemeanor process. This hearing is held in a courtroom.
The judge will explain the charges against you and set your bail if it hasn’t already been set.
You’ll typically then enter a plea of not guilty and be given a date to reappear in court.
In the event you have retained a defense attorney before your arraignment, he or she can appear in court to respond to the charges on your behalf. Thus, there is no need for you to attend.
Discovery in the Oklahoma Misdemeanor Process
Once you’ve been arraigned in the Oklahoma misdemeanor process, your attorney is allowed to make what is called a discovery request to obtain all of the information the authorities have compiled in support of the prosecution’s charges against you. This information may include the police report as well as any witness testimony that has been obtained.
As soon as your attorney receives this information, he or she will have a better understanding of the strength of the prosecutor’s case against you and will be able to organize your defense accordingly.
Jury Trial Sounding Docket
The next phase in the Oklahoma misdemeanor process is the Jury Trial Sounding (JTS) Docket or Conference Docket.
During this phase, your defense attorney and the prosecutor will commence negotiations to settle the case by way of a plea bargain. This means you will be given the choice to plead guilty to the charges against you in exchange for having your charges or sentence reduced.
Many misdemeanor cases are settled at this point with no need for a trial.
However, if no plea bargain can be made, the case will proceed to a discovery hearing.
The discovery hearing in the Oklahoma misdemeanor process must occur 10 days before a jury trial. The prosecution and your defense attorney will disclose whether or not they have indeed exchanged discovery, which must include all police reports, witness testimony and recorded evidence.
Ten days after your discovery hearing, you will be tried before a jury of six citizens (versus 12 for a felony case). All jurors must agree on a verdict.
Anyone charged with a criminal offense has the constitutional right to be:
- tried before a jury;
- represented by an attorney;
- and presumed innocent before being found guilty.
The accused also has the right to cross examine any witness who testifies against him or her in court.
Furthermore, the prosecution has the burden of needing to prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
If the jury returns a guilty verdict, your trial will proceed to the sentencing phase. This is where the judge will pronounce the sentence you must complete for the crime.
If you are found not guilty, you will be free to go.
Free Consultation: Stillwater Misdemeanor Defense Attorney
For more specific information regarding the Oklahoma misdemeanor process, contact Wirth Law Office – Stillwater. Our Payne County criminal attorney brings a solid track record of successful misdemeanor defense work in Stillwater and Payne County, Oklahoma.
For a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Stillwater misdemeanor defense attorney, simply dial 405-673-1600.
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