Oklahoma Criminal Law
Simply understanding the Oklahoma criminal laws affecting your case can help you get the compensation you need as a victim or reduce the severity of your sentence as a criminal. These laws can inform you about your rights as either a victim or a criminal and can work to your advantage if you learn about them and consult with an attorney.
Use LawInfo's criminal law articles to help educate yourself about Oklahoma's laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges and many other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with an Oklahoma criminal law attorney in Oklahoma City, Tusla, Broken Arrow or elsewhere in the state.
Oklahoma Prosecutors File Criminal Charges
Oklahoma's police officers do not file criminal charges nor act as prosecutors in a criminal lawsuit. Their part in a criminal case is mostly to make arrests, collect evidence and take statements to help build a case. Beyond that, they may testify in court if called upon.
Depending on a criminal case's jurisdiction, either an Oklahoma District Attorney or a United States Attorney will file charges and handle the prosecution in a lawsuit. District Attorneys prosecute local and state crimes while U.S. Attorneys prosecute federal crimes.
Oklahoma Criminal Statute of Limitations
A criminal cannot be held liable for just any type of crime indefinitely. If a crime is to be prosecuted, it must be done so before the evidence has deteriorated over time. To that end, Oklahoma enforces a criminal statute of limitations. This limits the amount of time in which a crime may be prosecuted before the criminal is essentially freed from their accountability for their offense. (See the Oklahoma Statutes § 22-151 through 153.)
Oklahoma's statute of limitations “runs” starting from either the time when the crime is committed or upon discovery of the crime. Once the statute of limitation for a specific crime runs out, no legal action may be brought against a criminal for that crime. The time limits for Oklahoma crimes include:
- No limitation for murder felonies.
- 12 years for rape, sodomy or sexual crimes against children.
- Seven years for bribery, falsification of public records, conspiracy to defraud, embezzlement or the misappropriation of public finances and solicitation for first-degree murder.
- Five years for state income tax law violations and writing a false/bogus check.
- Three years for all other felonies and misdemeanors.
Crime Classifications in Oklahoma
Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. Oklahoma has only two criminal offense classifications, in order of seriousness: felonies and misdemeanors.
Felonies are defined as offenses that are penalized with either death (for murder, the most serious crime) or imprisonment in a penitentiary. Many felony offenses are prescribed their own penalties by statute. However, any felony offenses that don't have their own statutory penalties receive a general sentence of up to two years of imprisonment, up to a $1,000 fine or both penalties. (See § 21-9.)
The state's laws recognize misdemeanors as any criminal offense that isn't a felony. Again, some misdemeanor offenses carry penalties defined by the offense's statute. The general sentence for misdemeanors includes up to one year of imprisonment, up to a $500 fine or both penalties. (See § 21-10.)
There are no sub-classifications for either class of criminal offenses. Oklahoma law breaks up some specific offenses such as murder into different degrees, however, to identify the spectrum of seriousness or severity of these crimes.