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Understanding Oklahomas sex crime community notification law

Community notification laws refer to the various laws in each state on which information regarding sex offenders is released to the public and to other organizations.

There are 32 states with laws that allow some type of notification, or access to information, on sex offenders.

They are generally broken down into the following categories:

  • Broad community notification – This pertains to the states that allow the broad release of sex offender information to the general public. There are 13 states that allow broad community notification.
  • Notification to organizations and people at risk – This tier of community notification involves notifying organizations and people who are vulnerable or at risk from a specific sex offender. There are eight states that enforce this type of community notification for sex offenders.
  • Access to registration information – Under this tier, citizens and organizations are able to obtain sex offender information through local law enforcement agencies. There are 11 states with this type of community notification law on the books.

What are the community notification laws in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, the following rules apply to sex offender notification:

  • Adult sex offenders are subject to the notification rules.
  • The state maintains a statewide database of sex offenders.
  • Sex offender registries are maintained by local law enforcement agencies.
  • Registration information can only be released to public and private elementary schools, state licensed child care facilities and providers, and entities that provide services to children.

What information is included on the Oklahoma sex offender registry?

In Oklahoma, sex offenders are required to include the following information on their registries:

  • Name
  • Alias
  • Date of birth
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Weight
  • Eye color
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Home address
  • Description of offense.

It’s worth noting that child care facilities and other child service centers are not allowed to see the sex offender’s home address.

How does Oklahoma’s law measure up with other laws?

A recent analysis of state laws regarding sex offender community notification proved the following to be true:

  • In most cases, sex offender notification is saved for the high-risk offenders or those who have been convicted of crimes against children.
  • There are various methods for notifying the community, including press releases, flyers, newspaper ads and mailouts.
  • The people who are notified usually learn the offender’s name, photo, approximate address, description of crime and age of the victim.
  • Usually, the general public has access to the sex offender information, but Oklahoma is one of the few that only allows access to organizations that deal with children.

Do you have questions about sex offender community notification laws? Are you a sex offender who doesn’t understand the registry? Contact Jacquelyn Ford Law today for a consultation.

Does racial profiling affect criminal charges

The American Civil Liberties Union defines racial profiling as the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race.

When police engage in criminal profiling, they rely on a list of traits that they believe is directly related to crime.

One example of racial profiling is stopping African-American drivers for minor traffic infractions, only in an attempt to find drugs, guns or other illegal contraband because the officer believes African Americans are more likely to carry illegal things.

How does racial profiling affect the criminal charges?

When officers arrest you for shoplifting, DUI or other charges, you want to believe that your race had nothing to do with it, but time and time again, that police target and arrest far more minorities than they do white people. That’s despite a laundry list of regulations and law enforcement training to prevent officers from acting on their illegal biases.

Did you know that you can be profiled for things other than race? Officers also target people for the following reasons:

  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • National origin

What’s more disturbing is that you might also receive a tougher punishment for the same crime as a white person, and your charges could be more serious. One example would be if you were charged with felony assault for a fight, while a Caucasian person was charged with misdemeanor disturbing the peace for the same type of fight.

It’s not just police officers with badges who participate in law enforcement racial profiling. It’s anyone who is acting in a “policing capacity” for public purposes. The following people also are included in the law enforcement category:

  • Airport security agents
  • Mall security guards
  • Airline pilots who have the power to boot passengers from commercial flights

The problem with racial profiling in criminal cases is that it is hard to prove. Often, it is your word against the officer’s word, and there could be accompanying evidence that you broke the law, even if that evidence was obtained because of profiling.

Do you know your rights?

In the evolving fight against racial profiling, it’s very important that you know your rights.

Here are some things to remember if you’re ever pulled over:

  • Police officers will try many different maneuvers to get you to consent to searching your vehicle. Do not give in. If an officer asks to search your vehicle, you say, “I do not consent to searches.”
  • This may not stop them from searching your vehicle, but it means the burden is higher for them when justifying the search in court. However, in some cases it could help you win your case.  

If you have criminal charges that you believe are based on racial profiling, contact Jacquelyn Ford Law today.

 

Revenge porn law in Oklahoma

The term “revenge porn,” when it was initially coined, referred to sharing sexually explicit photos or other material depicting someone to get back at your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, whomever it was that broke up with you.

Since then, the term has evolved and more broadly includes sharing sexually explicit photos or materials of someone without their consent. That can be on any medium – via email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, text message – or any other type of communication.

Whether it’s used to get back at someone or used to blackmail the victim, revenge porn is against the law in 28 states – including Oklahoma – and the District of Columbia.

“Non-consensual pornography is a destructive act that especially targets women, and it should be a crime,” said state Senator David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, the lawmaker who crafted Oklahoma’s revenge porn law. “Our statutes often don’t contemplate modern life, and this is one of those situations. I am grateful that so far my colleagues agree.”

What is Oklahoma’s revenge porn law?

In Oklahoma, it is a crime to do the following:

  • Disseminate images of another person engaged in a sexual act with the intent to harass or humiliate the person.

What are the punishments for Oklahoma’s revenge porn law?

If convicted of revenge porn, the first offense is a misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses are considered felonies:

  • If convicted, you can get up to one year in prison and a fine of $25,000.

If you or someone you know is arrested for revenge porn, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case.

 

An overview of sexual assault charges in Oklahoma

Sexual assault is generally defined as any type of sexual contact or sexual behavior that is unwanted and not solicited, but the laws on sexual assault vary from state to state. In the state of Oklahoma, there are three main sexual assault charges. Those are rape, rape by instrument and forcible sodomy.

How does Oklahoma define rape?

The rape statute in Oklahoma defines rape as “an act of sexual intercourse involving vaginal or anal penetration” (with someone who is not married to the offender). The rape can be broken down as first-degree rape or second-degree rape. One or more of the following circumstances must apply:

  • The victim under the age of 16.
  • The victim is unable to consent due to mental illness or any mental instability. The mental illness or mental incapacitation can be temporary or permanent (first-degree rape).
  • The offender used force or violence – or threatened to use force or violence (first-degree rape).
  • The victim is unconscious, and the offender knows that the victim is unconscious and still has sexual intercourse with him or her (first-degree rape).
  • The victim consents to the sexual intercourse because he or she believes that the offender is his or her spouse because the offender has deceived the victim.
  • The victim is under the legal custody of a government agency, and an employee of the agency engages in sexual intercourse with the person in custody.
  • The victim is a student between 16 and 20 years old, or is under the legal supervision of a school, and has sex with an offender who is 18 years old or older and is an employee of the school system where the victim is a student.

You can be charged with raping your spouse in Oklahoma, if it is proven that you had intercourse with them by using force or violence – or threatening to use force or violence.

What is rape by instrumentation?

Rape by instrumentation is defined as unwanted sexual penetration, either vaginal or anal. If the victim consents but is under the age of 16, it is considered second-degree rape.

It is considered first-degree rape if one or both of the following conditions are present:

  • The victim is under the age of 14.
  • The act results in serious bodily injury.

What is forcible sodomy?

The general definition of sodomy is any type of oral or anal sex. Sometimes, it is more broadly defined as any type of sexual activity that isn’t done for procreation. In Oklahoma state law, however, the forcible sodomy statute is typically used to prosecute forced oral sex.

The conditions for forcible sodomy in Oklahoma are very much like the conditions for rape. They include:

  • The victim under the age of 16.
  • The victim is unable to consent due to mental illness or any mental instability. The mental illness or mental incapacitation can be temporary or permanent
  • The offender used force or violence – or threatened to use force or violence.
  • The victim is under the legal custody of a government agency, and an employee of the agency engages in sexual intercourse with the person in custody.
  • The victim is a student between 16 and 20 years old, or is under the legal supervision of a school, and has sex with an offender who is 18 years old or older and is an employee of the school system where the victim is a student.

 

Understanding prescription fraud in Oklahoma

Prescription fraud has become a prevalent problem for both the health care profession and law enforcement nationwide. It’s becoming increasingly problematic as the country continues to fight an opioid epidemic that kills people every day.  

Prescription fraud is defined as obtaining – or trying to obtain – prescription drugs by deceiving someone, misrepresenting yourself, or engaging in other types of fraud. In Oklahoma, prescription fraud is a criminal charge that can be prosecuted as a felony – even if fail to obtain the prescription that you were trying to fraudulently obtain.

What are the elements of prescription fraud?

Prescription fraud involves many factors, including:

  • Forging the name of a doctor or pharmacist
  • Changing or hiding prescription information
  • Changing or hiding names, addresses, names of drugs, or other material things that are relevant when obtaining a prescription
  • Convincing other people to alter prescriptions or issue counterfeit prescriptions to you.

People who commit prescription fraud often resort to the following actions:

  • Doctor shopping, or going to multiple doctors for the same prescription
  • Stealing prescription medications from friends or strangers
  • Stealing prescription pads from doctor’s offices
  • Robbing pharmacies
  • Buying stolen drugs

It’s important to note that if you see a doctor in order to try and obtain a fraudulent prescription, the doctor-patient communication privilege that is normally applied in law goes out the window.

What happens if you are convicted of prescription fraud?

In Oklahoma, prescription fraud is punishable by:

  • A maximum of 10 years in state prison
  • A maximum fine of $10,000
  • Both prison time and a fine

If you get more than one conviction for prescription fraud, the law does not all for suspended sentences or probation in lieu of prison.

How is Oklahoma making it harder to commit prescription fraud?

In 2015, Oklahoma was named the Number One state in the United States of America for prescription painkiller abuse, which means using painkillers for nonmedical purposes. A report done in 2012 concluded that there were an average of two drug overdoses per day in Oklahoma, making drug overdoses the Number One cause of accidental deaths in the entire state.  

Because of that distinction, Oklahoma government responded with a number of measures to curb prescription painkiller abuse, particularly with the Prescription Monitoring Program that was expanded in 2006.

The Prescription Monitoring Program does the following:

  • Collects and reports the names and telephone numbers of prescription users.
  • Requires all prescriptions to be reported to the PMP database within five minutes of being delivered to a patient.
  • Requires that doctors check patient PMP records to make sure the patient doesn’t have a habit of abusing opioids and “benzos,” or mild tranquilizers that are used to treat anxiety.

 

Charges and penalties for pot in Oklahoma

It’s no secret that Oklahoma has some of the toughest – if not the toughest – penalties for marijuana possession in the country. A quick Google search will show headlines like, “5 worst states to get busted with pot,” or “Oklahoma’s harsh marijuana possession law has its critics.”

It’s said that more than 12,000 Oklahoma residents are arrested for marijuana possession every year. Twelve other states arrest a higher percentage of their residents for marijuana possession, though it’s likely that no other state punishes more severely for pot.

So, what is it about Oklahoma’s marijuana laws that give Oklahoma such a reputation?

What is the punishment for a marijuana possession conviction?   

In Oklahoma, if you get busted with any amount of marijuana – even if it is just a small amount – it is a crime, punishable by:

  • A fine
  • Up to one year in jail for a first offense
  • Two – ten years in prison for second and subsequent offenses

What are the punishments for growing and selling marijuana?

It is illegal to grow or sell marijuana, or even to possess marijuana with the intent to sell it. Your punishment depends on how much marijuana you were caught growing, selling, or possessing with the intent to sell.

Penalties include:

  • A fine of up to $20,000, between two years and life in prison – or both – if you are convicted of growing up to 1,000 plants or selling 25 pounds or less.
  • A maximum $50,000 fine, twenty years to life in prison – or both – if you are convicted of growing 1,000 or more plants.
  • A fine no lower than $25,000 and no higher than $100,000, between four years and life in prison – or both – if you are convicted of selling between 25 and 1,000 pounds of marijuana.
  • A fine of no less than $100,000 and no more than $500,000, four years to life in prison – or both – if you are convicted of selling 1,000 pounds or more of marijuana.

 

If you get caught selling marijuana to a minor or caught selling it within 2,000 feet of a school, park or public housing, your penalties can double.

What are the penalties for drug paraphernalia?

Not only is it illegal for you to possess marijuana, it’s also against the law for you to possess paraphernalia – or items used to grow, process, sell, store, smoke or consume pot. Examples include bongs, pipes, roach clips, and more.

Penalties for drug paraphernalia are:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • A maximum $1,000 fine for your first conviction
  • A maximum $5,000 fine for the second offense
  • A maximum $10,000 for third or subsequent convictions

In 2011, lawmakers made the manufacturing of hash – a purified preparation of marijuana resin glands – punishable by a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of life. If you’re arrested for marijuana in Oklahoma, make sure you hire an experienced defense attorney to help weave you through the web of strict marijuana laws.

 

What Happens to Illegally Obtained Evidence?

When police perform a search, there are certain rules they have to follow. The fourth amendment guarantees protection from unreasonable search and seizure to every American. The exact words read:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Unfortunately, these rules aren’t always followed and illegal searches happen all the time. This this is especially true in drug cases. As an OKC drug lawyer, we always check to make sure any searches were performed properly and lawfully when we defend a client against drug charges.

So if the search is proven to be illegal, what happens to the evidence? Thanks to the handy dandy constitution, any evidence found via an illegal search is normally deemed inadmissible. This exclusionary rule means that if the cops illegally search your car and find 5 kilos of Colombian bam bam in car, the case probably won’t hold up in court.

This is why it’s so important to work with an OKC drug lawyer who knows the ins and outs of Oklahoma search and seizure laws.

Protection from illegal searches can sometimes go a step further than just evidence found directly by an illegal search. There’s a legal doctrine known as fruit of the poisonous tree, which says evidence found as the result of an illegal search can’t be used either.

For example, if the cops illegally take your phone and start going through it and happen to find a text about where your secret stash of pot is, they can’t use the pot, or the text, against you.

Your right go about your day without being searched for no good reason is not something you should let slip away. If your rights were violated during an illegal search and you’re facing drug charges as a result, give us a call for a free consultation.

Prescription Drug Fraud In Oklahoma

Oklahoma sure does have a lot of problems lately. We’re running low on cash, it’s hotter than hades, and our poor schools could use some help. Another problem on the list most Oklahomans aren’t aware of is prescription drug fraud.

We rank at the top of the list when it comes to using prescription painkillers for a nonmedical purpose. To combat this rising tide, Oklahoma lawmakers have made several aggressive legislative moves. The most prominent being the Prescription Monitoring Program.

The program is designed to allow law enforcement and doctors to monitor who has been prescribed what and when that prescription was filled. Doctors are required to register any prescription that was filled and check the database before prescribing painkillers.

Prescription drug fraud in Oklahoma comes with a $10,000 fine and up to ten years in jail. Judges can award this sentence to anyone caught with unprescribed drugs as well as those attempting to get drugs with a fraudulent prescription. Meaning if you try to get drugs with a fake or forged prescription, but fail to do so, you can still get fined $10,000 and 10 years in jail.

If you have contact with a doctor with the sole purpose of getting drugs under false pretenses, doctor patient privilege does not apply.

This is a serious issue that affects thousands of our fellow Oklahomans every year. If you’ve been charged with prescription fraud, call an Oklahoma prescription drug fraud lawyer. At Jacquelyn Ford Law we treat prescription drug fraud cases differently than other firms.

Not only will we help take care of your legal problems, we’ll help find you a treatment program to attend during your trial. We want to do more than be your OKC attorney, we want to help you get your life back.

Why Brock Turner Wasn’t Convicted of Rape

 

Brock Turner is a familiar name to those who have followed the news lately. The disgraced Stanford swimmer sexually assaulted an unconscious woman on campus, but only received a six month sentence.

Brock turnerHis short sentence has been the subject of major controversy. Despite the prosecutor’s request for a much harsher sentence, the judge only sentenced Turner to six months. Outraged critics have suggested this is a prime example of lax policies on campus rape and overly lenient sentences for young, privileged, and wealthy whites.

We won’t be broaching those criticisms today, instead we’ll explore another factor that most likely played at least a small part in the sentencing.

In contrast to headlines and social media posts, under California’s laws Turner isn’t technically considered a rapist. California (and other states) has very specific laws that make distinction between sexual assault and rape.

WARNING THE FOLLOWING CONTENT IS GRAPHIC

Unless there is genital-to-genital contact, the crime is not considered rape in California. Since the DNA evidence showed no signs of genital-to-genital contact, the rape charges originally filed against Turner were dropped.

Instead of rape, Turner was charged with three counts of felony sexual assault:

  • Sexual penetration of an intoxicated woman
  • Assault with intent to commit rape
  • Sexual penetration of an unconscious woman

Although he wasn’t convicted of rape, Turner will have to register as a sex offender.

California isn’t alone in being criticized for sexual assault laws. Our own great state of Oklahoma came under fire recently for our oral sodomy laws. As a Oklahoma City sexual assault attorney, Jacqui has personally taken a stand to ensure every citizen in Oklahoma receives a fair trial no matter what they are accused of.

If you’ve been accused of rape or sexual assault, call us today for a consultation. These aren’t the kind of charges you want to face alone.

Bill Cosby Will Stand Trial

 

The iconic comedian and actor who played the memorable character Dr. Huxtable, will go to trial for sexual assault charges. The first accusations against Bill Cosby surfaced in 2004 from Andrea Constand who worked for Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater.

Soon after Constand came forward, more than 50 women also came out accusing Cosby of sexually assaulting them. Due to statute of limitations, Cosby will never have to deal with most of these claims.

Up until a few weeks ago, Cosby’s lawyers have been able to fight the accusations and keep him out of court, but their efforts fell short in the latest preliminary hearing.

During the hearing a Pennsylvania judge mainly heard testimony from those involved in the original investigation back in 2004. Detectives from the Montgomery County Detective read statements taken during the investigation.

Constand herself did not actually testify.

After hearing the testimony and questioning, the judge decided there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial. According to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, since this was a preliminary hearing, “hearsay is admissible.”

Cosby’s lawyers were vocal in the disapproval of the decision.

“There was no evidence of a crime here. And the inconsistencies that plagued this investigation from the beginning continue to plague it now. This case should end immediately.”

The fact that the case is advancing to trial is by no means an indication of Cosby’s guilt. This only means the judge feels a trial is justified based on the initial evidence. The burden of proof is much lower in a preliminary hearing, all that need to be proven was that a crime occurred and that Cosby was connected to the crime.

This is one case that you can bet will be in the public spotlight. If Cosby is convicted he can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison for each charge.