Deferred Sentence in Oklahoma – Law & Effect – Criminal Defense Attorney

With a deferred sentence in Oklahoma, the defendant pleads guilty to a crime and is placed on probation. If the defendant successfully completes probation, then their case is dismissed. Although the defendant pleads guilty initially, the defendant does not get an immediate conviction on their record. Any sentencing is deferred until the end of the probationary period. If the defendant stays out of trouble and abides by all the probationary terms, then the defendant will not be sentenced, and the case will be dismissed. Possible terms of probation include not committing any more crimes, taking classes, paying fines, performing community service, paying restitution, paying supervision fees, and installing an interlock. A sentence can be deferred for up to ten years. The statute that covers deferred sentences in Oklahoma is 22 O.S. § 991c.

Who Is Not Eligible For A Deferred Sentence In Oklahoma?

A defendant is not eligible for a deferred sentence if he or she is a convicted felon or received a deferred judgment for a felony within the ten years prior to the commission of the most recent offense. The prosecutor may waive that prohibition. Defendants found guilty or who plead guilty or no contest to a sex offense that requires registration pursuant to the Sex Offenders Registration Act are ineligible for a deferred sentence. This cannot be waived.

What Are The Conditions Of A Deferred Sentence?

Conditions that the court may order the defendant to comply with during a deferred sentence include:

  1. Pay court costs;
  2. Pay an assessment in lieu of any fine authorized by law for the offense;
  3. Pay any other assessment or cost authorized by law;
  4. Perform community service without compensation, according to a schedule consistent with the employment and family responsibilities of the defendant;
  5. County jail confinement for a period not to exceed 90 days or the maximum amount of jail time provided for the offense, if it is less than 90 days;
  6. Pay an amount as reimbursement for reasonable attorney fees, to be paid into the court fund, if a court-appointed attorney has been provided to the defendant;
  7. Be supervised in the community for a period not to exceed two years, unless a petition alleging the violation of any condition of deferred judgment is filed during the period of supervision. As a condition of any supervision, the defendant has to pay a supervision fee of $40 per month. The supervision fee will be waived in whole or part by the supervisory agency when the accused is indigent. Nobody will be denied supervision based solely on the inability of the person to pay a fee;
  8. Pay into the court fund a monthly amount not exceeding $40 per month during any period during which the proceedings are deferred when the defendant is not to be supervised in the community. The total amount to be paid into the court fund cannot exceed the amount of the maximum fine authorized by law for the offense;
  9. Make other reparations to the community or victim as required and deemed appropriate by the court;
  10. Order any conditions that can be imposed for a suspended sentence pursuant to O.S. § 991a(1); or
  11. Any combination of the above provisions.

A deferred sentence is typically a good outcome. It is the next best option after dismissal. It’s the court’s way of giving the defendant a “slap on the wrist” in the hopes that they will learn from this ordeal and turn their life around.

Can A Deferred Sentence Be Expunged In Oklahoma?

A case that is dismissed following the end of a deferred sentence may be eligible for a full expungement. This also depends on whether or not the defendant is a convicted felon when the defendant was last convicted of a misdemeanor, and whether the defendant has any other cases pending (or on another deferred sentence). A misdemeanor case that is dismissed following the expiration of a deferred sentence is eligible for expungement one year after the case is dismissed. Five years must pass after dismissal for a deferred felony sentence to be eligible for dismissal. Many people think that the case can be expunged after probation ends. That is incorrect. The one-year clock starts ticking once the case gets dismissed. This is important to know because most cases in state courts do not automatically get dismissed following the successful end of a deferred sentence. It usually takes some affirmative action to ensure the case gets dismissed.

Something unique to deferred sentences is the § 991c expungement. This is a “mini-expungement” that affects a couple of things. First, the case’s disposition with the OSBI changes from “pled guilty case deferred” to “pled not guilty case dismissed.” Second, it removes the case information from public court records and the internet. Records expunged in this way are sealed to the public but not to law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes. The records are admissible in any subsequent criminal prosecution to prove the existence of a prior conviction or prior deferred judgment without needing a court order requesting the unsealing of such records.

What Is An Accelerated Deferred Sentence?

If a defendant violates any condition of a deferred judgment, the court may enter a judgment of guilt and suspend the sentence or modify a condition of probation. The court may also sentence the defendant to the maximum time in jail or prison according to the law that was violated. Or, the court can “sanction” the defendant by imposing punishment such as 30 days in jail or extra community service.

The process starts with a prosecutor filing an application to accelerate. The prosecutor will typically be seeking the acceleration of the sentence to at least a conviction. However, just because a motion to accelerate is filed, that doesn’t mean that the defendant will ultimately be receiving a conviction. Sometimes the sanction is enough to satisfy the prosecutor, or the defendant needs a “wake up call” to get back on track with classes or paying fees. If the defendant promptly satisfies the probation requirements they weren’t doing or sufficiently gets back on the right track, then the application to accelerate may be dismissed.

Sources: 22 O.S. § 991a & 22 O.S. § 991c