Oklahoma’s Youthful Offender Act allows teenagers charged with serious crimes the opportunity for release into the community if they complete a treatment program. It gives a sentencing alternative for those teenagers, rather than dealing with them purely as a juvenile or as an adult. The purpose of the Youthful Offender Act is to better ensure the public safety by holding youths accountable for the commission of serious crimes, while affording courts methods of rehabilitation for those youths the courts determine, at their discretion, may be amenable to such methods. It is the further purpose of the Youthful Offender Act to allow those youthful offenders whom the courts find to be amenable to rehabilitation by the methods prescribed in the Youthful Offender Act to be placed in the custody or under the supervision of the Office of Juvenile Affairs for the purpose of accessing the rehabilitative programs provided by that Office. The statutes that cover youthful offenders in Oklahoma are 10A O.S. §§ 2-5-201–2-5-301
Who Is Eligible To Be A Youthful Offender?
A youthful offender is someone who is:
- 13 or 14 years old and charged with murder in the first degree and certified as a youthful offender as provided by the Youthful Offender Act;
- 15, 16, or 17 years old and charged with Murder in the second degree, Kidnapping, Manslaughter in the first degree, Robbery with a dangerous weapon or a firearm or attempt thereof, Robbery in the first degree or attempt thereof, Rape in the first degree or attempt thereof, Rape by instrumentation or attempt thereof, Forcible sodomy, Lewd molestation, Arson in the first degree or attempt thereof, Shooting with intent to kill, Use of vehicle to facilitate discharge of firearm, and Assault and battery with a deadly weapon; or
- 16 or 17 years old and charged with Burglary in the first degree or attempted burglary in the first degree, Battery or assault and battery on a state employee or contractor while in the custody or supervision of the Office of Juvenile Affairs, Aggravated assault and battery of a police officer, Intimidating a witness, Trafficking in or manufacturing illegal drugs, Assault or assault and battery with a deadly weapon, Maiming, Residential burglary in the second degree after two or more adjudications that are separated in time for delinquency for committing burglary in the first degree or residential burglary in the second degree, Rape in the second degree; or Use of a firearm while in commission of a felony.
How Does Someone Become A Youthful Offender?
The state may elect to charge the defendant as a youthful offender. They do this by filing a youthful offender Information. An Information is the offender’s official charging document.
How Does Someone Get Out Of Becoming A Youthful Offender?
Either the state or the defense may request that the defendant not be a youthful offender. When the state does it, they are trying to have the defendant sentenced as an adult. When the defense does it, they are trying to have the defendant certified as a juvenile.
What Happens To A Youthful Offender After Sentencing?
A youthful offender sentence is the same length as an adult sentence, but it includes a plan for rehabilitation. All incarceration and probation is under the Office of Juvenile Affairs until the defendant is 18 years and 5 months old. If the defendant successfully completes the youthful offender sentence, then their case is dismissed and expunged. If the youthful offender ages out before completing the plan or fails, the court will then hold a hearing to resentence. The court may either change the sentence or sentence the defendant as an adult. If the court sentences the defendant as an adult, then they will be placed in the custody of the Department of Corrections.
Sources: 10A O.S. § 2-5-205, 10A O.S. § 2-5-202, 10A O.S. § 2-5-210, 10A O.S. § 2-5-213, 10A O.S. § 2-5-209, 10A O.S. § 2-5-204, 10A O.S. § 2-5-203, 10A O.S. § 2-5-206, 10A O.S. § 2-5-208, & 21 O.S. § 652