Domestic Violence Law in Oklahoma

Definition of Domestic Violence in Oklahoma

charged with domestic violence in oklahomaNote: The law referred to in this article goes into effect on November 1, 2019. The law that is applied is the law in effect on the date of the offense. Go here for the law prior to November 1, 2019.

Oklahoma refers to the crime of domestic violence as domestic abuse or domestic assault & battery. Domestic abuse in Oklahoma occurs when someone commits an assault and battery against a current or former intimate partner or a family or household member

“Intimate partner” means:

  1. current or former spouses;
  2. people who are or were in a dating relationship;
  3. people who are the biological parents of the same child, regardless of their marital status or whether they have lived together at any time; and
  4. people who currently or formerly lived together in an intimate way, primarily characterized by affectionate or sexual involvement. A sexual relationship may be an indicator that a person is an intimate partner, but is never a requirement.

“Family or household members” means:

  1. parents, grandparents, stepparents, adoptive parents, and foster parents
  2. children, grandchildren, stepchildren, adopted children, and foster children; and
  3. people otherwise related by blood or marriage living in the same household;

Punishment for Domestic Violence in Oklahoma

A first offense is a misdemeanor. The maximum punishment in jail is one year. The maximum fine is $5,000. A second and subsequent offense is a felony. For a second and subsequent offense, the maximum punishment in prison is five years. The maximum fine is $5,000.

A conviction for assault and battery against an intimate partner or a family or household member constitutes a sufficient basis for a felony charge if that conviction is rendered in any:

  1. state, county, or parish court of record in Oklahoma or any other state; or
  2. municipal court of record of Oklahoma or any other state for which any jail time was served. No conviction in a municipal court of record entered prior to November 1, 1997, will constitute a prior conviction for purposes of a felony charge.

Domestic Assault, Battery, & Assault & Battery With a Dangerous Weapon in Oklahoma

An assault, battery, or assault and battery with a sharp or dangerous weapon upon an intimate partner or family or household member with the intent to do bodily harm and without justifiable or excusable cause is a felony. A dangerous weapon is an instrument that’s likely to produce death or great bodily harm in the manner it is used or attempted to be used. The maximum punishment in prison is ten years, and the maximum punishment in jail is one year.

Domestic Assault and Battery With a Deadly Weapon in Oklahoma

Shooting an intimate partner or a family or household member using a deadly weapon is a felony. A deadly weapon is one that’s that’s likely to produce death or great bodily injury. The maximum punishment in prison is life.

Domestic Abuse Committed Against a Pregnant Woman in Oklahoma

Domestic abuse committed against a pregnant woman with knowledge of the pregnancy is a misdemeanor. The maximum punishment in jail is one year.

A second or subsequent offense of domestic abuse against a pregnant woman with knowledge of the pregnancy is a felony. The maximum punishment in prison is ten years.  shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than ten (10) years.

Domestic abuse committed against a pregnant woman with knowledge of the pregnancy resulting in a miscarriage or injury to the unborn child is a felony. The minimum punishment in prison is 20 years.

Domestic Abuse Resulting in Great Bodily Injury in Oklahoma

Domestic abuse that results in great bodily injury to the victim is a felony. The maximum punishment in prison is ten years, and the maximum punishment in jail is one year.

“Great bodily injury” means bone fracture, protracted and obvious disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of a body part, organ or mental faculty, or substantial risk of death.

Domestic Abuse in the Presence of a Child in Oklahoma

Domestic abuse committed in the presence of a child is a misdemeanor. The range of punishment in jail is six months-one year. The maximum fine is $5,000. A second or subsequent offense is a felony. The range of punishment in prison is one-five years. The maximum fine is $7,000.

A conviction for assault and battery against an intimate partner or a family or household member constitutes a sufficient basis for a felony charge if that conviction is rendered in any:

  1. state, county, or parish court of record in Oklahoma or any other state; or
  2. municipal court of record of Oklahoma or any other state for which any jail time was served. No conviction in a municipal court of record entered prior to November 1, 1997, will constitute a prior conviction for purposes of a felony charge.

“In the presence of a child” means in the physical presence of a child; or having knowledge that a child is present and may see or hear an act of domestic violence. A “child” is any child whether he or she is related to the victim or the defendant.

Domestic Abuse by Strangulation in Oklahoma

Any assault and battery with intent to cause great bodily harm by strangulation or attempted strangulation against an intimate partner or a family or household member is a felony. The range of punishment in prison is one-three years. The maximum fine is $3,000. The range of punishment in prison for a second and subsequent offense is three-ten years. The maximum fine is $20,000.

“Strangulation” means any form of asphyxia. This includes, but is not limited to, asphyxia characterized by closure of the blood vessels or air passages of the neck as a result of external pressure on the neck or the closure of the nostrils or mouth as a result of external pressure on the head.

Domestic Abuse with Prior Pattern of Physical Abuse

It’s a felony to commit domestic abuse if you have a prior pattern of physical abuse. A prior pattern of physical abuse is defined as two or more separate incidences, including the current incident, occurring on different days. Each incident must relate to an act constituting assault and battery or domestic abuse committed by the defendant against a current or former spouse, a present spouse of a former spouse, parents, a foster parent, a child, a person otherwise related by blood or marriage, a person with whom the defendant is in a dating relationship, an individual with whom the defendant has had a child, a person who formerly lived in the same household as the defendant, a person living in the same household as the defendant, a current intimate partner or former intimate partner, or any combination of such people. Proof of each incident prior to the present incident is established by the sworn testimony of a third party who was a witness to the alleged physical abuse or by other admissible direct evidence that is independent of the testimony of the victim.

The maximum punishment in prison is ten years. The maximum fine is $5,000.

Sentence Conditions of Domestic Violence Crimes in Oklahoma

  1. Participation in counseling or treatment to bring about the cessation of domestic violence is a mandatory condition of probation.
  2. The defendant must complete an assessment and follow the recommendations of a batterers’ intervention program. If the defendant is ordered to participate in a batterers’ intervention program, the defendant has to attend the program for a minimum of 52 weeks, complete the program, and be evaluated before and after attendance of the program by program staff. Three unexcused absences in succession or seven unexcused absences in 52 weeks from any court-ordered batterers’ intervention program is enough to show a violation of the conditions of probation.
  3. A program for anger management, couples counseling, or family and marital counseling does not in itself qualify for the counseling or treatment requirement for domestic abuse. The counseling may be ordered in addition to counseling specifically for the treatment of domestic abuse or per an evaluation. If, after sufficient evaluation and attendance at required counseling sessions, the domestic violence treatment program or licensed professional determines that the defendant does not evaluate as a perpetrator of domestic violence or does evaluate as a perpetrator of domestic violence and should complete other programs of treatment simultaneously or prior to domestic violence treatment, the defendant will have to complete the counseling as per the recommendations of the domestic violence treatment program or licensed professional.

In the course of prosecuting any charge of domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, rape, or violation of a protective order, the prosecutor must provide the court, prior to sentencing or any plea agreement, a local history and any other available history of past convictions of the defendant within the last ten years relating to domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, rape, violation of a protective order, or any other violent misdemeanor or felony convictions.

A plea of guilty, plea of no contest, or finding of guilt for a violation of any domestic abuse crime constitutes a conviction of the offense for the purpose of enhancing the punishment of a domestic violence crime. It also constitutes a conviction for any other criminal statute under which the existence of a prior conviction is relevant. It will be considered a “conviction” for a period of ten years following the completion of probation. On some of the above crimes, the maximum time a conviction can be used against the defendant is ten years only if the defendant hasn’t been convicted of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or a felony in the meantime.

Domestic Violence Review Hearing

The court will set a review hearing no more than 120 days after the defendant is ordered to participate in a domestic abuse counseling program or undergo treatment for domestic abuse. This is to assure the attendance and compliance of the defendant with the law and the domestic abuse counseling or treatment requirements. The court may suspend sentencing of the defendant until the defendant has presented proof to the court of enrollment in a program of treatment for domestic abuse by an individual licensed practitioner or a domestic abuse treatment program and attendance at weekly sessions of that program. Proof must be presented to the court by the defendant no later than 120 days after the he or she is ordered to counseling or treatment.

There will be a second review hearing after the completion of the counseling or treatment to assure the attendance and compliance of the defendant with the provisions of the law and the domestic abuse counseling or treatment requirements.

The court may set subsequent or other review hearings as the court determines necessary to assure the defendant attends and fully complies with the provisions of the law and the domestic abuse counseling or treatment requirements.

The defendant must appear in court for the first review hearing. The court may accept a report on the progress of the defendant from individual counseling, domestic abuse counseling, or the treatment program at subsequent review hearings.

What if the Accuser Changes Their Mind?

Victims sometimes change their mind after some time and do not want charges to be pressed on the alleged abuser. Prosecutors generally have a “no dismiss” policy for domestic abuse cases. That means they will not dismiss a case of domestic violence even if the victim tells them that they do not want the defendant to be prosecuted.

However, the prosecutor will sometimes dismiss a domestic violence case despite a “no dismiss” policy. There are situations that would make it more or less likely that a prosecutor would dismiss a case. For instance, the least likely situation in which a prosecutor would dismiss a case based only upon the victim’s request is where a male defendant and a female victim are in a relationship. This is the typical domestic violence scenario. The thought is that the male abuser is threatening the female victim with more abuse if she doesn’t ask for the charges to be dropped. However, Oklahoma law considers many types of relationships to be sufficient for domestic violence charges when there was a violent act committed between those individuals. Under certain circumstances, the victim could be a former roommate, an uncle, a cousin, or a brother. Although the prosecutor will still be reluctant to dismiss a case in these instances, the case is more likely to get dismissed than if it were a male/female in a relationship scenario.

A way that charges can get dismissed is when the victim does not show up to testify in court. This happens because the victim is typically the primary witness, and the state needs evidence to be able to convict somebody. If there is no evidence, then the trial or hearing typically cannot be conducted. If the prosecutor continues with the hearing or trial without the victim, then the chances of a conviction typically decrease. However, expecting a dismissal because you think the victim won’t show is a risky strategy. First, the witness could show. Second, the trial or hearing could still continue because there is other evidence proving domestic abuse that can be brought in. Prosecutors frequently continue with the trial or hearing despite the victim not showing up. They do this by getting around hearsay and the confrontation clause. For instance, if a victim talks to a doctor for the purpose of seeking medical care for the injuries they sustain from the domestic violence situation, then what they told the doctor can be admissible even though the victim does not show up. Another way a victim’s statement can be entered into evidence without the victim having to appear in court is through a 911 call. That can be considered an excited utterance, which is an exception to hearsay. For instance, if the victim yells on the phone as soon as the 911 operator picks up, “Help, my boyfriend just hit me in the face!”, that could be considered an excited utterance, and it would likely be entered into evidence without the presence of a victim. Prosecutors will try to get around the Confrontation Clause by arguing that a statement is non-testimonial. Finally, there could be witnesses to the abuse besides the victim who could testify. It is important that you don’t prevent the victim from showing up at court or encourage them to not testify. That could be considered witness tampering or obstruction of justice, which are crimes. If a witness receives a subpoena to testify in court, they are required to obey the subpoena. Failure to comply with a subpoena could result in being held in contempt of court. Per 22 O.S. § 720, law enforcement may detain someone whom they have probable cause to believe is a necessary and material witness to a felony if the officer has probable cause to believe that person will refuse to appear in court. However, no person may be detained as a material witness to a crime who is a victim of such crime.

Will Someone Get Arrested If The Police Are Called To A Domestic Violence Scene?

Someone will typically get arrested if the police are called to a domestic violence scene. It’s even possible for the person calling the police to get arrested. People think that calling the police will help defuse the situation. It’s logical that many people are not familiar with the responsibility of law enforcement and the prosecutor in domestic violence situation. While it’s possible that the police can just defuse the situation and nobody will get arrested, that is highly unlikely. Officers are encouraged to arrest someone when a domestic abuse situation is reported. According to 22 O.S. § 60.16, a law enforcement officer may make a warrantless arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe the person has committed an act of domestic abuse within the preceding 72 hours—even if the assault did not take place in the presence of the officer. An officer may not arrest someone without first observing a recent physical injury to, or an impairment of the physical condition of, the alleged victim. The first event after a domestic abuse arrest is a trip to jail. The arrestee will be booked, processed, fingerprinted, and photographed. Their bail will initially be set, and they will be afforded the opportunity to call someone for help.

Making Bail After a Domestic Violence Arrest

If you’re arrested for domestic abuse, a bail amount will eventually be set. Whether you are arrested or not, your bond will typically be initially set at “no bond.” You will find out the exact bond amount when you go in front of the judge for arraignment. There is a 72-hour “cool down” period after someone is arrested for a domestic abuse charges. That means that the arrestee will not be released from jail until 72 hours has passed from the time of arrest.

Contact With the Victim After a Domestic Violence Arrest

You will not always be prevented from having contact with your spouse or children after a domestic abuse case. A domestic abuse charge, by itself, does not carry any requirement that the accused not contact the complaining witness (aka the “victim”). However, what happens many times in a domestic abuse situation is that the victim will file a Victim Protective Order (VPO). A VPO is what’s used to prevent someone from contacting the victim. If you have a VPO on you, then you need to read the order thoroughly and obey every word of it. Violation of the VPO is a crime.

A judge may also impose a no contact order. If that happens, then you may not have any contact with the “victim” until the judge withdraws the order. Sometimes the victim doesn’t want a no contact order. In those situations, they often show up to court and personally ask the judge to lift the no contact order.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) can get involved if there was an allegation of injury to a child. Domestic abuse can also occur when the victim is a child. If DHS finds out about the abuse, then they may initiate deprived child proceedings. The child could be removed from home due to the violence committed by an individual living in the home and/or a failure to protect by the other parent/relative/other individual living in the household.

Sources: 22 O.S. §§ 60.1, 720, & 60.16 and 21 O.S. §§ 641, 642, 644, 646, & 644.1

Current as of November 1, 2019. Last updated July 24, 2019.

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