The change moves Oklahoma from one of the harshest states for drug possession to likely the most lenient for drug possession. Generally, the law just prior to SQ 780 going into effect was as follows:
- Felony to be caught with any Schedule I or II substance except marijuana
- Felony to be caught a second or subsequent time with marijuana or any Schedule II, IV, or V substance
- Felony to be caught with any controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school and a bunch of other places
- Felony to be caught with any controlled substance with a child under 12 present
All of those qualifiers are now GONE! It’s very simple now–it’s all a misdemeanor. The change is radical, but it’s what Oklahoma needs. Oklahoma has the second highest incarceration rate in the country, and has the highest incarceration rate for women.
We are sick and tired of our prisons being filled with people who don’t belong there. Meddling politicians tried to change the law in 2017 before it was even implemented, but thankfully those bills died. Power to the people!!!
Unfortunately, the law is not retroactive. So, people arrested for simple drug possession through June will be charged under the old version of the statute even though they were charged after the new version went into effect.
If you have been arrested for drug possession in Oklahoma …
Text of SQ 780 – https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/780.pdf
In November 2016, voters in Oklahoma resoundingly said they’re fed up with the way drug crimes are prosecuted. State Question 780 modified the drug possession statute. It made every simple possession of drugs a misdemeanor. It won’t matter where you had the drugs, what kind of drug it was, or how many times you’ve been arrested for drug possession–it will always be a misdemeanor. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2017, and 58% of voters approved it
Now, our legislature is trying to undo SQ 780. The most likely legislative change will be to make it a felony to possess drugs within a certain distance of a handful of areas. This will turn about half of Oklahoma into a felony drug possession area. Oh, and you will have to serve 90% of your prison sentence.
HOWEVER–our out-of-touch legislators won’t have to wait until their meddling goes into effect. An obscure Oklahoma law CURRENTLY makes it a felony to possess a controlled dangerous substance without “affixing the appropriate stamp.” This is not a joke. So, come July, when prosecutors can’t use the usual drug possession statute anymore to charge people with felonies, they will be using 68 OS § 450.8 to convict people of not possessing a tax stamp. Of course, nobody will have a tax stamp, so any simple possession of drugs can also be a violation of this statute.
This is beyond outrageous. I love how people are out there now telling the voters that they were too stupid to know what they were voting for. I know exactly what I voted for, as did many people I talked with. The ink isn’t even dry on this statute, and everyone is trying to find a way to nullify it. Our prisons are overcrowded. Lives are ruined early on due to felony drug charges. The people who voted for SQ 780 see the effects of Oklahoma’s harsh drug laws first-hand. The people who are trying to change this law supposedly represent the community. Unfortunately, they don’t see things from the perspective of people who experience how broken the system is. Let’s see how this new law plays out before attempting to change it.
If you’ve been arrested for drug possession, then call The Urbanic Law Firm!
- Driving with your fog lamps on when it’s not foggy. 47 O.S. § 12-217 states that fog lamps can only be used when visibility is 1/2 mile or less. Better play it safe and just don’t turn them on at all within our borders.
- Not signaling a lane change early enough. 47 O.S. § 11-309 states that a driver must signal a lane change at least 100 ft prior to changing lanes. How long is that when you’re driving? Who knows. Just put on that blinker a long time before you turn the wheel.
- Not signaling a right or left turn early enough. 47 O.S. § 11-604 states that a driver must signal a right or left turn at least 100 ft prior to turning. Again, signal way before you think you need to turn.
- Following too closely. 47 O.S. § 11-310 states, “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” What the hell does that mean?? It means that a cop can pull you over for any distance he or she deems is “too close.” So stay as far behind every other vehicle as possible.
- License plate insufficiently lit. 47 O.S. § 12-204.1 states that a license plate must be lit to where it is legible at 50 ft. You also can’t have more than two lights illuminating the plate. And the lights have to be white.
- Third brake light not working. 47 O.S. § 12-206 states that the third (middle) brake light must be operational if your vehicle is equipped with one.
- Driving in the left lane without passing somebody. 47 OS §11-309 states that you can’t impede the normal flow of traffic by driving in the left lane. 47 OS §11-301 states that you need to drive in the right hand lane if you’re driving at less than the normal speed of traffic. Translation: Don’t clog up the left lane, and move right if you’re slow. Actually, this is not a ridiculous law. You should be arrested if you’re driving slow in the fast lane!
- Driving with a cracked windshield. 47 O.S. § 12-404 says what types of windshield cracks are unacceptable. It’s illegal to have any outright breakage in the windshield or in the window on either side of the driver; have any star break or shot damage, 3″ or more in diameter, located in the critical area; or have two or more stress or hairline cracks, 12″ or more in combined length, located in the critical area. The critical area is the area cleaned by the normal sweep of the windshield wiper blade on the driver’s side. This law also says that it’s illegal to drive a motor vehicle with any sign, poster, other nontransparent material, or debris (including but not limited to snow, ice, or frost) on the front windshield or the side wings, or side or rear windows. You also can’t suspend any sign, poster, object, or other material from the interior of the vehicle that materially obstructs, obscures, or impairs the driver’s clear view of the highway ahead or to either side or of any intersecting highway.
I’ve seen people pulled over for many of the above reasons. Oklahoma cops ARE looking for those things, and they WILL pull you over!
And, of course, there are the more obvious reasons to pull you over:
- Expired tag
- Not wearing a seat belt
- Broken taillight/headlight
- Not obeying street signs (47 O.S. § 11-201)
- Marijuana smoke billowing out of your vehicle
So, if you’re going to be driving on Oklahoma roads and don’t want to get stopped, just follow a few simple instructions. Inspect your car prior to leaving. Make sure all lights work. While you’re doing that, check to make sure your tag isn’t expired. Signal way before you turn or change lanes. Don’t go one mile over the speed limit. Wear a seat belt. Stay far behind other vehicles. And NEVER, EVER, EVER use your fog lamps.
Have I left out any ridiculous reasons people get pulled over for in Oklahoma? Let me know!
Have you been pulled over for something ridiculous? Or something not ridiculous?
Call The Urbanic Law Firm!
- 47 OS § 12-217 – http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=82397
- 47 OS § 11-309 – http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=82287
- 47 OS § 11-604 – http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=82308
- 47 OS § 11-310 – http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=82288
- 47 OS § 12-204.1 – http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=437577
- 47 OS § 12-206 – http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=82386
- 47 OS §11-301 – http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=82277
This post summarizes each new Oklahoma law relating to criminal justice that went into effect in 2016. When I originally started this endeavor, I thought I would be making a handful of posts. I ended up making 22 posts. I’m confident that my site has the most comprehensive analysis of Oklahoma criminal laws that went into effect in 2016.
Hopefully, you found this interesting. My goal is to do this each year. I’ll start earlier in 2017 so that the posts are closer to the day the governor signed the bills.
If you’re been arrested in Oklahoma … Don’t panic! Call Urbanic.
SB 1159 legalized the carrying of any dagger, bowie knife, dirk knife, or sword cane. A bill that went into effect in 2015 legalized the carrying of switchblades.
Convicted felons cannot carry firearms, so this law will be useful in allowing them to carry something for self-defense. It also decriminalizes behavior that many people were doing anyway. It’s a good way to allow law enforcement resources to be directed towards more important things.
This is my FINAL post on new Oklahoma laws in 2016! When I first started this project, I thought I would be doing a handful of posts. I had no idea this would result in 22 posts! In the next post, I’ll be posting a summary of each new law.
This law went into effect on November 1, 2016 and amended 21 OS § 1272.
News article covering SB 1159 – http://www.newson6.com/story/33683460/knife-law-adds-sword-canes-to-list-of-items-oklahomans-can-legally-carry
If you’ve been charged with illegally carrying a weapon in Oklahoma, contact The Urbanic Law Firm!
HB 3119 grants drug courts authority to waive remaining fees, court costs, and fines, upon successful completion of drug court if the court believes that continued payment would create a financial hardship for the offender. The court can also now waive any requirement that fines and costs be satisfied by a person prior to that person being eligible for a provisional driver license.
This law went into effect November 1, 2016 and amends 22 OS §§ 471.6 and 471.9.
If you are interested in getting into a drug court in Oklahoma, contact The Urbanic Law Firm.
HB 3160 gives trial courts the authority to waive fines, court costs, and fees of individuals who have been released from the Department of Corrections. The defendant must have made 24 months of timely payments every month following release and must have complied with all probation or supervision requirements following release. This waiver does not apply to restitution or child support.
Any person released from the Department of Corrections is to report within 180 days to the district court of the county from which the judgment and sentence resulting in incarceration arose and all other district courts or municipal courts where the person owes fines, fees, costs and assessments. A hearing will be held to determine the ability of the person to pay fines, fees, costs or assessments owed by the person in every felony or misdemeanor criminal case filed in a district court or criminal case filed in a municipal court.
This is great for people getting released from prison. Many will have a very hard time paying the enormous court costs and fees. Failure to pay these results in a probation violation and likely return to prison. Hopefully, this law will allow people to spend the money they earn on things like food and housing and reduce the likelihood they will return to prison.
This law went into effect November 1, 2016 and created 22 OS §§ 983a & 983b.
If you have just been released from prison and would like help with reducing your court costs and fines, then contact The Urbanic Law Firm.
In all instances of sexual assault including, but not limited to, rape, rape by instrumentation and forcible sodomy where force is alleged, the term “force” shall mean any force, no matter how slight, necessary to accomplish the act without the consent of the victim. The force necessary to constitute an element need not be actual physical force since fear, fright or coercion may take the place of actual physical force.
The term “sexual assault” is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the recipient including, but not limited to, forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, child sexual abuse, incest, fondling and all attempts to complete any of the aforementioned acts.
The term “consent” means the affirmative, unambiguous and voluntary agreement to engage in a specific sexual activity during a sexual encounter which can be revoked at any time. Consent cannot be:
1. Given by an individual who: (a) is asleep or is mentally or physically incapacitated either through the effect of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason, or (b) is under duress, threat, coercion or force; or
2. Inferred under circumstances in which consent is not clear including, but not limited to: (a) the absence of an individual saying “no” or “stop”, or (b) the existence of a prior or current relationship or sexual activity.
This law went into effect June 6, 2016.
If you have been accused of committing a sex crime then, The Urbanic Law Firm can help you.
SB 1214 abolishes the traditional insanity acquittal and authorizes new verdicts of “guilty with mental defect” or “not guilty by reason of mental illness.”
A defendant found “guilty with mental defect” is subject to ordinary punishment, including probation, if authorized. A defendant found “not guilty by reason of mental illness” shall not be released until the court has determined that the defendant is not presently dangerous and a person requiring treatment. The court must immediately order a mental health evaluation in both scenarios.
“Guilty with mental defect” means the person committed the act and was either unable to understand the nature and consequences of his or her actions or was unable to differentiate right from wrong, and has been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder which substantially contributed to the act for which the person has been charged.
“Mental defect” means the person has been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder which substantially contributed to the act for which the person has been charged.
“Mental illness” means a substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, psychological orientation or memory that significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.
This law went into effect November 1, 2016 and modifies 22 OS § 1161.
If you know someone who is accused of committing a crime and potentially has mental issues then contact The Urbanic Law Firm.
HB 2753 modifies 22 OS § 471.2 and 22 OS § 988.2 to expand drug court and community sentencing eligibility to include persons recommended for drug court after a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Assessment and Evaluation.
The following are now the basic requirements to enter drug court in Oklahoma:
1. The offender’s arrest or charge does not involve a crime of violence against any person, unless there is a specific treatment program in the jurisdiction designed to address domestic violence and the offense is related to domestic violence and substance abuse;
2. The offender has no prior felony conviction in this state or another state for a violent offense within the last ten (10) years, except as may be allowed in a domestic violence treatment program authorized by the drug court program. It shall be sufficient for this paragraph that a criminal history records name search was conducted and indicated no apparent violent offense;
3. The offender’s arrest or charge does not involve a violation of the Trafficking In Illegal Drugs Act;
4. The offender has committed a felony offense; and
5. The offender:
a. admits to having a substance abuse addiction,
b. appears to have a substance abuse addiction,
c. is known to have a substance abuse addiction,
d. the arrest or charge is based upon an offense eligible for the drug court program, or
f. is a person who has had an assessment authorized by Section 3-704 of Title 43A of the Oklahoma Statutes and the assessment recommends the drug court program.
Note that a felony offense is required to be eligible for drug court. In July 2017, all simple possession drug charges become misdemeanors–regardless of drug and regardless of how many times someone has been arrested for drug possession.
Now, a way to become eligible for community sentencing is to have an assessment authorized by Section 3-704 of Title 43A of the Oklahoma Statutes with the assessment recommending the drug court program.
This bill also modified 22 OS § 471.1 to imply that drug court need not be in lieu of incarceration.
This law went into effect November 1, 2016.