Community sentencing is a punishment that may be added as a condition of probation for a deferred or suspended sentence. Succinctly, it’s very intense probation. The statutes that cover Community Sentencing are 22 O.S. §§ 988.1–990.1. You are eligible for Community Sentencing if you:
- Entered a plea other than not guilty to a felony offense;
- Completed a Level of Services Inventory or another assessment instrument and have been found to be in a range other than the low range;
- Have been convicted of at least one prior felony; and
- Are not otherwise prohibited by law,
or had an assessment authorized by Section 3-704 of Title 43A of the Oklahoma Statutes and the assessment recommends community sentencing. This is sometimes referred to as an “offender screening.” Provided, however, no person who has been convicted of or who has entered a plea other than not guilty to an offense enumerated in 57 O.S. § 571(2) (“violent crimes”) is eligible for a community sentence or community punishment unless the prosecutor consents to it.
The following services are available to offenders participating in community sentencing:
- Community service with or without compensation to the offender;
- Substance abuse treatment and availability for periodic drug testing of offenders following treatment;
- Varying levels of supervision by the Department of Corrections probation officers or another qualified supervision source;
- Education and literacy provided by the State Department of Education, the county library system, the local school board, or another qualified source;
- Employment opportunities and job skills training provided by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education or another qualified source;
- Enforced collections provided by the local court clerk or another state agency; and
- The availability of county jail or another restrictive housing facility for limited disciplinary sanctions.
The court may revoke or accelerate a community punishment to the original sentence imposed during the term of the sentence. When a community sentence is revoked to state imprisonment, the court will give a day-for-day credit for any term of incarceration actually served as the community punishment.
What is a Level of Services Inventory (LSI)?
A Level of Services Inventory (LSI) is an evaluation that may be conducted to determine a defendant’s eligibility for community sentencing. Another type of assessment may be conducted so long as it is designed to predict risk to recidivate and is approved by the Department of Corrections. The completed assessment accompanied by a written supervision plan must be presented to and reviewed by the court prior to determining any punishment for the offense. The purpose of the assessment is to identify the extent of the deficiencies and pro-social needs of the defendant, the potential risk to commit additional offenses that threaten public safety, and the appropriateness of various community punishments.
If it’s determined that an offender can’t be adequately evaluated using the LSI or another approved assessment, the offender will be deemed ineligible for any community services pursuant to the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Act, and they will be sentenced as prescribed by law for the offense. The willful failure or refusal of the defendant to be assessed and evaluated by using the LSI or another approved assessment precludes the defendant from eligibility for any community punishment.
The completed LSI, or other approved assessment, will include a written supervision plan and identify an appropriate community punishment if any, when the offender is considered eligible for community punishments based upon the completed risk/need score from the LSI assessment of the offender. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, only offenders scoring in a range other than the low range on the LSI assessment and having at least one prior felony conviction are eligible for community sentencing.
The court is not required to sentence any offender to a community punishment regardless of an eligible score on the LSI. Any felony offender scoring in the low risk/need levels on the LSI may be sentenced to a suspended sentence with minimal, if any, conditions of the sentence to be paid by the offender. If the LSI or another assessment has been conducted, the evaluation report accompanies the judgment and sentence.
For more information on Community Sentencing In Oklahoma, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Call (405) 633-3420 to speak with an attorney.