Has Your Loved One Been Arrested And Charged With A Drug Offense In Oklahoma? Here Is What To Expect
When your loved one has been arrested for a drug offense in Oklahoma, it can be extremely worrying — especially if you are miles away, living out of state on the West or East Coasts or in Texas.
We understand that you desperately want to know what will happen to them and what they might face in the months and years to come.
A Breakdown Of The Process
Here is a breakdown of the general stages of a criminal drug case — beginning from the initial arrest to the sentencing phase.
There are many situations that could’ve surrounded the arrest of your loved one. Officers may have obtained an arrest warrant from a judge, or may have carried out the arrest under circumstances that did not require an arrest warrant under the law.
Once your loved one was arrested and in custody, authorities are required to read them what’s referred to as Miranda rights, before they can begin the interrogation and questioning.
Booking, Arraignment And Bail
After the arrest, authorities complete the “booking” process, a procedure where police take photographs and fingerprints and collect any personal belongings temporarily until release.
After that, individuals attend a court hearing, known as an arraignment, where they enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges.
At the hearing, a judge will also determine whether he or she is eligible for bail, examining factors such as the nature of the charges and the likelihood of the accused reappearing for trial.
If your loved one is eligible for release on bond, a judge may impose a high bond amount (if the crime in question is significant) or forgo bond entirely and allow the release based on “personal recognizance” (if the offense is minor).
Bonds for serious drug charges (Possession with Intent or Trafficking) are routinely set at $50,000 – $200,000 in some counties, but each case will vary depending on the facts.
Preliminary Hearing Conference (Felonies Only)
The purpose of the Preliminary Hearing Conference is for your attorney to sit down with the prosecutor; discuss the facts, merits, and circumstances of the case; and possibly reach a resolution. At the time of the PHC, the accused must appear in court. Most felony cases have multiple PHC’s.
PRELIMINARY HEARING (FELONY ONLY)
The purpose of the preliminary hearing is for the Special Judge to determine whether the defendant should be “bound over” for trial on the State’s charges. During this hearing, the State has the burden to show whether:
- A crime has been committed, AND
- Probable cause exists that the defendant committed the crime
Your attorney will be given the opportunity to demurrer (challenge the sufficiency of the evidence) and argue issues such as evidence and testimony unlawfully obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.
After preliminary matters are complete, both the prosecutor and the suspect’s defense lawyer prepare for trial. Both will file what’s known as pre-trial motions or arguments in favor of dismissing certain evidence or excluding certain testimony.
Common types of motions include:
- A defense lawyer’s motion to exclude certain evidence because it was obtained during an illegal search and seizure. (Motion to Suppress)
- A defense lawyer’s motion to exclude a confession or statement made during questioning due to an officer’s failure to properly read Miranda rights.
- A defense lawyer’s motion to dismiss a case because of a lack of evidence.
Whether motions are granted or denied will ultimately be up to the judge who will make the decision based on the facts, rules of evidence and other criteria.
If a case proceeds to trial, the prosecutor has the burden to prove to a judge or jury that your loved one is guilty of committing the crime he or she is accused of beyond a reasonable doubt. Opening and closing statements are made and witnesses are called to testify.
Once the trial is complete, deliberations are conducted. If a jury is involved, they are provided a set of instructions to follow. They must reach a unanimous verdict. If they are unable to, the judge will declare a mistrial. If they return a unanimous guilty verdict, a sentence is imposed.
The defendant’s sentence is handed down by the judge overseeing the trial who will examine certain factors when making the decision. The defendant’s criminal history, the nature and severity of the crime, any remorse expressed and other factors are considered.
The Importance Of A Criminal Defense Attorney
These above are the general stages of a criminal case — but many cases get stopped in their tracks long before a sentence is imposed — all because of the help and advocacy of a defense lawyer. Police make mistakes, illegal procedures are followed and constitutional rights are often violated. All of these can easily thwart the continuance of a case.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney who understands these rights is important to protecting the rights and overreach of authorities.
Representing individuals facing charges in Norman, Oklahoma, and all throughout the state of Oklahoma.