In many states, misdemeanors are divided into categories based on the severity of the underlying crime. For example, Class 1 for the most serious misdemeanor offenses and Class 2 and 3 for less serious offenses.
In Oklahoma, however, no such distinction is made among misdemeanor crimes, and all misdemeanors are subject to a maximum of a year in jail and a $500 fine, or any combination of the two.
Read further to learn how misdemeanors are processed in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, a misdemeanor can be prosecuted in a state or municipal court. In either case, the process often begins prior to your arrest before you’ve even been charged with a criminal offense.
In this phase of the process, known as pre-arrest investigation, the authorities will gather information regarding the case and, many times, seek to get a statement from you to determine if there is actually enough cause to move forward with the charges against you. If it is subsequently concluded that there is enough cause, a warrant then will be issued for your arrest.
In cases where there is no pre-trial investigation, your case will commence once you are arrested and booked. At this time, you will be physically taken into custody, photographed, fingerprinted, and placed inside a cell.
Alternatively, depending on the nature of the charge against you, you may be released and given a date to reappear for your arraignment.
Certain crimes, such as shoplifting, will typically not require the police to take you into custody, and you might be issued a ticket and released along with a date to return to court for your arraignment.
The arraignment will be the first occasion to appear before a judge. At this stage, you will appear in court before the judge who will explain the charges against you and set your bail, in the event it hasn’t already been set. You’ll typically enter a plea of not guilty and be supplied with a date to reappear in court.
In the event you have retained a defense attorney before your arraignment, your attorney can appear in court to respond to the charges on your behalf, with no need for you to attend.
Once you’ve been arraigned, your attorney is allowed to make a discovery request to obtain all of the information the prosecution has compiled in support of the charges against you. This includes all discoverable information, including the police reports and any witness testimony that has been obtained.
As soon as your attorney receives this information, they will have a better understanding of the strength of the prosecutor’s case against you and will be able to organize your defense accordingly.
Jury Trial Sounding (JTS) Docket or Conference Docket
The next phase in the Oklahoma misdemeanor process is the Jury Trial Sounding (JTS) Docket or Conference Docket. During this phase, your defense attorney and the prosecutor will commence negotiations to settle the case by way of a plea bargain, wherein you will be given the choice to plead guilty to the charges against you in exchange for a reduction in the charges against you or the sentence you will receive. Many misdemeanor cases are settled at this point with no need for a trial. However, if no plea bargain is decided, the case will proceed to the discovery hearing.
During the discovery hearing, which must transpire 10 days ahead of the jury trial, the prosecution and your defense attorney must disclose whether or not they have indeed exchanged discovery, including all police reports, witness testimony, and recorded evidence.
Ten days after your discovery hearing, you will be tried before a jury of six citizens (versus 12 for a felony case) who must all agree on a verdict.
Anyone charged with a criminal offense has the constitutional right to:
- be tried before a jury,
- be represented by an attorney, and
- be presumed innocent before being found guilty.
In addition, you have the right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against you in court. The prosecution then has the burden of needing to prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
If the jury returns a verdict of guilty, your trial will proceed to sentencing, where the judge will pronounce the sentence you must complete for the crime of which you have been convicted. On the other hand, if you are found not guilty, you will be free to go.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Attorney
Although the misdemeanor judicial process in Tahlequah, Oklahoma is less involved than for felony offenses, and although you face a lighter punishment if convicted, you should never take a misdemeanor charge lightly.
For a free consultation with a Tahlequah criminal defense attorney, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, as always, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page.