If you made a mistake and wish to find a way to avoid trial and a potentially lengthy jail sentence, you do have a myriad of options available to you in Oklahoma state court. These options can take the form of pretrial diversion or a plea offer.
Pretrial diversion is a court intervention plan. The prosecutor organizes and oversees the various diversion programs. In order to participate in diversion, the prosecutor must first screen you for a program. Each diversion program has different eligibility requirements. Often, the prosecutor will extend a diversion offer if you are a first-time offender, are under arrest for a non-violent crime, have a history of mental illness or have a drug addiction.
The most popular form of diversion is the deferred prosecution agreement. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the prosecutor enters into a contract with you that states that you must complete certain tasks, and in return, the prosecutor will drop the charges against you and close the case. The most common type of task is community service. You must to perform a specific number of community service hours within a certain period of time, usually a few months. You may also have to stay away from the complainant (if any) and avoid any re-arrests. Once you provide proof of satisfaction of the requirements, the prosecutor will file a nolle prosequi with the court, the Latin legalese for dismissal of charges. If you fail to complete this form of diversion, the offer will rescind, and your case will proceed on the trial calendar.
The second most popular form of diversion is the deferred sentencing agreement. The deferred sentencing agreement can be risky for defendants who worry about being able to complete the requirements in time because this type of diversion requires the defendant to enter into a guilty plea. If this form is offered to the defendant and the defendant accepts, at the next Oklahoma court hearing, the defendant will announce he or she is entering into a deferred sentencing agreement. The judge will then conduct a plea colloquy and accept the defendant’s plea of guilty.
However, a conviction does not enter on the record. Rather, the defendant is given certain tasks, like with deferred prosecution, to complete over several months. In addition to community service hours, the defendant may have to pay restitution. If the defendant successfully completes the conditions, the defendant can withdraw his guilty plea. The prosecutor will then file a nolle prosequi and dismiss the case. If the defendant fails, however, the guilty plea goes into effect immediately, and the defendant then has a conviction on his or her record. The judge will proceed to sentencing at the next court hearing.
The stet docket is a special docket where cases sit in inactive status for a certain period of time. If the defendant abides by certain conditions, the case is then dismissed. The stet docket is for crimes such as unlawful entry. Conditions include staying away from a certain place or person or avoiding re-arrest. If you fail to satisfy the conditions, it will place your case back on the trial calendar.
Mediation is an option available in cases where the complainant is willing to come to a compromise with the defendant. Mediation is rarely available. And it is most often in cases involving complainants who are close family members or friends that wish to reconcile and drop the charges.
Finally, you may be eligible for drug court diversion or mental health court diversion. These are two special programs for individuals with drug addiction or mental illness. The court provides supervised substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment. The defendant must first be eligible for the program. This is determined by the prosecutor. Eligibility conditions may include positive drug tests, mental illness diagnosis, and a non-violent crime.
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