Domestic violence crimes in Oklahoma are crimes of assault or assault and battery committed against a victim who is a:
- current or former spouse of the offender
- spouse of the offender’s former spouse
- family member of the offender (by blood or marriage)
- foster parent of the offender
- person the offender is dating or dated in the past
- person the offender lives with or lived with previously, or
- person with whom the offender has a child.
In Oklahoma, assault and battery are two separate crimes but also can be charged as the single crime of “assault and battery.” An offender is guilty of “assault and battery” when the act of assault culminates in a battery.
Assault occurs when a person threatens or attempts to cause physical harm to another person. (Okla.Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §641.) The threat must involve physical action like drawing a fist or charging toward a victim. Words alone are not enough.
A battery is the intentional use of force against another person that causes harm or offense to the victim. Striking a person with a fist and spitting on another both are acts that constitute battery. (Okla.Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §642.)
Threatening to hit a person is an assault. If the offender actually strikes the victim after making the threat, the offender can be charged with assault and battery as one crime.
The crime of domestic abuse is an assault and battery against one of the victims listed above. If the crime is a first offense, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine up to $5,000, or both. If a conviction for domestic abuse is the offender’s second or subsequent conviction for this crime, it is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison or a fine up to $5000, or both.
Domestic abuse with a prior pattern of physical abuse
If a defendant commits the crime of domestic abuse and the prosecution can prove he has a “prior pattern of physical abuse,” the crime will be a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison or a fine up to $5,000, or both. (Okla.Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §644.1.) The evidence must show that the defendant committed physical abuse against a domestic victim as listed above in three different instances within six months of the date of the incident for which he has been charged. The previous incidents need not have resulted in arrests or convictions, but the evidence of the prior acts must be something other than testimony from the victim in the case in which the defendant is charged.
Domestic abuse committed in the presence of a child
If the crime of domestic abuse is committed in the presence of a child, the penalty is more serious. For a first offense, the offender faces a minimum sentence of six months in jail and a maximum of one year or a fine up to $5,000, or both. If the offense is a second or subsequent conviction for this crime, the offense is a felony punishable by a minimum sentence of one year in prison up to a maximum of five years in prison, or a fine up to $7,000, or both.
Domestic abuse committed against a pregnant woman
If the crime of domestic abuse is committed against a pregnant woman and the offender knew of the pregnancy, the penalties can be extremely harsh. For a first offense, the crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. If the offense is a second or subsequent conviction, the crime is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. If the mother miscarries as a result of the domestic abuse, however, or there is any injury to the unborn child, the crime is a felony for which the offender can be sentenced up to twenty years in prison.
Domestic abuse resulting in great bodily harm
If a crime of domestic abuse results in great bodily harm to the victim, the offense is a felony punishable by up to one year in jail or up to ten years in prison. Great bodily harm is more serious than a scrape or bruise and consists of significant injury, such as a broken bone, visible disfigurement like a large scar on a person’s face, a serious head injury, or loss of function in some part of the body – a leg or hand or bodily organ.
Domestic abuse by strangulation
If a defendant commits assault and battery by strangulation or attempted strangulation against a domestic victim listed above, with intent to cause great bodily harm, he is guilty of a felony. A first offense of this crime is punishable by one to three years in prison or a fine up to $3,000, or both. The penalty for a second or subsequent offense is three to ten years in prison or a fine up to $20,000, or both.
Domestic Assault or Domestic Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon
Domestic assault and domestic assault and battery committed with a dangerous weapon is committed when an offender commits assault or assault and battery
- against a victim identified in Oklahoma’s domestic violence law
- with intent to cause great bodily harm, and
- with a dangerous weapon.
A dangerous weapon often is referred to as a deadly weapon. An object constitutes a dangerous or deadly weapon if it is designed to inflict life threatening or great bodily injury or is used in a manner that could produce such injury. Firearms and knives are deadly weapons by definition, but a large rock, steel toed boots and a baseball bat also are deadly weapons because they are not deadly by definition but could be used in a manner that would cause serious harm.
Domestic assault or domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is a felony punishable by up to one year in jail or up to ten years in prison. However, if the weapon is a firearm and the offender actually shoots the victim, the penalty is up to life in prison.
Sentencing and Probation
A court in Oklahoma can impose a deferred or suspended sentence for domestic violence crimes.
The court can defer the proceedings in a criminal case for up to ten years without entering a judgment of guilt and later dismiss the case if the defendant complies with certain conditions, which can include probation, community service, or even serving a period of time in jail or prison. This sentence is less likely for a felony domestic violence crime, but is possible if the defendant has no criminal history or there were extenuating circumstances. A person on supervised probation must meet with a probation officer and comply with conditions of probation such as treatment, maintaining employment, and avoiding any further criminal activity or arrests.
A court also can suspend all or part of a prison sentence and allow the defendant to serve all or part of the sentence on supervised or unsupervised probation so long as the defendant complies with the conditions of probation. The court can impose probation for up to two years or for as long as the maximum possible sentence in the case.
If the court imposes a deferred or suspended sentence in a domestic violence case, the defendant must be required to attend domestic violence counseling or other treatment.
The Value of Good Representation
A conviction for a domestic violence crime can become part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A convicted felon loses the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror (for seven years) and carry or own firearms. In certain circumstances, a felony conviction also can result in loss of a professional license. A conviction for a violent felony can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment.
Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.