Will legalizing marijuana help elevate the opioid crisis? In theory yes, but the research comes to a less clear conclusion.
Video Conferencing in the Courtroom
The Oklahoma Legislature has recently taken a big step, with a new statute that allows videoconferencing technology to be used in the Oklahoma District Courts for hearings up to, during, and after trial in both civil and criminal cases. Prior to this, it was unlawful for videoconferencing to be used in the District Courts of Oklahoma. There are several minimum requirements; here are a few:
Everyone who is directly involved, i.e. the attorneys, witnesses, judge, defendant, court reporter, and interpreter, can see and be seen and hear and be heard.
Participants shall be able to see, hear, and communicate with each other simultaneously;
Participants shall be able to see, hear, and otherwise observe any physical evidence or exhibit presented;
Video and sound quality shall be adequate to allow participants to observe demeanor and nonverbal communications and to clearly hear what is taking place to the same extent as if they were present in the courtroom;
The location from which the trial judge is presiding shall be accessible to the public to the same extent as the proceeding would be if not conducted by videoconference;
When feasible, a party and the party's attorney should be allowed to communicate privately off the record by use of a private communication facility (cellphone, landline, facsimile, Skype, etc.) during the proceeding, or during a break. The court is not required to provide a private communication facility if none is available.
There are also some exceptions; here they are:
Situations where its use might create undue prejudice;
When a person is available, but simply does not wish to be in the courtroom;
Convenience vs the Value of the Testimony;
Whether its use would interfere with the full ability to cross-examine a witness;
In a circumstance where the gravity of being in the actual courtroom will impress upon the witness the importance of telling the truth;
Whether a physical liberty or other fundamental interest is at stake in the proceeding;
Whether the judge is comfortable with his or her ability to effectively control what is happening at the remote location;
Whether a distortion in the technology causes those present in the courtroom to reflect negatively upon the person at the remote location;
Whether use of the videoconferencing technology will diminish the integrity and fairness of a proceeding in a particular instance;
Whether the person proposed to appear by videoconferencing presents a significant security risk to transport and present personally in the courtroom;
The necessity of waivers and stipulations between the parties regarding the use of videoconferencing during a proceeding;
And anything else that the judge might think is relevant.
The party that wishes to use videoconferencing technology for the purpose of witness testimony must submit a motion stating their intent at least thirty (30) days prior to the proceeding. Any party that objects to this must submit their objection in writing within ten (10) days of the filing of the original notice.
So, what are the advantages of using this new technology in the courtroom? The cost benefit is particularly relevant to those needing an interpreter or court reporter where none is available to be physically present, and the time, effort, and finances that would be required to get someone to be physically present would be restrictive. This is particularly true of poorly served and rural areas that lack the same resources as larger metropolitan areas.
However, there is no rule stating that courts must employ this new technology, and since the initial cost to install the equipment and training would presumably be substantial, it is likely that the areas that are poorly served now, will not be able to afford the equipment that is necessary to meet the requirements set out in the statute. Furthermore, the statute does not specify who is supposed to pay for the installation and maintenance of the equipment. Is it the County Treasury? Is it the State? Is it the Court Fund?
So, when would the videoconferencing technology be most valuable? Obviously, when used for expert witness testimony. The ability to bring in the testimony of a nationally, or even internationally, renowned expert without having to pay travel costs would be an enormous cost savings for either side of a litigation. As mentioned above, the ability to bring in an interpreter for unique and specific languages and dialects, would also provide witnesses and defendants the ability to understand and be understood. This is not just important, but a Constitutional right.
What about the risks? Clearly, it is difficult to tell when someone is lying. Most people find it difficult to tell when they are face to face with someone. Seeing and hearing them over a video screen will only make that more difficult. Considering that a big part of a jury’s job is to determine the credibility and reliability of each witness, this knew technology leap could get in the way of justice. The level of personal separation videoconferencing technology provides has the potential to reduce the impact and gravity of the proceedings, creating an insulation or barrier to the stress and impact of a tough and vigorous cross-examination, harming the truth-finding process of witness confrontation. Furthermore, there are no security measures in place that would ensure that the remote location remains pristine and free from influence or bias that could taint witness testimony. It is feasible that a person could stand out of view of the camera and coaches a witness without the court’s knowledge.
Technology has invaded every part of our lives. It has increased the quantity of communication, but not necessarily the quality. There are efficiencies that would be created for the court system, but for each benefit there comes a possible risk. So, what stands in the way of this technology leap? The greatest barrier to this technological leap may be the fact that it requires financial and procedural investment, and the legal world tends to resist investment and resists procedural change even more.
Author: Lauren N. Stanley
Can I get a DUI even if I have a Medical Marijuana Card?
In Oklahoma, the short answer is yes. According to current Oklahoma Statutes, the ability to legally use a controlled substance for medical purposes does not mean that it is legal to operate a motor vehicle while under its influence (47 O.S. 11-902 (B)). This applies to any substance that might cause impairment, whether it is a prescription or not. If a substance impairs cognitive function and normal reflexes it is neither safe nor legal to drive. The legality of the substance is irrelevant.
There are many prescriptions that have side effects that include drowsiness or impaired reflexes and it will say so on the bottle when you receive it. “CAUTION!!! This medication may cause drowsiness! Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how it affects you!” This applies to everything from heavy duty prescription narcotics to over-the-counter Benadryl.
According to the law, Marijuana is no exception. This exemplifies a situation in which older statutes have not been updated to reflect new laws. Marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I substance, even though Schedule I substances are considered to be those substances that lack a medical purpose (63 O.S. 2-203 & 63 O.S. 2-204 (C)(12)). The DUI Statute states that having anyamount of a Schedule I drug in your system is a violation (47 O.S. 11-902 (A)(3)). As such, testing positive is sufficient cause for prosecution, and the State does not have to prove that you were impaired, merely that it was in your system.
This is problematic for those who use legal medical Marijuana due to the fact that it lingers in your body long after its mind-altering effects have worn off. It can take up to thirty (30) days for your body to completely metabolize it.
This is a burgeoning issue in law and the administrative and legislative branches of the government are still trying to manage the legalization of Marijuana for medical purposes. As an individual, be sure to be responsible and take precautions to ensure your protection from a system that is still working out some of the kinks.
If you get stopped, politely decline from making any statements without your attorney present. Do not consent to taking the field sobriety test. Do not consent to a search of your vehicle. If you get arrested for a DUI call an experienced, aggressive, and compassionate team of attorneys that can handle the criminal and DPS issues for you. Why hire an attorney when you can hire a team?
Written by Lauren Stanley
Rules of Evidence
The rules of evidence are very specific and have been hammered out at the Federal and State levels through years of experience in watching the results of criminal and civil cases. The intent of these rules are to provide for a fair and just outcome. One of the Oklahoma rules, Title 12 O.S. § 2404(A)(1), is to prevent what might be perceived by a jury as a bad character trait, or a previous crime, from being used by the prosecution to prejudice the jury’s opinion of the defendant, instead of letting the facts speak for themselves. There is an exception built right into this rule (Title 12 O.S. § 2404(B)), which says it may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident. This is a well thought out and well written statute.
Weakening the Rules of Evidence
In an attempt to once again weaken the rules of evidence and to fix something that is not broken, the Oklahoma State legislature has proposed a legislative bill (HOUSE BILL 1093) that will bypass the above rule in cases of domestic abuse. At first blush, you might say that maybe domestic abuse cases may need some special consideration. However, this poses a very real to the rights of the accused. This increases the risk of sending an innocent person to prison based on perception instead of facts. §2404(B), along with several other exceptions, provide the prosecution ample opportunity to enter this type of evidence to show a pattern of behavior. Furthermore, if a jury was to find a defendant guilty of the crime, then the defendant would be looking at a much stiffer punishment for having previously committed the crime of domestic abuse. This proposed new law does not offer greater opportunity for the truth to come out, but instead plays into the mudslinging insanity that has irreparably damaged innocent lives of late.
Especially Faulty Language in House Bill 1093
Beside the fact that this law is redundant and more effectively handled by the current statutes, it adds dangerous language that opens the door to broad interpretation and possible misuse.
Here is what I mean, look at the words highlighted below from § D of the proposed bill:
D. For purposes of this rule, "domestic violence or abuse" means any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behavior, violence or other act of abuse against a person in a relationship as specified in subsection C of Section 644 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes. The violence or abuse may be psychological, physical, sexual, economic or emotional.
The current statutes defining Domestic Assault and Battery couldn’t be clearer. Look for yourself, I have attached them to the bottom of this post.. This bills new definition of domestic violence or abuse would bring in an unrealistic number of normal domestic issues into the fold of what would be considered as domestic abuse. Remember that this applies to the following people: spouse, significant other, former person you lived with, or blood relative. You can no longer threaten those people in any way. No limiting sweets, sex, or spending money without a risk of that relationship being brought before a jury to be judged. You can’t even threaten such limitations.
Who among us is flawless? Who among us has had perfect relationships? When accused, should the prosecutor be able to spread before a jury all of your dirty laundry, or only that which is pertinent to the case at hand? This bill is redundant and flows from the same river that drowns our airwaves with fear mongering, innuendo, and unsubstantiated claims. Haven’t we learned from history? We have more than enough laws and rules of evidence (see below). Let’s focus our legislative energy on improving education and broadening our economic base for a stronger Oklahoma.
Any person who commits any assault and battery against a current or former spouse, a present spouse of a former spouse, a former spouse of a present spouse, parents, a foster parent, a child, a person otherwise related by blood or marriage, a person with whom the defendant is or was in a dating relationship as defined by Section 60.1 of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes, an individual with whom the defendant has had a child, a person who formerly lived in the same household as the defendant, or a person living in the same household as the defendant shall be guilty of domestic abuse.
An assault is any willful and unlawful attempt or offer with force or violence to do a corporal hurt to another.
A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
The DA's office failed to prosecute the father, and laid all the blame on the mother. The lead investigator admitted that the investigation was influenced by the initial statements made by the parents, but the father then told the jury that he lied not once, not twice, but three times to police. Is this justice?
Hard fought trial results in a Not Guilty Verdict
Brian Boeheim and Ciera Freeman successfully defend this young man who was facing decades in prison.
A Tulsa man is making plans for the future after a jury found him not guilty of rape and sexual assault.
What is Deferred Prosecution?
Beginning in June of 2017, the Tulsa County DA began offering Deferred Prosecutions. This is a contractual arrangement to not file charges on you even though you have been arrested. Simply put, if you will sign up for voluntary supervision, pay all of your fines and fees upfront, then they won’t even file charges against you. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Maybe not, keep reading.
Who is eligible?
This contractual arrangement is only available to people who have a clean record and no criminal history. As you have read above, all the fines and fees must be paid in advance, so this will seriously limit the people that can take advantage of this program.
How much will it cost?
The supervision fee will be $240. On top of that, you will have a fee of between $200 and $400 for each charge you were booked in on. So, as an example, if you were arrested on Possession of Marijuana, No Driver’s License, and No Insurance; you would be looking at a total of $1065.00 total up front before you can take advantage of this program.
What does the supervision look like?
Tulsa COURTS will supervise you, which is the same group that supervises people for Drug Court. It will be for a minimum of 6 months, but could be 2 years. You may have to do a Drug and Alcohol Assessment, Random Urinalysis Drug Testing, Restitution, Mental Health Evaluation, Community Service Hours, Stay Away Orders, GPS, or SCRAM Alcohol Monitoring. Oh yeah, that is all at your cost. Also, they can also come visit your home or place of employment.
What happens if I fail?
Even if you only have supervision for 6 months, if you run into trouble anytime within 2 years, you will not only have to deal with those charges, but the DA will file these old charges on you too. They can also file the charges on you for any form of non-compliance.
Seems like a decent deal, what is the catch?
Your biggest concern is that you are waiving several of your Constitutional Rights! First, you will have to sign an agreement that says that the State of Oklahoma has sufficient evidence to achieve a conviction. Next you are waiving your rights to speedy prosecution and a speedy trial. Also, you will be waiving the Statute of Limitations. Finally, you will be waiving your rights to counsel.
Is there anything else I should know?
Yes. You are also waiving your ability to challenge the lawfulness of your arrest. You are also waiving your ability to challenge the search of your vehicle, home or person.
What should I do?
You have a right not to be singled out. You have a right not to be harassed because of who you are or what neighborhood you come from. You also have a right to your privacy. Hire a qualified attorney that is not afraid to fight for your rights. If the DA was going to give you the Deferred Prosecution then they most likely will still offer you Deferred Probation, which is practically the same thing without waiving all of your rights.
Why is the DA offering this?
It is about the money. This method of handling cases will shift money from the Court Fund to the DA Fund. This isn’t about helping you, but instead a way of funding the DA’s Office.
If you are accused of robbery, there could be very significant penalties at stake. While most theft crimes are considered property crimes, robbery is considered a violent crime against the person. Depending on the type of robbery with which you are charged, you could be facing up to life in prison.
What is Robbery?
Someone who discovers their property missing may say they have been “robbed.” This is actually larceny or burglary. While larceny and burglary generally depend upon stealth, robbery is about the force or fear used to commit the crime. Robbery is defined by Oklahoma law as “a wrongful taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear” (21 O.S. § 791). The state divides robbery into several classifications, including first degree, second degree, conjoint, and armed robbery.
First Degree Robbery
Defined in 21 O.S. § 797, first degree robbery occurs under one or more of four specific circumstances:
1. inflicts serious bodily injury upon the person;
2. threatens a person with immediate serious bodily injury;
3. intentionally puts a person in fear of immediate serious bodily injury; or
4. commits or threatens to commit a felony upon the person.
First degree robbery is a felony punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison. It is also an “85 percent crime,” under O.S. 21 § 13.1, a person convicted of this crime must to serve a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence before the possibility of parole. With that said, there is case law that brings the minimum down to 5 years, but judicial notice should be invoked.
Second Degree Robbery
Second degree robbery does not carry the same requirement that the force results in serious bodily injury or that the fear is the intentional threat of serious bodily injury. Second degree robbery is a lesser offense than first degree robbery, and it is not an “85 percent crime”. Robbery in the second degree brings a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Conjoint robbery, or robbery committed by two or more people conspiring or acting together to accomplish the robbery is a serious felony where each person involved faces 5 to 50 years in prison. Like first degree robbery, conjoint robbery is an “85 percent crime”.
Robbery or attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon or imitation firearm (21 O.S. § 801) carries a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison. It is important to note that this law also includes failed attempts. It does not matter if the gun was not loaded, or even if the “firearm” used was a fake. Because the motive behind the use of an unloaded or imitation gun is still “force or fear,” it is considered armed robbery even with a toy gun. Robbery or attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon or imitation firearm is an “85 percent crime”.
Robbery is a Serious Felony
Robbery charges are very serious and the DA’s office prosecutes these cases aggressively. You or your loved one could be facing decades in prison, mandatory minimum sentencing, and even registration with law enforcement for placement on the Oklahoma Violent Offender Registry. Call us today at 918-884-7791 to discuss how we can defend you or your loved one from a Robbery charge.