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FAQ: Criminal Defense

The Handley Law Center May 10, 2023

A criminal investigation, charge, or arrest can change your life dramatically. A criminal record in Oklahoma can haunt you going forward in life, preventing you from obtaining the job of your dreams, or even qualifying for professional licensing or public benefits. Your record may even stand in the way of obtaining a loan, renting a residence, preserving your gun rights, and more. 

If you are under investigation or facing a criminal charge in or around Canadian County, Oklahoma, it’s important to understand the facts about your case. Contact our criminal defense team here at The Handley Law Center. We have decades of courtroom experience in fighting for people’s rights under the law, and we will develop a strong defense strategy to work for the best possible outcome in your case.  

In addition to Canadian County, we proudly serve clients throughout all of Oklahoma, including Custer, Blaine, Kingfisher, and Caddo counties. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Criminal Defense

Do I have to speak to police or prosecutors after being arrested?

The simple answer is no. Law enforcement officials, in fact, are required to read you your Miranda Rights, which include the admonition that “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” Do not answer questions until you have legal representation, and then only follow the counsel of the attorney or attorneys who represent you. 

I just want this over with. Should I accept a plea bargain?

Not necessarily. The prosecutors must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you accept the first plea bargain offered you, you are going to end up not only with the penalties they offer you—like imprisonment, fines, probation, restitution, or community service—but you will also have to face the consequences of a criminal record that can limit and haunt your life for years. You need to reach out to an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer before agreeing to anything. 

When are police allowed to search my person, vehicle, or home?

Before authorities can do anything, they must have probable cause. They cannot just look at you and merely think that you are a criminal, and then search you. You have Constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures. Generally, this means that law enforcement must have probable cause and need to obtain a search warrant. Keep in mind that when it comes to searching your vehicle if you’ve been pulled over, the police have a little more leeway. Every case is different, so be sure to contact your attorney. 

The police didn’t read me my rights. Am I still under arrest?

The authorities may take you in, but if they violate your Miranda Rights or other Constitutional protections, you might have a legitimate cause for the case being dismissed. 

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Misdemeanors are generally less serious charges that may result in only a fine, community service, probation, or even a minor jail term. Felonies are more serious charges that generally involve violence, kidnapping, theft of property, sexual assault, and other crimes of that nature. Felonies have penalties that include prison terms, as well as fines, probation, restitution, and more. Felonies also have the potential to strip you of certain rights, such as owning and possessing firearms and even the right to vote. 

What happens if I’m charged with a crime in Oklahoma and live in another state?

If it’s a misdemeanor, you may be able to pay the fine from your home state, provided there is no other penalty involved. However, if you are charged in Oklahoma with something more serious, you may be required to post bail. You will also be expected to appear for any court proceedings. You should consult with an experienced defense attorney before leaving the state to discuss your options. If you don’t appear in court, you will certainly forfeit your bail and may be subject to arrest and a request for extradition from your home state. 

Can I get my criminal record expunged?

Oklahoma does allow criminal record expungement (cleared from public view) for those for whom no charges were filed, or the charges were dismissed, or the charges were deferred and dismissed, or were found not guilty, or were pardoned. It gets more complicated if you were actually convicted. Even for a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony, you cannot apply for expungement for at least five years. 

Do I need an attorney if I’m facing an investigation or a criminal charge?

The answer is absolutely yes. If you try to “talk your way out” of a criminal charge, you are your own worst enemy. Authorities will use whatever you say to bring a case against you. You need to seek criminal defense counsel and follow what your attorney recommends. Don’t accept any plea bargain and don’t answer questions without the counsel of a qualified attorney.  

Fight for Your Rights

A criminal investigation or charge can upend your life, especially if you are found guilty. But remember: you have rights under the Constitution. You don’t need to go through this difficult time alone. Reach out to us at The Handley Law Center if criminal charges threaten your future.