Facts to Know
Oklahoma trial courts are permitted to review sentences imposed to consider a modification. The procedures and guidelines for sentence modifications are governed by Title 22, Section 982a, of the Oklahoma Statutes. A defendant that successfully applies for and receives a sentence modification can end up with a significant portion of their time in incarceration removed. An Oklahoma City judicial review modification attorney can help you successfully navigate that process.
If you think you might seek a sentence modification, there are some essential things to know concerning:
- How long it has been since you were sentenced;
- The type of crime you were convicted of and the length of sentence imposed;
- The kind of sentencing — whether it was by a judge, jury, or by plea agreement;
- Your prior criminal history
Time Since Sentencing
The court that imposed an individual’s sentence, or revoked their probation status, can review that sentence or revocation to consider modification within 60 months after the court imposed the initial sentence or revoked probation. If the reviewing court believes a modification will not jeopardize “the best interests of the public,” it can modify the sentence or revocation and direct that another be imposed. The court may not, however, modify a sentence to a deferred sentence.
The district attorney must approve if the individual seeking modification was sentenced more than 12 months before the hearing. From there, the district attorney must give written notice to any victims in the case being considered for modification. If the review occurs within 12 months of the sentence’s imposition, the defendant isn’t required to get the prosecutor’s approval (with the exceptions discussed below).
Defendants sentenced for a drug charge and ordered to complete the Drug Offender Work Camp at the Bill Johnson Correctional Facility are not confined by the 60-month restriction. They may apply for sentence modification beyond that time.
Life Without Parole
Defendants sentenced to life without parole for offenses other than violent offenses under Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes are also eligible for sentence modification but have different criteria to meet. These defendants must have served at least 10 years of their sentence to apply for a sentence modification with the court which imposed their sentence. When considering a modification, the court considers the same “best interests of the public” criteria as with other crimes; however, before granting a modification, the court has to provide notice of the hearing to the victim(s). It shall also allow the victim(s) to give testimony at the hearing.
Type of Sentencing
Defendants sentenced by plea agreement or a jury verdict must always receive the prosecutor’s approval, whether the modification hearing occurs before or after the 12 months mentioned above. As such, only defendants sentenced directly by the court can seek a judicial modification of their sentence without receiving approval from their prosecutor.
Sadly, judicial review for sentence modification does not apply to convicted felons in prison confinement for a felony conviction within the 10 years before their current sentence was imposed.
Procedurally, Title 22, Section 982a (C), of the Oklahoma Statutes states:
For purposes of judicial review . . . the Department of Corrections shall provide the court . . . with a report to include a summary of the assessed needs of the offender, any progress made by the offender in addressing their assessed needs, and any other information the Department can supply on the offender. The court shall consider such reports when modifying the sentence or revocation of probation. The court shall allow the Department of Corrections at least twenty (20) days after receipt of a request or order from the court to prepare the required reports.
Following a defendant’s application for sentence modification and the court’s review of the Department of Corrections report, the court will hold a hearing on the application. The defendant seeking sentence modification, their legal counsel, and the district attorney for the county where the defendant was sentenced are allowed to attend the hearing.
Oklahoma Sentence Modification Attorney
Just because you were convicted and sentenced does not mean it is over for you. As shown above, almost no matter the circumstances of your conviction, there is a pathway to freedom other than finishing the term for which you were sentenced through sentence modification. Success when requesting a sentence modification often entails working with the court and even the prosecutor who put you behind bars. For these very reasons, we recommend that you work with a skillful attorney to advocate on your behalf. An Oklahoma City sentence modification attorney with Wirth Law Office can help you.
For a free consultation with an Oklahoma City sentence modification attorney, call 918-932-2833. You can also submit an email question from the top right corner of this page. We will respond to all inquiries as soon as possible.