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The Patterson Law Firm

How the State Can Seize Innocent Oklahomans’ Property through Civil Asset Forfeiture

How the State Can Seize Innocent Oklahomans’ Property through Civil Asset Forfeiture

Oklahoma’s civil asset forfeiture laws allows police to confiscate your personal property if they believe it is connected to a crime. The laws allow the state to collect millions of dollars in personal property that may have no relationship to a crime at all. Under civil asset forfeiture laws, citizens “forfeit” property that law enforcement believes had a connection to a crime. Police could seize cash found during a traffic stop, for example, if they suspected it was proceeds from the sale of drugs. The property seized can include anything from cash to vehicles to real estate. Most forfeitures involve cash...

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The Oklahoma Trafficking in Illegal Drugs Act and Its Consequences

The Oklahoma Trafficking in Illegal Drugs Act and Its Consequences

In Oklahoma, the Trafficking in Illegal Drugs Act prohibits drug crimes involving large amounts of controlled substances. Sentencing requirements for people convicted of drug trafficking have changed in recent years, but Oklahoma still has one of the strictest sets of drug laws in the country. Oklahoma law criminalizes possessing, distributing, manufacturing, or transporting into the state certain quantities of various different controlled dangerous substances. Further, the Trafficking in Illegal Drugs Act also prohibits (1) possessing CDS with the intent to manufacture drugs in large quantities and (2) using or soliciting services of a minor to distribute or manufacture a CDS. All...

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What Are “Aggravated” Drug Crimes in Oklahoma?

What Are Aggravated Drug Crimes in Oklahoma?

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Oklahoma, you need to understand the charges against you. This could be complicated depending on what crimes you have been charged with, because the state’s drug crime laws are not written in plain language. One word that criminal defendants may puzzle at is the term “aggravated” drug crime. Oklahoma drug crime law has tiered sentences and fines as crimes become more “serious” in the eyes of the law. A first offense for marijuana possession is a misdemeanor. In contrast, a first offense for possession of cocaine is a felony. Second and...

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Criminal Conspiracy Charges in Oklahoma

Criminal Conspiracy Charges in Oklahoma

Oklahoma law criminalizes conspiracy to commit a crime, even if the accused does not commit the planned crime itself. A criminal conspiracy involves a group of people working together to plan or execute a criminal act. To prove that a person is guilty of criminal conspiracy, the prosecution must show that (1) there was an agreement among two or more people (including the accused) to commit a crime, and (2) at least one person took an overt act in furtherance of the agreement to commit a crime. 21 O.S. § 421. Again, it does not matter whether the co-conspirators actually commit...

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Can You Commit a Drug Crime Just by Using the Telephone?

Can You Commit a Drug Crime Just by Using the Telephone?

Using a telephone to commit certain felonies could net you another felony conviction in Oklahoma. This state law follows similar federal law focusing on use of communications devices in facilitating or committing crimes. Under the law, it is a felony to willfully use any “communication facility” in committing any act that is one of several felonies. 13 O.S. § 176.3(8). The felonies include distributing, manufacturing, cultivating, or trafficking drugs, including any conspiracy to do so. 13 O.S. § 176.7. Using a communication facility to cause or facilitate the commission of these felonies is also prohibited. Communication facilities include telephone, mail, wire,...

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Knowing Possession of Drug Proceeds: Illegal in Oklahoma

Knowing Possession of Drug Proceeds: Illegal in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, possessing or receiving money that you know came from drug sales is a crime. Police can seize any property that you purchased using drug money through a process called forfeiture. Oklahoma law states that it is illegal to receive or acquire “drug proceeds”. Law enforcement can charge you with a felony for this crime. To prove that someone illegally received or acquired drug proceeds, the prosecution must show that the defendant knowingly or intentionally received or acquired drug proceeds, knew that the proceeds were gained from illegal activity, and knowingly or intentionally concealed the proceeds or engaged in transactions...

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The Erin Swezey Act and Ignition Interlock Devices

The Erin Swezey Act and Ignition Interlock Devices

The Erin Swezey Act imposes strict penalties requiring ignition interlock devices for people convicted of driving under the influence. The Act went into effect in 2011 and is named after an Oklahoman killed by a drunk driver. An ignition interlock device prevents a driver who has consumed a certain detectable level of alcohol from operating a motor vehicle. Generally, the devices have a small spout that drivers blow into and a screen shows whether the driver has exceeded the blood alcohol limit. If so, the driver cannot start the car. Usually there is a waiting period before the driver can try...

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Driveway Car Searches: Legal without a Warrant?

Driveway Car Searches: Legal without a Warrant

Recent court cases call into question whether police can enter and search your driveway for evidence of a crime. The Minnesota Supreme Court decided that police needed a warrant to search a vehicle parked on someone’s property. In addition, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in a similar warrantless search case. The Minnesota case involved an allegedly stolen camper van parked in the back of the accused’s property. Police walked onto his driveway and toward the camper van, inspecting it. They determined that it matched the description of a stolen vehicle and charged the accused with receiving...

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Are Head Shops Illegal in Oklahoma?

Are Head Shops Illegal in Oklahoma?

Head shops are stores that sell rolling papers, smoking accessories, and what police might call “drug paraphernalia”, along with tobacco and other legal products. Law enforcement in Oklahoma have cracked down on head shops over the past few years, claiming that they sell items used to take drugs. For instance, a market that sold glass pipes has been repeatedly targeted for arrests and civil asset forfeiture. Oklahoma law defines drug paraphernalia as “all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing,...

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Passengers’ Rights at Traffic Stops

Passengers’ Rights at Traffic Stops

Passengers in a car pulled over at a traffic stop are in a sticky position. They are not operating the vehicle, so they cannot be arrested for DUI or cited for traffic infractions. When law enforcement pulls a car over, passengers may not know what to do. Can the police order a passenger to stay in the car or get out of the car? Yes, courts have concluded that police can either order passengers to stay in or get out of the car during a traffic stop. Reasoning centers on concern for police officers’ safety and need to exercise control over everyone...

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