Will a New Oklahoma Law Reduce Defense Costs for Drug Offenders?
As discussed in the previous blog, in late April and early May 2018 the governor of Oklahoma signed quite a few new bills into law that affect criminal sentencing. One of these laws may reduce defense costs for drug offenders. Another may help drug offenders who need treatment more than they need prison time.
First, the law known as SB 1021 could lead to reduced costs of criminal defense. When the law goes into effect in late 2018, people who are charged with crimes and have limited finances will be able to receive court-appointed attorneys if they post bail. Currently, anyone who posts bail is automatically ineligible to get help from a court-appointed attorney (a public defender). It does not matter if posting bail uses up all the defendant’s money so that he becomes indigent.
The new law will give more defendants with few financial resources legal representation without forcing them to represent themselves because they cannot afford costs beyond bail. It may lead to reduced costs of defense in the future because defendants will have someone on their side from the very beginning in a criminal case. If later, they obtain the funds to pay for a private criminal defense attorney, they will not have jeopardized their case early on.
Public defenders may be extremely helpful for criminal defendants who do not think they can afford a private attorney. However, these court-appointed attorneys tend to have a heavy caseload and very limited time to spend on any one case. Private attorneys may accept surprisingly reasonable rates to defend you, get to know you, and focus on your case.
Of course, court costs are always a concern for defendants, whether they choose a public defender or a private attorney. The new law known as SB 689 will allow judges to use discretion in choosing whether to waive fees, fines, and court costs for drug crime defendants if the defendants seek help in treatment and supervision programs. The law also allows judges discretion to sentence drug offenders to treatment and supervision programs instead of prison. Previously, jail or prison in addition to treatment often had to be part of a sentence.
Need an attorney for drug charges in Oklahoma? Seek out the attorney who is in court nearly every day and follows changes in Oklahoma law. Clint Patterson, Esq., of Patterson Law Firm, a former Tulsa prosecutor now using his trial experience to defend Oklahomans, has the experience and the insight to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Patterson Law Firm online or call Clint’s office at (918) 550-9175.