What You Need to Know if you are charged with domestic violence in Oklahoma

This article was written to answer the most common questions on defending a domestic violence case in Oklahoma and what you need to know, if you are charged with domestic violence in Oklahoma. Domestic violence cases and domestic violence criminal charges take many forms in Oklahoma. Whether you are facing a first-time misdemeanor domestic violence charge or felony domestic violence by strangulation or worse, it is very important to work with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney that understands the process and the players in your domestic violence case. 

Our team of Your Fierce Advocates® at Cannon & Associates is led by out founder, John Cannon. He is a former domestic violence prosecutor and has handled over 1,000 domestic violence cases from both the prosecution and the defense perspective. You can find additional resources on our YouTube page as well. The following article is intended to answer the most common questions our clients face regarding being charged with domestic violence. 

You are welcome to call us at (405) 657-2323 any day or night to schedule a FREE confidential case planning session. Until we have the opportunity to speak with you, we hope the following information is helpful in your search for understanding of defending against domestic violence charges in Oklahoma. 

What is domestic violence in Oklahoma?

One of the most important points in understanding domestic violence charges in Oklahoma is knowing what domestic violence means in Oklahoma. In order for an assault and battery to qualify as domestic violence, the parties involved must fall into one of the defined categories of relationships.

In order for an assault and battery to be domestic violence in Oklahoma a pre-existing relationship must exist. You cannot get into a fight with a stranger, even of the opposite sex, and be charged with domestic violence in Oklahoma. 

In order for an assault and battery to qualify as domestic violence in Oklahoma, one of the following relationships must exist between the accused and the complainant: 

  • Husband/wife/spouse
  • Ex-husband/ex-wife/former spouse
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other
  • Parent/step-parent
  • Foster parent
  • Child/step-child
  • Some blood relative relationships qualify as well
  • Co-habitant/roommate

A key defining factor of domestic violence charges is that they require a relationship between the parties prior to the altercation. Alternatively, assault and battery charges, at any level of seriousness, do not require a prior relationship.

Domestic violence charges are treated more seriously than simple assault and battery charges by both prosecution offices and the Oklahoma legislature. I know this point very well, as I used to be a domestic violence prosecutor. One of the reasons for this fact is that domestic violence incidents are often the culmination of multiple instances of threats of violence and these altercations are often far more dangerous than fights between strangers. 

What does it mean to be charged with Misdemeanor Domestic Violence in Oklahoma?

In general the first offense of domestic violence in Oklahoma will be filed or charged as a misdemeanor; however, when serious allegations are part of the case, i.e. strangulation or use of a weapon, then a first-offense of domestic violence in Oklahoma can be filed as a felony. When domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon or strangulation are alleged, felony domestic violence charges will often follow in court. 

First-offense domestic violence in Oklahoma comes with the potential punishment of most misdemeanor crimes; however, additional conditions can be applied in a domestic violence case. When you are charged with misdemeanor domestic violence you will face up to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. 

What does probation look like for Domestic Violence Cases in Oklahoma?

You may be required to have supervised probation through the District Attorney’s Office or a probation office, if you enter a plea and receive probation in your domestic violence case in Oklahoma. You may be required to complete Batterer’s Intervention, if you enter a plea to domestic violence charges. 

Additionally, you may have the additional probation terms, if you are unable to get your domestic violence charges dismissed: court costs, classes to complete, probation fees, and community service to complete. This is one of the reasons it is so important to work with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney in Oklahoma to assist you in understanding your options ad working to get the best terms of probation, if you case cannot be dismissed. 

Where will my Domestic Violence Charged be filed?

Your domestic violence charge will be filed in one of three courts with jurisdiction over the physical location of the alleged domestic violence: municipal court, state District Court, or potentially federal court, if one of the parties is Native American due to the Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt. 

 The majority of domestic violence cases are filed in District Court, i.e. Oklahoma County, Canadian County, Cleveland County, etc. However, unlike DUI offenses that can only be prosecuted in “courts of record,” your first-time domestic violence case can be filed in municipal court.  Your first-time domestic violence case could be filed in municipal court, such as Oklahoma City, Edmond, Mustang, Midwest City, Yukon, or Piedmont. 

Although it is possible your first-time domestic violence offense can be filed in municipal court, the resources available at the District Court level are greater and the vast majority of domestic violence charged are filed in District Court.  

Do Police always arrest someone, if called to the scene of a Domestic Violence allegation?

No, police do not always arrest someone, if they are called by a party or witness to a domestic violence allegation. However, police will arrest someone at the scene of a domestic violence allegation, if a fight took place and there are visible signs of injury to one of the parties involved. 

When police arrive on the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident in Oklahoma, they are first and foremost there to make sure the event does not escalate and become more serious. Police will speak to the witnesses or parties present and look for signs of a struggle or injury. Police will arrest someone, if the other parties continues their allegation of domestic violence and/or if police observe injuries to one of the parties.

Do I have to speak to Police at the scene of an alleged Domestic Violence incident?

No, you have a Constitutional right to remain silent and we recommend you exercise that right! Police are typically not evaluating whether or not they “believe” your story in deciding whether or not to arrest you. When police consider arresting someone at the scene of any crime, especially domestic violence allegations, they are looking for evidence only. Your statements may only serve to incriminate you in court later, if domestic violence charged are filed against you. Let an experienced domestic violence defense attorney speak for you, remain silent. Period. 

Can I bond out of Jail on a Domestic Violence charge?

You cannot immediately bond out of jail on domestic violence charges in Oklahoma. In most misdemeanor arrests, such as DUI or simple possession of drugs, your bond is set by a “bond schedule” at the county jail and you can immediately get out of jail by posting your bond or hiring a bondsman to post bond for you. 

Oklahoma law allows police or the sheriff to hold you for up to 72 hours without bond in Oklahoma. For example, Oklahoma County holds people arrested for domestic violence for 48 hours, two full days, and prior to releasing them on suspicion of domestic violence. The scary part is that this is not reviewed by a judge or attorney, rather it simply happens when law enforcement takes someone into custody based on an allegation of domestic violence. 

The time period you are held in custody prior to being granted a bond in Oklahoma following a domestic violence arrest is typically referred to as “cooling-off period.” The explanation is simple, tempers are often most inflamed close in time to an alleged instance of domestic violence. Additionally, as most domestic violence allegations are between spouses or significant others, it is fair to say they parties will likely be under the same roof once the arrested party is released. Conversely, it is an opportunity for the other party to make plans to address the issue upon the other party’s release or time to move out of the home that the other party will return to after release from jail on suspicion of domestic violence. 

Whether you decide to work with us or not, we encourage you to reach out to our experienced domestic violence defense attorneys to answer your questions about defending against an allegation of domestic violence. Our founder is a former domestic violence prosecutor and we are Fierce Advocates® for every client we serve. You may call us anytime 405-591-3935 for a free confidential case strategy session concerning you criminal defense or for answers to your questions. 

Is there a difference between a first-offense domestic violence charge and a second domestic violence charge? 

Yes, in Oklahoma domestic violence allegations are “predicate offenses,” which means a prior misdemeanor domestic violence charge can result in a second or subsequent misdemeanor domestic violence charge being filed as a felony. Domestic violence felony charges carry up to four years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. 

The consequences of a felony domestic violence charge are far more serious than the potential implications of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. As stated above, you may be charged with felony domestic violence for simple domestic assault and battery, typically a misdemeanor, if you have a prior domestic violence case within the past ten years. 

Why is Domestic Violence Assault and Battery by Strangulation a felony?

Domestic violence assault and battery by strangulation is a felony in Oklahoma due to the potential loss of life than can come as a result of strangulation. The penalty for a first time allegation of domestic violence strangulation in Oklahoma is one to three years in prison and up to a $3,000 fine. 

Domestic violence assault and battery by strangulation has six elements that the prosecution must prove in order to sustain a conviction or prove you guilty of domestic violence strangulation in Oklahoma: 

  1. Willful – you intended to do it
  2. Unlawful – you legal defense exists
  3. Attempting or offering to use force or violence
  4. Actual use of force or violence
  5. Qualifying domestic relationship (see above)
  6. Intent to cause “great bodily harm” by strangulation

What does Domestic Violence with Great Bodily Injury mean in Oklahoma?

Domestic violence with great bodily injury is a felony offense, regardless of whether or not the person has a prior domestic violence charge or conviction. When the victim of a domestic violence event suffers an alleged serious injury, including broken bones, serious cuts, or other serious injury, felony domestic violence with great bodily injury charges will follow. 

The first-time offense of alleged domestic violence with great bodily injury carries up to ten years in prison, i.e. this allegation is treat far more seriously than felony domestic violence without great bodily injury. The punishment is up to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, if the victim of domestic violence with great bodily injury is also pregnant. 

What are the consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction in Oklahoma?

 Under Oklahoma law, you will be required to complete the above referenced 52-week Batterer’s Intervention Course, if you are found guilty of any domestic violence charge, in addition to other terms of probation.  You may be found guilty be a judge in a sentencing hearing, by a jury in trial, or by agreement pursuant to a plea. 

However, if you are not found guilty and your domestic vioelcne case is dismissed, then you will not have to perform any terms of probation on your Oklahoma domestic violence allegation. Although, if you enter a plea and receive a deferred sentence, your case is resolved, but you have not been convicted of domestic violence. 

In the instance of receiving a deferred sentence on a domestic violence case, you have not been sentenced yet. Your sentencing date is set off and the case will be dismissed, if you complete the required terms of probation in the agreed time period. 

Domestic violence cases are the only type of criminal charge in Oklahoma that requires a mandatory one-year probation program. We have successfully helped clients have their domestic violence charges amended to simply assault and battery or dismissed to avoid the 52-week course; however, if you cannot accomplish this goal, it will be requirement of your probation. 

Are Domestic Violence charges violent under Oklahoma law?

No, domestic violence charges are not “violent” offenses as a whole under Oklahoma law. However, these charges involve a certain level of force. Under Oklahoma law there are “violent” felony offenses that carry stiff penalties, including the requirement to register as a Violent Offender with the Violent Offender Registry. The most serious domestic violence charges, i.e. Domestic Abuse Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon is a violent felony offense and requires service of at least roughly half of any prison sentence received. 

 Can I get my Domestic Violence Case dismissed in Oklahoma?

Potentially yes, domestic violence cases must be presented to a jury of your peers and these must believe you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you under the Constitution. The prosecutor has the burden of proof to show to a unanimous jury that you are in fact guilty of any alleged domestic violence charge. 

There are many opportunities to fight your domestic violence case prior to leaving the decision to a jury. Your Fierce Advocates® at Cannon and Associates use every tool available to seek dismissal of your case. Our team follows a specific process to seek dismissal of every domestic violence case, which is not always successful, but it allows us to hold the government to its burden of being able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before we advise any client to accept a plea deal. 

The process we follow to seek dismissal of every criminal defense client’s case, including clients facing domestic violence charges is as follows:

1. Communicate with Our Clients: we begin the defense of every criminal defense client with a conversation to understand the issues in our client’s case and their version of events. Our clients often tell us far more information and give far better insight into the events leading up to their being arrested for domestic violence than the police reports convey. 

Our open dialogue with our clients facing domestic violence charges assists us in focusing our investigation into the evidence and issues that support our client’s position and story in their case. You can be charged with witness tampering or threating a witness, if you do your own research into your domestic violence defense in Oklahoma. It is better to work with an experienced domestic violence defense to attorney to ensure that your story is discovered without facing additional criminal charges. 

Once we are confident that we understand the issues and the case from our client’s perspective, then we begin to investigate their case. 

2. Investigate the Case: we obtain all the available evidence from law enforcement, prosecutors, and other government parties though open record requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as subpoena power and communication with these agencies to obtain records by their internal processes.

By obtaining all the available evidence from the prosecution and government, we can evaluate the prosecution’s case and then discuss with our domestic violence client what the government can bring as witnesses and evidence against them, if they decide to go to trial. 

Separately from the discovery process, we use our investigator and his connections to interview relevant witnesses and obtain evidence that cannot be gathered through the discovery process. As is often the case, the story witnesses tell our team / our investigator is not exactly what is conveyed in the incident reports by law enforcement at the scene. 

During our independent investigation of the story behind your alleged domestic violence case, we will speak with the complaining witness, if they are willing to speak to us. They often convey a story that is the exact opposite of the information in the police report. 

Once we have all the information available in your case, we will work to ensure we know your story and can tell it in a compelling way when we meet with the prosecutor on your case. 

3. Become Your Fierce Advocates®: we are very protective of our reputation and credibility with prosecutors and the judges that rule on all our criminal defense clients’ cases and we fight every day to maintain our credibility and respect in the legal community, while fighting FIERCELY for every client. Knowledge is power in the Courts and when we have a clear understanding of every client’s case and the witnesses and evidence to support our client’s defense, it allows us to fight fiercely for the best outcome for every client, often resulting in dismissal of their case.  

We are not afraid to take every client’s case to trial. We would not claim to be Your Fierce Advocates® if we were worried about taking your case to trial. However, that is not always the best course of action for our clients, including clients facing domestic violence charges in Oklahoma. 

We will do an evaluation of taking every case to trial with each client we serve that is based on shared understanding of the options, evidence, and our opinion on each client’s case. No one knows what a jury will or will not do in your domestic violence trial, if we are unable to convince the prosecutor to dismiss your case. However, we do everything we can to give you the option of the best possible outcome in your case and the best chance at winning at trial. This combined approach gives our clients the best of both worlds, which is a choice in the outcome of their domestic violence case in Oklahoma. 

Does the Victim have to show up to Court in my Domestic Violence case?

Yes, if your case is not dismissed and you choose to not accept the offer from the prosecution, then the “Victim” or complaining witness will have to show up to Court and testify to their allegations against you. Without the testimony of the complaining witness in a domestic violence case it is very difficult for the government / prosecution to obtain a conviction in a domestic violence case in Oklahoma. 

You are entitled to a preliminary hearing long before trial, if you are facing a felony charge in Oklahoma, such as Domestic Abuse by Strangulation or Domestic Abuse Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon. During the preliminary hearing the prosecution must present sufficient evidence to support probable cause evidence that you committed the alleged crime. 

We often find that the complaining witness in domestic violence cases think things are over after they speak to police at the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident. However, the statements made at the scene to police are not evidence. You are entitled and obligated to clear the record, if police got things wrong at the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident. 

We meet with new domestic violence clients and their significant others regularly and the complaining witness “Victim” tells us all the time that nothing really happened or they do not want to press charges or the police got it all wrong. We try to assist these witnesses in being heard by helping them prepare sworn affidavits that we present to prosecutors to let them know the “victim’s” version of events after the heat of the moment. 

Do Victims of Domestic Violence Cases decide the outcome?

No, victims in domestic violence cases do not decide the outcome of the case. In fact, prosecutors have the authority to decide whether to continue prosecution of a domestic violence case in Oklahoma, whether or not the victim wants to cooperate. 

The domestic violence cases are not victim versus domestic violence defendant. Rather, the case is the State of Oklahoma versus the domestic violence defendant. Therefore, the government has the authority to decide whether they will continue to prosecute the case or not. 

Do Domestic Violence Cases and Family Law overlap?

Unfortunately, domestic violence cases often overlap with family law or divorce in Oklahoma. In fact, domestic violence allegations are often the result of long standing fights or anger in a marriage. Cannon and Associates represents clients in family law and domestic violence defense. We have found the combination of our team of criminal defense attorneys and our team of family law attorney are greatly positioned in order to assist any client that is facing domestic violence charges and divorce. 

When we have a client that is facing both domestic violence charges and divorce, our team will assign the best domestic violence defense attorney for the client, as well as the most experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney for that client’s case. We have weekly sync meetings and the entire team has digital access to client files to ensure both sides of your defense and your divorce attorney are on the same page and working to fight for you and the best outcome in both matters. 

Whether you are facing divorce and domestic violence charges or only one, we are glad to meet with you, answer your questions, and explain the process forward whatever the circumstance. 


If you are facing domestic violence charges or are under investigation for domestic violence, it is important to work with an experienced Oklahoma City domestic violence defense attorney to increase your chance of having your case dismissed or obtaining the best outcome possible in your first-time domestic violence case, felony domestic violence case, or strangulation defense.

Additionally, by taking a strategic approach to your Oklahoma domestic violence case, you increase your chances of obtaining a dismissal or the best outcome in your domestic violence case.

Your Fierce Advocates® at Cannon & Associates are dedicated to answering your questions and preparing you for whatever lies ahead in your Oklahoma domestic violence defense case. Our owner is a Judge Advocate and former domestic violence prosecutor and we take pride in assisting clients through the difficult times of facing the criminal justice system.

CALL NOW 405-591-3935 for your free confidential case strategy session to help you understand your options in your Oklahoma domestic violence defense.