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Your Rights, if accused or charged with a crime as a minor in Oklahoma

It is important to know your rights and retain an Oklahoma juvenile criminal defense attorney with experience defending children and minors, if you or your child/minor family member has been accused or charged with a juvenile crime. Your life and freedom are on the line and you need a defense. In Oklahoma there are a wide variety of juvenile criminal offenses and a unique procedure that requires experienced counsel to help you navigate.

Juvenile Criminal Defense

Children and teenagers facing the difficulties of life, school, family, and peer pressure sometimes turn to poor outlets and poor choices, including drugs, alcohol, and crime, when faced with these and other tough circumstances. CANNON & ASSOCIATES works every day to ensure our clients’ bad choices don’t ruin their lives. Young men and women need quality and compassionate defense counsel with experience defending juvenile criminal cases. Choosing the right juvenile criminal defense attorney is a very important decision.

The stakes when a minor child is accused or charged with a crime are very high. A conviction for a violent or serious offense can have consequences that follow them for life, especially, if the child has prior criminal trouble.

Consequences and Punishment for Juvenile Crimes in Oklahoma

Juvenile criminal prosecution consists of a number of separate processes, which take place at the same time. The most important determination is how the child offender will be charged and tried: delinquent, youthful offender, or adult. Children facing criminal charges in Oklahoma are subject to one of the three proceedings uder the Oklahoma “Youthful Offender Act”, OKLA. STAT. tit. 10A §§2-5-201 et. al.:

  1. Juvenile Delinquent
  2. Youthful Offender
  3. An Adult

Each category has a different process and procedure, which an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney will know and ensure is respected for the benefit of your case. A certification hearing, to determine whether a child will be tried as an adult or not, is crucial to the case and your chosen juvenile criminal defense attorney’s responsibility to seek “Certification as a child”.

Juvenile Delinquent Adjudication

Juvenile delinquent adjudication is the least serious process for a minor. In Oklahoma, minors under the age of eighteen are not convicted for crimes, unless charged and convicted with specific offenses, discussed below. A child or teenage with a juvenile delinquent adjudication may spent time in a detention facility, but the records will be sealed and not visible to the public. This is the least serious of the three categories of processes and is generally reserved for minor offenses by children fifteen years old or younger.

Youthful Offenders

Youthful Offender is the middle ground, as far as seriousness of charges, between juvenile delinquent and being charged as an adult. However, these proceedings should not be taken lightly. Proceedings under the Oklahoma “Youthful Offender Act”, OKLA. STAT. tit. 10A §§2-5-201 et at. are reserved for serious offenses. If the outcome of a minor’s case is Youthful Offender he or she will receive an adult sentence. However, the person may be released before being transferred from a juvenile center to an adult facility.

have specific time and pleading requirements, which your attorney must meet in order to protect the your rights or the rights of a child facing this process. Additionally, experienced criminal defense counsel can hold the prosecution to its heightened burden and seek relief, including dismissal of the case, if the prosecution fails to follow the requirements of the Youthful Offender process.

Juvenile criminal defense counsel must seek certification as a juvenile and certification as a Youthful Offender by filing the proper paperwork by the required timeline. Failure to do so may waive your right to these proceedings. Being sentenced as a Youthful Offender is not a conviction in the typical sense, unless the child is bridged to custody of or supervision by the Department of Corrections. The purpose of these proceedings is two-fold: protect the public and rehabilitate youths through the Office of Juvenile Affairs treatment programs.

When does a Minor become a Youthful Offender?

Youthful offenders are teens between the age of fifteen and seventeen that have been charged with specific crimes. Allegations of one of the following offenses may result in a child being charged as a Youthful Offender:

  • Second Degree Murder
  • First Degree Manslaughter
  • Shooting with Intent to Kill
  • Discharging a Weapon from a Vehicle
  • Aggravated Assault and Battery on an Officer
  • Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon
  • Maiming
  • Witness Intimidation
  • Assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Armed Robbery & Attempted Armed Robbery
  • First Degree Rape & Attempted First Degree Rape
  • Rape by Instrumentation & Attempted Rape by Instrumentation
  • Second Degree Rape
  • Forcible Sodomy
  • Lew Molestation
  • First Degree Arson & Attempted First Degree Arson
  • First Degree Burglary & Attempted First Degree Burglary
  • Second Degree Burglary, after two or more adjudications
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Drug Manufacturing

See OKLA. STAT. tit. 10A § 2-5-206(A) or (B)

Charged as an Adult

Only in very serious circumstances will a minor be charged as an adult under Oklahoma law, principally Murder in the First Degree. A number of guidelines must be considered in determining whether a child will be tried as an adult or not. The arguments illustrated on the following guidelines by your selected juvenile criminal defense attorney may decide the course of your case. The Court is required by statute to give the most weight to the first three (3) factors:

  • Whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner,
  • Whether the offense was against persons, and if personal injury resulted, the degree of personal injury,
  • The record and past history of the accused person, including previous contacts with law enforcement agencies and juvenile or criminal courts, prior periods of probation and commitments to juvenile institutions,
  • The sophistication and maturity of the accused person and the accused person's capability of distinguishing right from wrong as determined by consideration of the accused person's psychological evaluation, home, environmental situation, emotional attitude and pattern of living,
  • The prospects for adequate protection of the public if the accused person is processed through the youthful offender system or the juvenile system,
  • The reasonable likelihood of rehabilitation of the accused person if the accused is found to have committed the alleged offense, by the use of procedures and facilities currently available to the juvenile court, and
  • Whether the offense occurred while the accused person was escaping or in an escape status from an institution for youthful offenders or juvenile delinquents.

See OKLA. STAT. tit. 10A §2-5-206(F)(4)

Know your Rights and Defend Them

You or your child are entitled to a defense and you need one, if you are facing a juvenile or Youthful Offender charge in Oklahoma. CANNON & ASSOCIATES can assist you and ensure your rights are protected. The system can appear biased against an accused child. Hiring the right law firm will ensure your or your child’s rights are respected from initial investigation through sentencing or trial and everything between. The fact you or your child are charged with a juvenile or Youthful Offender crime in Oklahoma does not mean you or your child will be convicted or sentenced to jail/prison.

Choose an Experienced Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

Contact CANNON & ASSOCIATES in Oklahoma City for your defense. You have the right to the presumption of innocence. John Cannon is a Fierce Advocate for every client and will use his experience and respected reputation to do everything possible to reach the best possible outcome in your juvenile criminal case. John has been recognized as a Top 40 under 40 in Criminal Defense by the National Trial Lawyers Association. Additionally, he has an outstanding record of reaching the best possible outcome for hundreds of clients accused of the wide variety of criminal charges in Oklahoma, including juvenile cases, evidenced by receiving the highest possible AVVO rating – 10 (superb). Contact CANNON & ASSOCIATES today.

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