Stealing Everything Plus the Kitchen Sink Results in Arrests

Stealing packages that include a kitchen sink can get you and your mother in trouble in Oklahoma. A woman and her daughter were recently arrested after a curious neighbor reported seeing one of them remove a package from a nearby home’s front doorstep in Edmond. The pair accused of theft allegedly took parcels containing shoes, baby items, clothing and even a copper kitchen sink with a $400 price tag. One suspect picked up packages from front porches and doorsteps while the other waited in a getaway vehicle on the street. The packages had been reportedly delivered by United Parcel Service (UPS).

How The Package Thieves Were Caught

A self-proclaimed nosy neighbor saw a woman leaving his neighbor’s yard with a large package. When he asked her if she needed help, she ran to a vehicle parked on the street. The neighbor called the police and reported suspicious activity. The vehicle was soon pulled over by police, who found a number of parcels inside addressed to other people, including a copper kitchen sink which a local man had ordered to replace his existing model.

Package Theft Penalties

In Oklahoma, it is considered larceny to take another person’s property by means of stealth or fraud with the intent to deprive that person of their belongings. This is addressed under state statute 21-1701. The value of the item or items stolen dictate the penalty upon conviction. For example, petit larceny or theft applies to items valued up to $500 and can result in a fine between $10 and $500 and/or up to six months in the county jail. Grand larceny has a range of factors, including the theft of items valued at or more than $500. Penalties may include jail time of up to five years, restitution of the item’s value and a fine of up to $5,000.

Wrapping It Up

In this case, one of the suspects had no prior arrest record, while the other has had several run-ins with the law. In both instances, the accused may need the services of a criminal attorney in Oklahoma to sort out the charges and make sure that the investigation against them was conducted properly within the confines of the law.

If you or someone you know has been accused of theft, petit larceny or grand larceny, contact the Law Office of M.K. Bailey to set up an appointment for a free initial consultation.

New Workers’ Compensation Law Changes Claims Procedures

Oklahoma had a new round of changes to workers’ compensation laws take effect on Jan. 1 and Feb. 1, 2014. The lengthy legislation was signed into law in May of 2013, but enactment of portions of the 208-page document was scheduled for different dates. Even then, some of the provisions were delayed in taking effect due to a legal challenge by several parties on the grounds of unconstitutionality. The controversy involved the issue of covering several subjects in one bill. The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently upheld the new law, however, and confirmed its constitutionality.

Following the Changes

The intention of the new legislation was to make it easier and less expensive for both employers and employees by replacing the former system, which some found unfair and confusing.

  • Opting Out – One of the most controversial changes to what has been dubbed a “reform act’ is that employers can now opt out of the workers’ compensation systems if they meet certain requirements. Opponents of the concept say that when an employee is injured on the job and the employer uses opt-out considerations, the employee won’t have the protection of a fair and impartial hearing – something guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Another concern was that some employees would have to pay back workers’ compensation benefits they had already received once they returned to the workforce.
  • Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims – The creation of a new court is another change that is now in full effect for those filing workers’ compensation claims in Oklahoma. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims will now be the forum for related cases, and falls under Title 85 of the state statutes. While not imperative, the need for Oklahoma attorneys who understand the laws and procedures will help claimants receive the benefits they should be entitled to when injured on the job. The court has 10 judges who hear and rule on contested cases as well as proposed workers’ compensation settlements. This includes self-insurance and medical fee schedules. Those making claims must follow a strict set of rules and conditions in order to qualify for compensation benefits. There is also a procedure in place for appeals to the new court’s decisions.
  • New Website – The Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission was required to launch a website by Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 to provide claimants, business owners and other professionals with important information. It is now live, and can be found at www.owcc.state.ok.us.

Read more about the new regulation in our previous M.K. Bailey Law Offices blog entitled “New Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Law Stirs Up Controversy.”

Tax Break May Reduce Foster Home Shortage for Kids of Parents In Jail

For parents who have been arrested for crimes in Oklahoma, there may be concern over who will care for their children if they are convicted and must serve jail time. If these children don’t have relatives or other family members able to care for them, the kids may enter the foster care system. This may also be an issue if parents are in jail pending a criminal trial. New legislation in the form of House Bill 1919 went into effect on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 that may help to bolster the number of available foster homes.

2014 Tax Incentive

The new law will give foster parents in Oklahoma a break when they file their 2014 income tax returns. The deductions of $2,500 for foster parents filing single and $5,000 for foster parents filing a joint return may help to defray some of the costs involved in providing temporary homes for children whose parents are unfit or unable to care for them due to domestic abuse, incarceration or situations that put the children at risk. The Department of Human Services (DHS) reports that more than 11,000 children are in foster care in Oklahoma, but only about 4,000 registered foster homes in the system.

Finding Solutions

The shortage of foster homes in Oklahoma has long been a matter of concern for legislators, taxpayers, foster families and parents whose children have been placed into the system.

According to the Children of Incarcerated Parents Task Force, there are more than 26,000 children whose parents are in Oklahoma prisons, not including county jails, federal correctional facilities or rehabilitation facilities. For children without family members available to take them in, the addition of tax deductions as incentives for foster families should help to alleviate the shortage of care while their parents are serving sentences.

The new tax credit may help to ease the financial burden on existing foster families, as well as attract new foster parents to the program. DHS reported a record number of applications in 2013, although a shortage of workers to process the applications has made the approval process a slow one. The agency recently hired 600 more child welfare workers, but there is still a personnel shortage resulting in a significant lag in response time. Additionally, some adoption agencies are now working to place eligible foster children in permanent homes.

Getting Away From It All Can Lead to Bigger Problems, Criminal Charges

If you’re unhappy and you’re thinking about getting away from it all, be careful how you do it. One woman from Fletcher, Okla., faked her own kidnapping and now has a criminal record as a result. Nearly four years after walking away from her life without telling anyone where she was going, the woman recently appeared on ABC’s “20/20″ to tell her story full of unexpected twists and turns. She didn’t expect her family or her fiancé to be frantic when she disappeared, causing them to report her missing. In the end, her distress about an upcoming wedding and being unhappy about her lot in life cost the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation a reported $34,000 and 685 man-hours while they covered 6,500 miles looking for her. She was found a month later safe and sound, then arrested and charged with false reporting of a crime and unauthorized use of a vehicle. She served some jail time and is still paying back the money spent on her case.

What Happened?

She had simply driven away in her then-fiancé’s pick-up truck and pawned some jewelry before heading to Texas. When she found out a few days later that she’d been reported missing, the woman panicked and sent a fake text message to her then- fiancé requesting help and implying that she was being held against her will, kidnapped. In Oklahoma, it’s a misdemeanor to knowingly make a false report of a crime that results in a law enforcement investigation or action. Upon conviction under Oklahoma Statue Title 21, Section 589, you can be jailed for 90 days and fined up to $500 or both. In this case, the woman was sentenced to jail time served and she was ordered to pay back the money spent on the search for her in lieu of additional jail time. She was also charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle which, under Title 47, Section 4-102, is a felony that carries a penalty

Kidnapping Charges

Her fiancé at the time was a suspect in the investigation of her supposed kidnapping. Of course, once the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation discovered that she was fine and the report was false, he was cleared of all wrongdoing. However, if she had not surfaced and he was arrested and convicted of felony kidnapping, he could have been facing up to 20 years in prison.

The Oklahoma court system takes reports of kidnapping seriously. In this case, the woman’s desire to get away from it all quickly escalated into a criminal investigation against her fiancé. Criminal lawyers in Oklahoma can help those charged with offenses such as false reporting of a crime, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and kidnapping. If you or someone in your family is in trouble with the law, call the MK Bailey Law Offices in Oklahoma City for a free initial consultation.

Oklahoma Commission Halts Requests for Capitol Grounds Monuments

The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission recently voted to cease accepting requests from religious groups that want to erect monuments on the Oklahoma Statehouse grounds in Oklahoma City. This decision came after the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit requesting the removal of a monument from the grounds depicting the Ten Commandments.

The privately funded monument of the Ten Commandments was commissioned in 2009 by the Oklahoma State Legislature and the project was signed into law. Since then, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission has received countless applications and requests from other groups, including a Hindu organization in Nevada, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and a Satanic Temple from New York, requesting the placement of monuments at the same site.

According to a report published in USA Today, a representative from the ACLU has stated that if one religious monument is allowed to be placed at the Statehouse, then monuments representing other religions should also be allowed. As a result, the Oklahoma attorneys filing the lawsuit are requesting that the monument beside the steps of the building be taken down.

Oklahoma Sees Rise in Marijuana Cases With Legalization in Colorado

Every state has its own set of laws. What’s legal in Colorado isn’t necessarily legal in Oklahoma. Law enforcement officials in Oklahoma are seeing a rise in marijuana possession and use since the bordering state of Colorado recently legalized marijuana for recreational use. The law took effect on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.  Adults 21 and over in Colorado can purchase the drug, but it’s still illegal to possess it in Oklahoma.

The sheriff in Cimarron County recently stated that there has been a steady stream of marijuana flowing into Oklahoma from bordering Colorado for years. A spokesperson from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control said that after the drug was legalized for medical use in Colorado in 2010, there was a definite rise in activity in Oklahoma shortly thereafter. Trafficking from the northwest corner of the state is also expected to filter into Oklahoma City and Tulsa, despite the fact that it’s still illegal.

Oklahoma carries a zero tolerance policy for drug-related crimes. The state’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws were changed last year to include DUI if marijuana is present in the bloodstream, even if alcohol is not. A DUI defense lawyer in Oklahoma can help to make sure that the accused is treated fairly. The same holds true for anyone arrested and charged with drug possession or drug trafficking. For example, someone found in possession of 25 pounds of marijuana can be charged with trafficking. Those in possession of more than that can face aggravated trafficking charges. The sentencing guidelines depend on the amount and type, the probability of intent to distribute and whether any other drugs are involved.

If you or someone in your family is arrested for drug possession charges of marijuana or other substances, it’s important to get a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. It’s also important to have one who is well-versed in drug cases. If you need a drug possession attorney, call 405-607-1177 to set up an appointment with the M.K. Bailey Law Offices.

8th Amendment Rights At the Center of Appeal In Okla. Murder Case

A case that could set a new precedent in Oklahoma was recently appealed by the state on a federal appeals court ruling. In question is the legal right of a murder victim’s family to be involved in the sentencing phase of the trial. The topic is one of interest for Oklahoma City criminal defense attorneys, who challenge whether the process meets the requirements of the law or violate the defendant’s 8th Amendment rights.

The potentially precedent-setting decision involves a 1994 double murder case in Edmond, where an Oklahoma man was convicted of killing his neighbors. Although convictions in the case were originally set aside on an appeal, the man was retried and convicted. The lower court allowed testimony from relatives of the victims to become involved in the sentencing phase of the trial. The relatives had recommended the death penalty. The defendant received two death sentences and appealed the decision in 2006. The case was recently decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

The man’s criminal defense attorney questioned the legality of allowing parties who are very close to the case and who may not be impartial to assist in assigning punishment in the case. This raised the legal issue of whether the defendant’s Eighth Amendment rights, which include protection from cruel and unusual punishment, were violated due to improper victim-impact evidence. As a result, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a ruling in mid-September, ordering that the man be resentenced. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office has now appealed this ruling. A date has not yet been announced for a hearing regarding the new appeal.

The ‘Knockout Game’ Spurs Potential Change in Oklahoma Assault Laws

Bobby Cleveland (R) of the Oklahoma State legislature plans to introduce a new bill during the next session that would be proactive against a rising trend among teens. Gaining popularity throughout the country, it’s called the “knockout game.” Players sucker punch a random bystander on the street in an attempt to knock them out. A fellow player records the attack on video. The results are often posted online through various social media outlets. Victims of the game do not provoke the attack and are typically walking by themselves or standing alone in a public place. Severe injuries and two deaths have been associated with this activity. Cleveland has announced that he doesn’t want to wait for an attack linked to the knockout game to take place in Oklahoma before legislation is pursued.

Currently, a sucker punch by a minor in Oklahoma is considered assault and battery, a misdemeanor. If charged as adults and convicted, teens currently can face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if it doesn’t involve the use of a dangerous weapon and doesn’t result in serious bodily injury. If it does result in serious bodily injury or is levied against an elderly or incapacitated person, it can be considered a felony and is punishable upon conviction with up to five years in prison. If a bill intended to curb this behavior is adopted by Oklahoma State Legislature, the penalties could be more severe. A statement by Cleveland noted that his proposed bill would increase the penalty for an unprovoked attack to a minimum of 10 years in prison, and any minors would be tried as adults.

Members of the New York General Assembly are already moving in this direction after at least two recent attacks took place in Brooklyn. The knockout game has been documented or caught on surveillance tapes in several states, including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

The Oklahoma City Police Department has reportedly received several phone calls asking about any local game-related assaults, but as yet are unaware if any of the hundreds of assault reports filed every month in Oklahoma City are linked to this new fad. Related or not, those charged with assault and battery may need the services of an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney to ensure that any investigation and charges have been properly handled and correctly filed through the legal system.

Oklahoma City Puts Freeze on Outdoor Water Usage

Oklahoma City officials are taking water conservation ordinances seriously. The municipality recently issued a reminder that anyone living or working in Oklahoma City who waters their lawns with city water using an irrigation or sprinkler system when the outside temperature is 32 degrees F or below will receive a citation and a fine.

The Progressive Water Conservation Program is an initiative designed to minimize water waste as well as reduce the amount of ice on city streets. Those found watering their properties during freezing temperatures or who violate the odd-even watering schedule regulations are subject to stiff fines and court costs incurred as a result of the citations.

The conservation citations have teeth, and are addressed in the Oklahoma City Municipal Code, Section 33-63. In addition to $83 in court fees, offenders receive a fine of $119 for the first violation; $269 for the second violation; and, $519 for the third violation.

Oklahoma City’s permanent year-round watering Stage 1 schedule applies to the resident’s address. A watering can or hand-watering is permissible. Even-numbered addresses can water only on even-numbered calendar days, while odd-numbered addresses can water only on odd-numbered days. No one can water on days when the temperature is freezing or below. In case of drought, higher levels of water conservation are enacted. For more information about the city’s enforcement policy, call the Oklahoma City Utilities Department at 297-2833.

Stealing Milk and Cookies Can Lead to Larceny Charges

There are different degrees of burglary in Oklahoma. Depending on the value of the property and the circumstances of the incident, you may face additional charges, such as larceny. Such was the recent case of a woman who allegedly crawled through a lower level window into an Oklahoma City home.

The homeowner reportedly came into the kitchen at 6:30 a.m. and found an uninvited woman sitting at the kitchen table, snacking on milk and cookies. The suspect wasn’t wearing any pants. The homeowner then left the room for a moment while summoning her husband from another room. When the homeowners came back into the kitchen, the suspect was gone, along with some pepper jack cheese and pesto sauce, some cash and jewels. The suspect’s pants were found outside the window.

The Oklahoma City Police investigated and caught up with the suspect, charging her with first-degree burglary and petit larceny. In Oklahoma, breaking into someone’s home using force and the intention of illegally gaining possession of their property is considered burglary. Those convicted of first-degree burglary can receive seven to 20 years of prison time. A lesser charge is referred to as second-degree burglary and is punishable with a prison term of two to seven years.

Larceny is defined by the Oklahoma Penal Code as taking personal property from another via stealth or fraud with the intention to deprive that person of it. When removed from a place, the value of the object is what determines petit larceny or grand larceny. Property valued over $500 or taking property from someone’s person under $500 is grand larceny. All other cases are referred to as petit larceny, a misdemeanor. Petit larceny is punishable with a fine of $10 to $500, up to six months in jail or a combination of both.

If you or a loved one has been charged with burglary, larceny or other crimes, contact the OKC lawyers at M.K. Bailey Law Offices to learn how they can help. The first consultation is free. Call (405) 607-1177 to set up an appointment.