Security Guards Take Shoplifting Seriously at Oklahoma City Mall

Shoplifting in Oklahoma was once a crime that was treated as a minor inconvenience. Today’s shop owners and managers are vigilant to those trying to leave without paying for merchandise. Such was the case recently when a woman was stopped for allegedly shoplifting at a mall in Oklahoma City. The suspect wound up in a topless tussle with a mall security guard outside the store. Witnesses in the crowd that gathered said that she wriggled out of her shirt while trying to break free of the guard’s grip. She was unsuccessful, and was eventually removed from the mall and taken to jail by police. The shop owner was reportedly present in some of the video footage, looking on and even attempting to assist the mall security officer during the struggle.

Shoplifting is considered larceny in Oklahoma City. When someone attempts to remove up to $500 in merchandise from a store without paying for it, they can be charged with petit larceny or theft. The suspect was accused of trying to hide items inside a shopping bag at a clothing store without paying for them. Several shoppers at the mall recorded the woman in the altercation with the mall guard. Depending on the circumstances, the intent and the results, the half-dressed woman could also be charged with indecent exposure and possibly other infractions.

A criminal defense attorney can help those charged with petit larceny, indecent exposure and other crimes to ensure they are judged fairly under the requirements of the law. In Oklahoma, those charged and convicted of shoplifting can also be held liable in a civil action for the retail price if it can’t be sold at its regular value. The individual can also be responsible for paying court costs and attorney’s fees of the shop owner, a fine, and may also have to perform community service. Those charged and convicted of indecent exposure could face a wide range of punishments, including jail time and fines, depending on whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) national statistics, the shoplifting rate is 3.91 per 100,000 crimes committed in Oklahoma County. The national shoplifting rate is 40.9 per 100,000.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in Oklahoma CIty, call the MK Bailey Law Offices to set up a free consultation appointment.

Understanding Probation vs Parole in Oklahoma

If you or a family member has recently been thrust into a legal situation involving a crime, you might be hearing a lot of terms that are unfamiliar to you. You might have heard of them, but don’t know what they mean. A common confusion for people is the difference between probation and parole. While both rely on good behavior and other conditions to avoid any or additional jail time, they are very different in when they’re applied.

Probation

If you have been charged with a crime in Oklahoma, your criminal defense attorney may be able to help you avoid a jail sentence by suggesting probation instead if you are convicted. It means that if you’re not incarcerated, you must follow certain requirements in order to stay in mainstream society.

Parole

If you have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail time, you may be eligible for parole. You might be allowed to serve a minimum of one-third of your sentence if you were convicted of a non-violent crime. Those convicted of violent crimes can’t be considered for the parole process unless 85 percent of the sentence has been served. While on parole, you are required to follow certain rules after your release from jail.

Requirements

Some conditions exist when probation or parole are granted, depending on the circumstances. If they are not followed, the suspended jail time will be reinstated. Some requirements  include, but are not limited to:

  • Attending classes such as anger management or alcohol education
  • Restriction on associating with others convicted of crimes
  • Reporting regularly to a probation or parole officer
  • Limited freedom on where you are allowed to go
  • Travel restricted to within the state or the country
  • Restriction on associating with certain people
  • Attending counseling or therapy sessions
  • Paying outstanding fees and fines
  • Wearing a tracking bracelet
  • Obeying all laws

If you or a family member is facing or serving jail time, the law offices of M K Bailey may be able to help. Call today at 405-607-1177.

Murder Suspect Files Lawsuit for Violation of Civil Rights

An Oklahoma City man recently filed a lawsuit against Bethany police officers in Oklahoma County, claiming violation of his 4th Amendment, 5th Amendment and 14th Amendment rights. The man was held in jail without bond for more than eight months under a murder charge before the charges were dropped and he was released. The case stems from an October 2011 crime which resulted in his arrest in July of 2012 for a high-profile murder and dismemberment of a 19-year-old woman. He has filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma City federal court against the City of Bethany, the former police chief and two investigating officers. The complaint includes allegations of false arrest and false imprisonment. He is seeking actual and punitive damages.

Allegations

The man alleges in his lawsuit that police made several “deceptive, misleading, manipulative and illegal tactics” in the course of his investigation and arrest. He was falsely accused of murder amid a web of seemingly unreliable police reports, a coerced confession, hidden discovery reports, insufficient evidence, questionable witness veracity and important information which was suppressed during the law enforcement investigation.

Among the notable points in the lawsuit’s allegations of misconduct and cover-ups is that crime investigators withheld the fact that the man was actually in police custody when the murder took place. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation took charge of the murder case in February of 2013. The 39-year-old man and another suspect were released from custody in March of 2013, when the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office dropped the charges against both men. No one else has been arrested for the woman’s murder.

Criminal Defense

One of the roles of an Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer is to ensure that proper procedures are followed and that the rights of the accused are protected. Sometimes the person accused and charged may not have committed the crime chooses to represent themselves in the hopes that justice will prevail. This can be detrimental to their case, especially when the death penalty is a possibility. It takes the skill and know-how of a practiced criminal attorney to sort through the charges, facts, evidence and procedures and build a strong defense.

Inmate Execution Request Stays Denied Despite Lawsuit

Earlier this year, a judge found in favor of two inmates objecting to the secrecy of the details involving lethal injection drugs used for executions in the State of Oklahoma. With help from their Oklahoma lawyers, they questioned the constitutionality of withholding the identity of the pharmaceuticals manufacturers. The two men had filed the lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, and are still awaiting information about the lethal injection drugs used by the state for execution.

The inmates are facing the death penalty, and their executions are scheduled for late April. An Oklahoma Criminal Appeals judge has now denied a request that would provide a stay of execution for the men. As a result, it is likely that the information won’t be disclosed before the men are executed. The Oklahoma Attorney General has appealed the decision against the Department of Corrections, hoping to have it reversed. As a result, he still hasn’t released the information requested about the manufacturer or the pharmaceuticals used for lethal injection.

The state is using a new drug cocktail for executing those convicted of crimes and punished with the death penalty. The state wants to stay in tune with the law currently in place that keeps the identity of the drug manufacturers a secret. The inmates, however, want to know more information about the pharmaceuticals and their manufacturers. The judge who decided in their favor ruled that the drug source should be revealed in the interest of determining whether the drugs are safe to use. This ruling was in direct opposition to a 2011 law that was created to protect pharmaceutical companies from a backlash by those opposed to capital punishment. Drug makers are concerned about boycotts and protests if their identities become public.

The two inmates, who were both convicted of murder and sentenced to death, are concerned about the state using non-FDA approved drugs for lethal injection.  The state ran out of approved pharmaceuticals last month, and is using a substitute cocktail created by a compounding pharmacy. A former inmate noted that he experienced his “whole body burning” after being injected with drugs from a compounding pharmacy at the time of his execution in January.

New Animal Cruelty Legislation Considered in Oklahoma

Oklahoma legislators recently rejected a proposed bill in the Oklahoma State House that would change animal cruelty laws. House Bill 2613 was voted down in the House Judiciary Committee, reaffirming that it’s still illegal to euthanize or kill pets and animals by using firearms. A second piece of legislation, which is pending a committee review, would create an animal abuse registry.

Rep. Steve Martin, (R-Bartlesville) introduced the bill to the state legislature in an effort to exempt people who wish to “dispose” animals by shooting them, stating that this is a humane way for people to euthanize their own animals that are sick, injured or otherwise unsuitable to be pets in another home. The current law only allows animals covered by the proposed bill to be shot in self-defense or if they are a threat to livestock. Any other actions are considered cruelty to animals.

In explaining the reason for proposing HB 2613, Martin stated that he believed it was as painless as the current methods used by shelters, and that people do it “all the time.” Presently, those caught killing animals by firearm can be charged with cruelty to animals, which is a felony under Oklahoma law.

Cruelty to animals is in violation of Oklahoma Statute Title 21, Chapter 67,

Section 1685. It is punishable upon conviction of up to one year in jail or up to a $500 fine. Those caught destroying their own animals as a means of euthanasia may need the assistance of a defense attorney in Oklahoma.

Under the current law, animal shelters are not allowed to use firearms to destroy animals either. They are to use the legal methods of carbon monoxide gas or lethal chemical injection.

State and local animal rights activists from Oklahoma Alliance for Animals spoke out against HB 2613 before it was defeated, citing concerns that it was too broad. They also spoke out in support of another proposed piece of legislation, House Bill 2553.

HB 2553 is authored by Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant) and, if it becomes law, would require those over the age of 18 convicted of animal abuse to register with the county sheriff. Local registration would be required for 15 years, and denies the individual possession, custody, care, control or management of any animal during that time. As part of the proposed bill, the identity of those on the registry would be made available to the public. Oklahoma HB 2553 was addressed by the state legislature in February 2014, then referred to the House Rules Committee for further review.

Proposed Law Could Add Prescription Drugs To Trafficking Charges

A legislative bill recently introduced into the state House of Representatives could drastically change the landscape of the drug crime laws in Oklahoma. If Bill 2589 becomes a law, anyone found carrying large quantities of certain prescription drugs could be charged with trafficking under the Trafficking in Illegal Drugs Act.

Rep. Pat Ownbey, (R-Ardmore) views distribution of prescription medications to those without prescriptions as a significant problem in Oklahoma. Currently, there is no legal distinction between possession of one pharmaceutical pill or hundreds without a valid prescription. Both are considered possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor on the first offense. Upon conviction, it carries a fine of up to $1,000, up to 12 months in prison or both.

The state’s current drug trafficking laws are geared toward substances such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines. House Bill 2589 would target anyone caught carrying mixtures containing morphine, alprazolam, oxycodone and hydrocodone. The current proposal would carry jail time and fines between $100,000 and $500,000 upon conviction for substances measuring 15 grams or more with alpraxolam, also known as Xanax; 50 grams or more with hydrocodone, an ingredient in painkillers and cough medicine; 400 grams or more with oxycodone, an ingredient found in Percocet; or 1,000 grams with morphine. Should it become a law as proposed, it would take effect on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

If you or someone in your family has been charged with possession or trafficking, they will need the services of a drug lawyer in Oklahoma. Call the MK Bailey Law Offices to set up a free initial consultation.

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.