Just under two years ago, Oklahoma made simple drug possession a misdemeanor and eliminated the possibility of enhanced penalties for repeat offenses. As a result, some criminal defendants are ignoring the severity of certain drug possession offenses and WHERE they are when law enforcement discovers the crime.
Take this hypothetical into consideration: You are stopped on I-35 by Oklahoma City PD. You have a warrant for unpaid speeding tickets, so the officer arrests you and takes you into custody. When the arresting officer initially pats you down, they miss the joint you have on your person. You think, “They’ll find it when we get to the jail. No big deal!” You are taken to jail where you are required to surrender your clothes in order to don some fly orange prison swag. When you take your clothes off to change, the joint falls on the ground.
Yup. Law enforcement found the joint! But that is no big deal because of Oklahoma’s criminal reform laws, right?
Instead of simple possession, you are now charged with being an inmate with contraband in a jail or prison under 57 O.S. 21(B), a felony punishable with up to 20 years. As soon as you cross the threshold of the county jail, or any other jail or prison, with an illegal substance you have committed a felony.
Very rarely does an attorney tell their client that it is a good idea to tell the police anything when it comes to the commission of a crime. However, considering the dire consequences of bringing something into a jail or prison, this an exception to the “don’t talk to the police” mantra.
As a defendant, navigating the courts with possession, or any drug charge for that matter, is easier than explaining to a judge or jury why you decided it was a good idea to bring drugs into a secured facility. The dilemma for a defendant is excruciating in this unique set of circumstances, but it is far better to admit to a simple misdemeanor than to commit a felony. Choose wisely and always seek out an attorney as soon as possible when facing criminal charges.