Pursuant to 21 O.S. 142A-2, As a victim of crime, you have the following rights:
- To be notified that a court proceeding to which a victim or witness has been subpoenaed will or will not go on as scheduled, in order to save the person an unnecessary trip to court;
- To receive protection from harm and threats of harm arising out of the cooperation of the person with law enforcement and prosecution efforts, and to be provided with information as to the level of protection available and how to access protection;
- To be informed of financial assistance and other social services available as a result of being a witness or a victim, including information on how to apply for the assistance and services;
- To be informed of the procedure to be followed in order to apply for and receive any witness fee to which the victim or witness is entitled;
- To be informed of the procedure to be followed in order to apply for and receive any restitution to which the victim is entitled;
- To be provided, whenever possible, a secure waiting area during court proceedings that does not require close proximity to defendants and families and friends of defendants;
- To have any stolen or other personal property expeditiously returned by law enforcement agencies when no longer needed as evidence. If feasible, all such property, except weapons, currency, contraband, property subject to evidentiary analysis and property the ownership of which is disputed, shall be returned to the person;
- To be provided with appropriate employer intercession services to ensure that employers of victims and witnesses will cooperate with the criminal justice process in order to minimize the loss of pay and other benefits of the employee resulting from court appearances;
- To have the family members of all homicide victims afforded all of the services under this section, whether or not the person is to be a witness in any criminal proceedings;
- To be informed of any plea bargain negotiations;
- To have victim impact statements filed with the judgment and sentence;
- To be informed if a sentence is overturned, remanded for a new trial or otherwise modified by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals;
- To be informed in writing of all statutory rights;
- To be informed that when any family member is required to be a witness by a subpoena from the defense, there must be a showing that the witness can provide relevant testimony as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant before the witness may be excluded from the proceeding by invoking the rule to remove potential witnesses;
- To be informed that the Oklahoma Constitution allows upon the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board and the approval of the Governor the commutation of any sentence, including a sentence of life without parole;
- To receive written notification of how to access victim rights information from the interviewing officer or investigating detective; and
- To a speedy disposition of the charges free from unwarranted delay caused by or at the behest of the defendant or minor. In determining a date for any criminal trial or other important criminal or juvenile justice hearing, the court shall consider the interests of the victim of a crime to a speedy resolution of the charges under the same standards that govern the right to a speedy trial for a defendant or a minor. In ruling on any motion presented on behalf of a defendant or minor to continue a previously established trial or other important criminal or juvenile justice hearing, the court shall inquire into the circumstances requiring the delay and consider the interests of the victim of a crime to a speedy resolution of the case. If a continuance is granted, the court shall enter into the record the specific reason for the continuance and the procedures that have been taken to avoid further delays.
- Upon preliminary investigation of a domestic violence crime, the first peace officer who interviews the victim of domestic abuse shall assess the potential for danger by asking a series of questions provided on the Lethality Assessment Form.
Restitution in Oklahoma District Courts
Oklahoma State Statutes provide that as part of the sentence or plea agreement, the Court can order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim of the crime. Restitution may only be ordered in cases where evidence is shown to the Court of actual expenses the victim has incurred because of the crime.
Some types of expenses the Court may consider include:
- Property damage resulting from the crime
- Value of property or money stolen that could not be recovered
- Medical, counseling, or dental expenses resulting from the crime
- Loss of income resulting from the crime
- Funeral expenses the family has incurred, if the victim died as a result of the crime
- Other documented expenses resulting from the crime
Restitution cannot be ordered for pain and suffering or for expenses that can’t be documented. However, the judge in the case may order the restitution for up to three times the actual economic loss presented to the Court. This is usually done when the victim has continuing losses from the crime. For example, if the tools of a victim’s trade were stolen, the victim would not only be out the current value of the tools, but the difference between the cost of the used tools and brand new tools, and the loss of income from jobs the victim could not perform without the tools. The judge will consider all these factors when determining the actual amount of restitution to order. In addition, judges have an option to order interest to accrue on the restitution amount until it is paid in full.
A victim presents evidence of loss to the Court by completing a Restitution Recovery Form and providing documentation (bills, insurance statements, pay stubs, etc.) that show the amount of the loss. The Restitution Recovery Form and documentation should be given to the prosecutor or the District Attorney’s Victim Witness Advocate prior to the sentencing date or the date of any plea agreement.
If all or part of the victim’s expenses are paid through a state agency, (i.e. Worker’s Compensation or the Crime Victim Compensation), the judge may decide to order the defendant to pay restitution to those agencies to reimburse them.
How the restitution is collected and distributed varies depending on the county in which the crime was prosecuted and whether the crime was a misdemeanor or felony. Some counties collect all restitution in the District Attorney’s office; others collect restitution through the Department of Corrections or through a Probation and Parole Office. If the defendant must serve time in prison or jail, payment of restitution usually does not begin until the defendant is released on probation or parole. If you have questions about whether restitution was ordered in a criminal case or the status of the payment of the restitution, contact the District Attorney’s Office.
Restitution is not currently available in Oklahoma’s municipal (city) courts, but Federal cases (those prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys) do have provisions for restitution.
For a breakdown of statutes regarding restitution in Oklahoma District Courts, including statute citations, click here.