With the enactment of a new law, certain types of charges involving allegations of domestic violence will now be classified as violent felonies in Oklahoma. This designation could lead to enhanced sentences with much longer prison terms for people who are convicted of the offenses.

House Bill 3251 was signed into law by Gov. Stitt on May 19. Under this law, violent crimes now include domestic violence offenses involving strangulation, domestic assaults or assaults and batteries involving dangerous weapons, and domestic assaults and batteries with deadly weapons. The bill was passed by an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate and will be effective on Nov. 1.

Some critics believe that the law may conflict with question 805, a measure that might appear on the ballot in November. Question 805 is a sentence reform measure that would ban any sentence enhancements for crimes that were not considered to be violent as of Jan. 1, 2020. Under this measure, people who have been convicted of one or more prior nonviolent felonies could not be given enhanced sentences based on their prior records. Since HB 3251 was not effective as of Jan. 1, 2020, critics argue that it would mean that people who have several domestic violence felonies would not receive enhanced sentences. It is unclear whether question 805 will appear on the ballot. If it does and is passed by voters, habitual domestic violence offenders would not face enhanced sentences.

People who are charged with felony domestic assault or abuse offenses may face long prison sentences and other serious penalties. Getting help from experienced criminal defense lawyers early might give the attorneys more time to build strong defense cases to the charges against their clients. The attorneys may work with investigators to conduct thorough investigations and try to secure favorable resolutions for their clients’ cases.