Tulsa, OK Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

Friday, April 1, 2016

Legislation Proposed to Overhaul Oklahoma Seizure Laws

As practitioners of criminal defense in Oklahoma, we are keenly aware of the search and seizure laws in place in the state. Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement is required to secure a warrant before arresting an individual or seizing alleged contraband. In order to obtain a search warrant, officers must build a case of probable cause based on reliable evidence and/or confidential informants. If law enforcement does not secure a warrant or is unable to articulate probable cause, any evidence found under the auspices of a warrantless search will likely be excluded from use at a subsequent trial.

In Oklahoma, lawmakers are considered a major overhaul of property seizure laws -- even when the seizure is technically lawful under the regulations mentioned above. Currently, once officers seize property using a warrant, the prosecuting attorney makes a decision whether to permanently seize the property (known as forfeiture), which is decided based on whether the prosecutor believes the property was likely to be used for criminal purposes.

In light of the current laws, Oklahoma is considering a measure that would require prosecutors to secure a conviction on the underlying criminal charges before a forfeiture is permissible. This way, prosecutors would be required not just to speculate as to whether the property owner was likely to commit a crime -- but that the property owner actually did commit the alleged crime. In other words, the measure would create an additional buffer for the accused facing a forfeiture of personal property allegedly implicated in a criminal enterprise.

As criminal defense attorneys, we work routinely with clients facing major criminal charges based on questionable evidence and shaky search and seizure issues. If you are facing a difficult criminal charge, please do not hesitate an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.

For assistance with your recent Oklahoma criminal charges, call the Law Offices of Greg Lavender, PLLC today: 918-578-4906.

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