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This content was written for Cale Law office

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In November 2009, the defendant pleaded guilty to actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants. That crime is a misdemeanor. Under a plea agreement, the court deferred the sentence for two years, subject to the defendant’s successful compliance with the standard set of probation conditions. The defendant completed the two-year probationary period without incident in the case was dismissed.

Three years later, the defendant was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants. To increase the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony, the state alleged that the defendant had priestly committed a violation of the driving under influence law is charged and previous case that was dismissed.

The defendant filed a demurrer a motion to dismiss, alleging that the state cannot lawfully enhance the 2012 DUI charge with his plea in the 2009 case because he had successfully completed the terms of the deferred judgment that case. The judge agreed and dismissed the charge. The state appealed. Appeal require the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to interpret statute dealing with driving under the influence, specifically change to the statute which took effect November 1, 2011, between the time that the defendants to prosecutions. At all times relevant to the defendant’s first prosecution, a first UI offense was a misdemeanor. A person faces felony punishment only if he had been convicted a DUI offense within 10 years preceding the commission of the new offense.

The 2011 amendment, however, permitted telling has been not only with the prior conviction for DUI offense but also with a prior plea of guilty or no contest to such offense, even if the plea never resulted in a judgment. In 1970, the legislature created a procedure whereby the court could he further written rendition of judgment in a criminal case for a period of time. Typically, a judgment is deferred in exchange for the defendant’s plea of guilty or no contest, and his agreement to abide by certain conditions were specified. The time. Unlike the district court’s authority to suspended sentence, or judgment guilt is rendered with the execution of the sentence is suspended in whole or part, and conditions of probation, under deferred judgment procedure no judgment guilt is rendered a list and until the defendant violates the terms of the agreement.

If the defendant violates any condition to the deferred judgment procedure, the court may proceed to enter a judgment of guilt. In cases involving a previously made guilty or no contest plea, this requires the court to first accept the plea. On the other hand, a defendant who completes the terms of the deferred judgment agreement is entitled by law to have the entire proceeding including any plea expunged from the record. Furthermore, expungement is expressly declared by the legislature to have retroactive effect.

The 2011 amendment to the DUI statute prompted the state to seek enhanced punishment for the defendants 2012 DUI. It used his guilty plea to a DUI offense in 2009. The state argued that the fact that the defendant had successfully completed his part of the deferred sentence agreement in the prior case was made irrelevant by the intervening changes in the DUI law. The defendant challenged this interpretation under similar theories. First, he argued that treating his 2009 guilty plea is paramount to a conviction violated the basic role statutory construction. What he meant by that was that the statute should not be given retroactive effect to list of language expressly declares otherwise. Alternatively, the defendant argued that the application of the 2011 amendment to the guilty plea made in 2011 nine would violate his constitutional right against ex post facto laws. In its order, the trial court concluded that doing so would constitute ex post facto violation as it increases statutory punishment for the crime, and changes the collateral consequences of the defendant’s plea deferred judgment which he expected presented statutes existing at the time. Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale said that the appellate court agreed with the tenor the district court’s reasoning. However, it reached the same conclusion with a slightly different legal rationale.

Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale said that a law is retroactive the changes the legal consequences of acts completed before its effective date. By redefining what counts as a conviction for the purposes of enhancing to a DUI offense to a felony, the statute at issue changes the legal effect of conduct undertaken by the parties, meaning the state and the defendant, as some time in the past. Before the amendment, and the defendant who pled guilty or no contest to misdemeanor DUI offense pursuant to a deferred sentence agreement, completely rely on the promise of an expungement if he successfully completed probation.

The US Supreme Court addressed a similar situation. In that case, the defendant was Haitian citizen with permanent resident status in the United States. He plea guilty and stay court to a drug offense. Even though the conviction made him deportable under federal immigration law, at the time of the law also gave the US Attorney General discretion to waive deportation and the defendant circumstances. After the defendant entered his plea, Congress enacted new laws which removed the Attorney General’s authority to grant such waivers. The defendant argued that this was unfair to apply the change in immigration law retrospectively to persons had planned guilty reliance of the law that existed the time that pleas. The court stated that retroactive statutes raise special concerns because the governments of much powers to sweep away settled expectations. As a consequence, a presumption against retroactive application of statutes is deeply rooted in American jurisprudence. It embodies a legal doctrine centuries older than the country. Because of this presumption, a statute may not be applied retroactively without a clear indication from the legislative body that it intended such a result.

Plea agreements involve a quid pro quo between a criminal defendant and the government. In that instance, the defendant ways constitutional rights and grants the government tangible benefits, such as avoiding the effort and expense of trial. The US Supreme Court found struggle evidence for concluding that an alien considering whether to enter into a plea agreement was very aware of the immigration consequences of their convictions.

The case at hand concerning DUI involves the defendant who pled guilty to a crime base and certain understanding of possible outcomes. Those outcomes were later altered by law. The appellate court found nothing in the 2011 amendment which clearly declares that the enhancement language at issue is to have retrospective effect. Therefore the amendments redefinition of what constitutes a prior DUI conviction applies only to pleas of guilty or no contest entered after the effective date of the 2011 amendment itself.