Law Blog

PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys

I’ve Been Arrested. Now What?

January 29th, 2015

Unless you have been arrested and charged with a crime before, you likely have no idea what to expect from the process ahead of you. Even if you have been arrested before, the process may be different if you were previously charged with a misdemeanor and now you are charged with a felony.

In order to fully understand what to expect after an arrest, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help with bond reduction, getting you out of jail. A lawyer can ensure that your constitutional rights are protected during the investigation and any hearings or trial. Perhaps most importantly, your defense attorney can give you the counsel necessary to make the wisest decisions regarding your case–whether that means negotiating a plea for a lower sentence or vigorously defending your innocence before a jury.

Until you contact a lawyer about the specific details of your case, the following infographic gives you an idea of what you may expect in a criminal case, from the arrest through trial.

Contact us for more information or for a confidential, risk-free consultation with an experienced defense lawyer.
Criminal Court Process

Tulsa Man Arrested for Rape of 13-Year-Old

January 27th, 2015

A 19-year-old Tulsa man was arrested last night after police were called to a local hospital to investigate the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl.

When police arrived at Hillcrest Medical Center, they were told that the girl was in a “catatonic state” with multiple injuries consistent with rape.

Police interviewed the girl’s sister, who reportedly told them that the 13-year-old girl met her attacker on Facebook. On Sunday, he came to the girl’s home.

They say Abraham Bucio-Bucio asked the girl for sex, but she refused his request several times. Bucio-Bucio then allegedly raped her.

Police say after he left, he sent the girl an apology via Snapchat. When he was interviewed by police on Monday, they say he initially said that he believed the girl was 18, but they discovered that he had deleted text messages from her, he admitted that he knew she was only 13.

Abraham Bucio-Bucio, known as “King Pekas Bucio” on his Facebook profile, was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on complaints of first degree rape and lewd molestation of a minor under 16. He is held on $100,000 bond.

It is important to note that even if the suspect did truly believe the girl involve was 18 years old (or even 16 years old, which is the age of consent in Oklahoma), the crime of which he is accused is still first degree rape.

Included among the seven specific acts of first degree rape delineated in 21 O.S. 1114 are the following:

  • rape committed by a person over eighteen (18) years of age upon a person under fourteen (14) years of age, and
  • rape accomplished with any person by means of force, violence, or threats of force or violence accompanied by apparent power of execution regardless of the age of the person committing the crime

In other words, because the alleged victim is only 13-years-old, an act of sexual intercourse with anyone over the age of 18 is first degree rape, regardless of whether the minor provided verbal consent to the act. Even in the case of statutory rape, in which a minor aged 14 or 15 gives apparent consent to sex with an adult, ignorance of the age of the minor is not a defense.

However, in this case, the girl is not alleged to have consented; rather, it is alleged to be a forcible rape. Forcible rape is always first degree rape, regardless of the age of the victim.

Oklahoma does not look kindly on first degree rape. By statute, conviction is punishable by death; however, the United States Supreme Court has ruled the death penalty is unconstitutional for any offense other than aggravated murder. Because the state is not allowed to execute those convicted of first degree rape, the penalty is 5 years to life without parole.

Additionally, first degree rape is a Level III sex offense requiring lifetime sex offender registration and all of the restrictions associated with sex offender status in Oklahoma.

iCloud Selfies Lead to iPad Theft Arrest

January 23rd, 2015

Some people just can’t resist the urge to take a selfie. For a pair of alleged thieves in Houston, that impulse led to their arrest.

Early this month, a man reported to police that his truck had been burglarized, and that the thieves took thousands of dollars in cash and electronics including a laptop, a radar detector, and an iPad from the vehicle.

Later, the man checked his iCloud account and noticed that the alleged thieves had used the iPad to take selfies that showed two men posing with several hundred dollar bills.

© Randy Schaefer/AP Photo

© Randy Schaefer/AP Photo

The theft victim believes that when the stolen property was dumped behind a local Starbucks, his device connected with the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi connection and synced the images to his iCloud account.

The two men even bragged in a video, which one uploaded to his own Facebook page, “This, my good people, is what we get from a good night’s hustle.

The video and the damning selfies were taken at a local Burger King, just two miles from the victim’s house. The Facebook profile was deleted after a friend commented on the posted video, “Yo deactivate yur page n*** yu hot.”

Police distributed the images over social media, and the two men were identified as Dorian Walker-Gaines, 20, and Dillian Thompson, 22.

Both men were arrested on felony theft complaints. As of this writing, both men remain in jail. Walker-Gaines is held on $10,000 bond, and Thompson is held on $5,000.

Ironically, Walker-Gaines has a tattoo across his chest that reads, “Brilliant.”

You would think that criminals would learn that uploading selfies of their crimes is a bad idea, but it seems to be a lesson they are slow in learning:

  • Last month, police in Palm Beach arrested two people after they posed with stolen cash and uploaded the picture to Instagram.
  • In July 2014, a woman in Illinois was arrested after she allegedly shoplifted a dress and then posted a picture of herself wearing the stolen outfit on Facebook, saying, “Love my new dress.”
  • In August 2014, two people in Missouri were arrested after they allegedly let their friend die of a drug overdose, then posed with his corpse and uploaded the pictures to Facebook before dumping the man’s body.
  • In February 2014, police in Chula Vista, California, arrested a suspect in a string of church burglaries after they discovered a cell phone at the scene which contained selfies of the man.

Social media can be a prosecutor’s best friend, even if the defendant doesn’t upload selfies of himself or herself actively engaged in crime.  This month, a man already in a Louisiana jail for attempted murder had additional charges filed against him, after a search of his Facebook page uncovered a selfie of him wearing the exact same outfit he was wearing on surveillance camera during a robbery.

Your Miranda Rights inform you that anything you say can AND WILL be used against you. That extends to anything you post and upload on social media as well.

Tulsa Teen Charged with Human Trafficking

January 19th, 2015

An 18-year-old Tulsa man was arrested last week and jailed on multiple complaints, including human trafficking.

According to reports, police responded to a complaint that a man threatened to shoot his girlfriend and her mother. They arrested Dashawn Patrick Hervey, 18, on complaints of domestic assault and battery with a deadly weapon and threatening a violent act.

However, during their investigation, police allegedly discovered that Hervey had forced two minor girls to have sex with multiple other men in exchange for money, and that he confiscated the money after the acts were complete. As a result, he is also jailed on two complaints of human trafficking. He is held in lieu of bond, set at $25,000 for each of the domestic violence charges and at $100,000 for each of the human trafficking charges.

Hervey also has another felony domestic violence case pending in Tulsa County District Court. In October, he was charged with domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

He was also the subject of a protective order filed against him in 2011, when he was still a juvenile.

Human trafficking may take the form of forced labor or forced prostitution. In sex trafficking, a person is said to be the victim of human trafficking if he or she is forced or coerced into prostitution or commercial sex acts through the threat of violence or other coercive measures which do not allow the trafficked person a way out.

In Hervey’s case, he is accused of threatening the minor girls with harm if they did not comply with his demands to engage in prostitution, and he is accused of taking all proceeds of the commercial sex act.

Additionally, according to Oklahoma law, any person under the age of 18 who is found to be engaging in prostitution is considered to be a victim of human trafficking. Even though the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, under both state and federal law, no one under 18 can legally consent to engaging in any commercial sex act, including pornography, exotic dancing, or prostitution. In fact, 21 O.S. 748 specifically states, “The consent of a victim to the activity prohibited by this section shall not constitute a defense.”

Learn more about human trafficking in Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, human trafficking is a felony punishable by 5 years to life in prison and a $100,000 fine; however, if the victim is under the age of 18, the crime is punishable by a minimum of 15 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Inmate Executed, Another Denied Appeal in Child Murder Cases

January 16th, 2015

Last night, Oklahoma put to death its first inmate since the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April 2014. Charles Warner, who filed a death penalty lawsuit against the state along with Lockett, was scheduled to die the same day as his co-plaintiff, but his execution date was postponed after Lockett’s execution went wrong.

You may remember that a malfunction in an IV line led to improper administration of the lethal injection cocktail. The state called a halt to the execution, and Lockett died of a heart attack approximately 43 minutes after being injected with death penalty drugs.

Lockett’s execution was the first in the state to use midazolam, the same drug that was used in the execution of Dennis McGuire, who took 15 minutes to die in Ohio. It was also used in the execution of Arizona death row inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood, who was injected with the states lethal injection cocktail 15 times and took 2 hours to die.

Charles Warner and other death row inmates have protested the use of midazolam, saying the drug presented a risk of pain and suffering in violation of the Constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The United States Supreme Court refused to consider the case of whether a sedative would be sufficient to prevent an inmate from feeling pain when the other drugs used in the cocktail stopped his or her heart and lungs.

Warner was executed last night, with reports saying that it took 18 minutes for him to die. He was declared dead at 7:28 p.m. on January 15, 2015.

Warner received the death penalty for the rape and murder of an 11-month old girl. The girl’s mother, alternately described in media reports as Warner’s girlfriend (which she denies) or roommate, left her daughter in Warner’s care. When she returned home, the baby was unresponsive. At the hospital, doctors discovered signs of horrific trauma, including brain injuries, broken ribs, and anal tearing.

Warner was convicted of the 1997 murder in 1999. He was granted a new trial, but subsequently convicted again in 2003.

In another child abuse murder case, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals yesterday rejected the appeal of Freddy Mendez and upheld his conviction and life sentence.

Mendez, 27, was convicted of the 2011 murder of 3-year-old Alexis Hawkins. The little girl died after being thrown to the ground, punched, and kicked. The girl’s mother, Victoria Phanhtharath, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for enabling child abuse, but her sentence was modified after a judge heard her testimony against Mendez.

Teen Accused of Murdering Family Transferred to Prison for Credit Card Fraud

January 12th, 2015

A deferred sentence is a way to stay out of jail or prison and avoid a criminal conviction. It is often granted to first offenders and those accused of minor, nonviolent offenses. Instead of being convicted and sent to prison, the defendant is allowed to serve probation. As long as he or she complies with the terms of probation – not breaking any other laws, staying away from known criminals, paying court costs and fines, performing community service, getting drug or alcohol treatment, etc. – when the probation is over, the guilty plea is changed to “not guilty” and the case is dismissed.

If, however, a person violates probation, the District Attorney will file a Motion to Accelerate sentencing. If granted, the Motion to Accelerate ends the deferment of sentencing, the judge finds the defendant guilty of the crime, and he or she is sentenced according to the statutory guidelines for the crime. There is no “credit for time served” in probation.

What are some ways a person under a deferred judgement can get the probation revoked and the sentencing accelerate? By failing to get court-ordered treatment, by failing to pay court costs or fines, by refusing to participate in mandatory community service, or by committing another crime, such as DUI, marijuana possession, or murdering his entire family.

In August 2013, Alan Hruby, then 18 years old, was charged in Stephens County with taking and using his grandmother’s credit card without authorization. Hruby admitted on social media to being materialistic, wanting to continually shop and buy expensive things.

Several months later, in January 2014, Hruby entered a guilty plea in the credit card fraud case in exchange for participation in the delayed sentencing program for young adults.

It seems like a good plan. A materialistic kid does something stupid like stealing his grandmother’s credit card, and instead of sentencing him to prison, the court allows him the opportunity to make amends while serving probation in the community. A little thing shouldn’t ruin someone’s entire life.

But then, in October 2014, Alan Hruby allegedly traveled from school at the University of Oklahoma to his parents’ home in Duncan. Investigators say he methodically and without warning shot and killed his father, his mother, and his  little sister–all for the sake of being the only survivor to collect inheritance from his parents.

Upon his arrest and first degree murder charges in the triple-homicide, the Stephens County District Attorney filed a Motion to Accelerate judgement in Hruby’s credit card fraud case.

On December 3, 2014, Stephens County District Judge Joe H. Enos accepted Hruby’s earlier guilty plea and sentenced him to 3 years in prison, a $1,500 fine, and $5,980.42 in restitution to be paid within 6 months of the completion of his sentence.

Hruby was given no credit for time served as he remains jailed on three first-degree murder charges. On Friday, Hruby was transferred from the Stephens County jail to state prison to begin his sentence for credit card fraud.

His preliminary hearing for the three murder charges is schedule for June.

Edmond Man Charged with 67 Counts Involving Sexual Abuse and Child Pornography

January 8th, 2015

An Oklahoma man under investigation for aggravated possession of child pornography in Stillwater has been arrested and charged in Oklahoma County District Court with 67 criminal counts related to sex crimes involving minors.

William Joe Pate, 30, of Edmond, is currently held on $670,000 bond in the Oklahoma County Jail, charged with the following crimes:

Reports say that Stillwater police investigating child pornography identified Pate as a suspect when they tracked an IP address to his home. Edmond police served a search warrant at the man’s home, where they allegedly uncovered more than 3,000 images of child pornography, including 2,345 images, 905 videos, and 57 clandestine videos taken of young males as they showered in the man’s home.

Additionally, a 14-year-old boy, who was friends with another young boy over whom Pate had legal guardianship, told police that he had sexual contact with the the man at Pate’s home and that he had sex with the suspect at an area hotel.

Pate’s accuser is reportedly a foster child. DHS says that the man passed all background checks to be approved for overnight visits with the boy, but that he is not now, nor has he ever been, a foster parent or DHS employee.

The charges against Pate are serious. Child sexual abuse and aggravated possession of child pornography are felonies. Both are punishable by a maximum of life in prison.

Aggravated possession of child pornography is a Level I sex offense. In Oklahoma, anyone convicted of this crime must register as a sex offender for 15 years.

Child sexual abuse is a Level III sex offense. Oklahoma mandates lifetime sex offender registration for anyone convicted of a Level III sex crime.

While being a peeping tom, or loitering or hiding to spy on someone who has a reasonable expectation of privacy, is a misdemeanor, secretly photographing or taking video of someone for the purpose of the viewer’s sexual gratification and in a place where the subject of the video has a reasonable expectation of privacy is a felony:

B. Every person who uses photographic, electronic or video equipment in a clandestine manner for any illegal, illegitimate, prurient, lewd or lascivious purpose with the unlawful and willful intent to view, watch, gaze or look upon any person without the knowledge and consent of such person when the person viewed is in a place where there is a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy, or who publishes or distributes any image obtained from such act, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony. The violator shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term of not more than five (5) years, or by a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment. 21 O.S. § 1171(B)

With a maximum of 5 years in prison, the sentence for those 57 counts could add up quickly.

Jury Selection Begins in Etan Patz Murder Trial

January 5th, 2015

Stranger abductions are rare. Of the approximately 800,000 children reported missing in 1999, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the overwhelming majority were either runaways or children who had simply failed to communicate their whereabouts to their parents. About a quarter of children reported missing are abducted by a family member, typically a non-custodial parent. Another 58,000 were abducted by non-family members.

Of those 800,000 missing children, only 115 were the victims of the random, stranger abductions we often think of when we hear the term “kidnapping.” In these cases, a child was taken by a stranger, abducted with the intent to kill or keep the child. In more than three-quarters of these cases, according to 2006 statistics, the abducted child was dead within three hours of being kidnapped.

The chances of an American child becoming the victim of a “stereotypical” kidnapping is astronomically small. The NCMEC reports that approximately 100 children are murdered in an abduction each year, compared with a U.S. child population of 73.6 million.

Yet even though these cases are rare, they are particularly terrifying for parents and children. Every time a kidnapping occurs, we are reminded of the how quickly just such a nightmare can unfold.

Some 35 years after the previously unsolved kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz, a suspect will have his day in court. Etan went missing while walking to the school bus stop in 1979.

Jury selection began today in the trial of Pedro Hernandez, who three years ago confessed to killing the boy.

Hernandez became a suspect in the disappearance only after police received a tip in 2012.

He told investigators that he choked Etan and put him in a plastic bag while he was still alive. He then put the bag containing the boy’s body in a box and dumped it on the street.

 

Attorneys for Hernandez say their client’s confession is false, triggered by the man’s mental illness and low IQ. They say he had nothing to do with the boy’s disappearance.

The case of Etan Patz was one of the first highly publicized abductions. He was among the first missing children to appear on milk cartons, and the anniversary of his abduction is marked by National Missing Children’s Day.

Just two years after little Etan disappeared, another 6-year-old boy, Adam Walsh, was abducted from a department store just a few feet from where his mother shopped.

Etan’s body has never been found. Adam’s severed head was found two weeks after his abduction.

Though no one was convicted of Adam Walsh’s murder, police in 2008 said the case was closed, convinced that his killer was Ottis Toole, a convicted serial killer who confessed to killing the boy but later recanted. Toole died in prison in 1996.

These cases and others like them have triggered legislation, including sex offender registration requirements, to help prevent child abductions.

Woman Arrested after Fleeing Police and Crashing with Infant in Vehicle

January 1st, 2015

A Stillwater woman was arrested in Norman Tuesday after attempting to flee police after a traffic stop. As she sped away, she crashed the vehicle, which had an infant inside.

Reports say the baby was uninjured but was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

The scene unfolded before noon on Tuesday when Norman police conducted an apparently routine traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle allegedly gave police false identification, but was soon identified as Bethany Shores, 24–a woman with an outstanding warrant from Logan County.

Shores is wanted in Logan County on multiple drug charges, including two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled dangerous drug and one count each of unlawful possession of a controlled drug within 10,000 feet of a school, maintaining a house where drugs are kept, and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

The bench warrant for her arrest was issued in early November 2013 after Shores failed to appear for a court date.

When the Norman police officer identified the driver as Bethany Shores, the woman fled, attempting to evade arrest. She led police on a brief chase before failing to negotiate a turn, crashing and rolling the vehicle onto its side.

Shores was arrested and booked into the Cleveland County jail on complaints of driving under suspension, attempting to elude a police officer, obstruction, outstanding warrant, and child endangerment.

If you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest, attempting to flee or evade police is never the best option. Certainly, you may be scared and worried about what your arrest might mean, particularly if the charges you face are serious. However, when you fail to appear in court or otherwise attempt to evade arrest, you are typically living on borrowed time. Your arrest could come at any time. The simplest traffic violation could lead to your detection and arrest, and if you attempt to elude police by fleeing the traffic stop, you will only pile additional charges onto the ones you currently face.

Rather than trying to hide or to run, your best option is to go directly to your attorney who can negotiate the most favorable circumstances for your surrender. Your cooperation will do you more favors in your case than would breaking more laws in an attempt to avoid arrest.

To find out how a failure to appear can lead to a bench warrant for your arrest, or for help dealing with outstanding warrants, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you make the right choices in handling your case.

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PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys