A Tulsa woman, who said she’s been assaulted in domestic violence situations by two men in the last year, is worried about what the passage of State Question 805 will mean for other domestic violence survivors.
Tiffany Fiedler said she feels like the justice system forgets about the victims. She’s now concerned that if voters pass State Question 805, it will only hurt others like her because domestic violence will be considered a non-violent crime.
Fiedler said she's been strangled and burned by her ex-boyfriend, then said her ex-husband broke her collar bone. She said she's worried if State Question 805 will give criminals the punishment they deserve.
Related Story: Oklahoma Voters To Decide On State Question 805
Supporters of 805 said people convicted of domestic violence will still be punished.
"Abusers tell you they won't believe you. They won't listen to you. That's exactly how I feel, who is listening to me,” said Fiedler.
Fiedler said her ex-boyfriend strangled her and poured hot coffee on her. Records show he was given an 18-month deferred sentence and ordered to do community service.
Fiedler said her ex-husband caused her to wreck on her bike, where she broke her collar bone, but she said no charges have been filed against him.
Fiedler said she’s worried State Question 805 will only make life worse for victims like her.
Domestic violence is listed as a non-violent crime in Oklahoma and if 805 passes, a person who’s committed the same crime several times, cannot get a longer prison sentence than someone who’s done it once.
"That bothers me because they are definitely violent,” Fiedler. “I have scars all over my body proving it. I have surgeries proving they are violent.”
Supporters said 805 is about ensuring non-violent offenders don’t get lengthy sentences.
"This simply establishes a range of punishment for all non-violent crimes. That's all it does. It starts the process of bringing our sentences for non-violent offenders more in line with the national average,” said Kris Steele with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
Steele said the goal is to safely reduce prison populations and putting money toward things that improve quality of life in Oklahoma.
He said safeguards are still in place to make sure people who harm others will be punished.
"If it is determined that 10 years in prison is not sufficient for a person who commits domestic violence, the legislature maintains the authority to increase that range of punishment,” said Steele.
You can read the full text of State Question 805 below.
(Note: This forever locks in the meaning of violent crime in paragraph C to only as defined Jan 1, 2020)
CONSTITUTION OF OKLAHOMA, ARTICLE II-A CRIMINAL HISTORY IN SENTENCING
SECTION I. Definitions
As used in this Article:
A. "Community supervision" shall be defined as a specified period of supervision with conditions, including but not limited to parole, probation, and post-imprisonment supervision.
B. "Statutorily allowable base range of punishment" shall be defined as the range of punishment prescribed for the offense or offenses for which an individual is convicted, without the application of a statutory sentencing enhancement based on one or more former convictions.
C. "Violent felony" shall be defined as any felony offense specified in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes as of January 1, 2020.
SECTION 2. Exclusions
This Article does not apply to, and nothing in this Article shall be construed as applying to, changing, or affecting sentences for a person who has ever been convicted of a violent felony, no matter when convicted.
SECTION 3. Range of punishment after former felony convictions
Except as provided in section 2 of this Article, a former conviction for one or more felonies shall not be used to enhance the statutorily allowable base range of punishment, including but not limited to minimum and maximum terms, for a person convicted, whether by trial or plea of guilty or nolo contendere, of a felony.
SECTION 4. Sentence modification — eligibility Except as provided in section 2 of this Article, a person serving a sentence of incarceration or a person incarcerated pending an acceleration or revocation for a felony offense shall be eligible for sentence modification under this Article if the sentence, including any period of community supervision, for which the person is currently incarcerated satisfies the following criteria:
A. Was imposed based on a statutorily allowable base range of punishment that was enhanced based on one or more former felony convictions; and B. Is greater than the current maximum sentence which may be imposed on a person convicted of the same felony or felonies who has not been formerly convicted of a felony.
SECTION 5. Sentence modification — initiation of proceeding A. To initiate a proceeding for sentence modification under this Article, a person who believes that they satisfy the criteria in section 4 of this Article, henceforth known as the "petitioner," shall file a verified "application for modification" with the clerk of the court that imposed the sentence of incarceration. The Court of Criminal Appeals may prescribe the format of the application. If the court that imposed the sentence is not available, the presiding judge shall designate another judge or magistrate to rule on the application. Within thirty (30) days of the filing of the application, a period which may be extended if the court has good cause, the court shall dismiss the application pursuant to subsection B of this section or proceed pursuant to subsection C of this section.
B. If the court determines, on the basis of the application, that the petitioner does not satisfy the criteria in section 4 of this Article or has not adhered to the foi mat of the prescribed application, it may deny the application, citing reasons for the denial, or allow the petitioner to file an amended application. Denial of the application due to technical errors shall not abridge the right of the petitioner to file a subsequent application.
C. If the court determines, on the basis of the application, that the petitioner satisfies the criteria in section 4 of this Article, then the court shall conduct a sentence modification hearing and modify the sentence in accordance with section 6 of this Article. In advance of such hearing, the court shall appoint counsel for petitioners who are indigent and notify the state. If the petitioner has a victim registered with the Department of Corrections for the sentence for which the petitioner is applying for modification, the state shall notify the victim of the sentence modification hearing.
D. The Department of Corrections shall provide support as necessary to ensure this section is implemented, including but not limited to posting information in facility common areas regarding the rights set forth under section 4 of this Article and providing timely and adequate assistance for the preparation of applications pursuant to subsection A of this section.
SECTION 6. Sentence modification — hearing
A. The sentencing modification hearing shall be held in open court. The court must accord the state, any registered victim, and the counsel for the petitioner an opportunity to make a statement with respect to any matter relevant to the question of sentence. The petitioner has the right to make a statement on his or her own behalf before the court pronounces a modified sentence.
B. During the sentencing modification hearing, the court shall reconsider the sentence for which the petitioner is currently incarcerated, without any consideration or reference to an enhancement based on one or more former felony convictions, consistent with section 3 of this Article. In reaching this determination, the court shall consider the estimated cost of the petitioner's continued incarceration to the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma.
C. At the conclusion of the sentencing modification hearing, the court shall be empowered to modify any aspect of the original sentence. At minimum, the court shall modify the sentence to be no greater than the current maximum sentence which may be imposed on a person convicted of the same felony or felonies with no former felony convictions. The court shall not modify the sentence so that the portion of the sentence to be served in prison is greater than the remainder of the original sentence to be served in prison.
SECTION 7. Appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals A denial pursuant to subsection B of section 5 or a final order entered under subsection C of section 6 of this Article may be appealed by the petitioner to the Court of Criminal Appeals within sixty (60) days from the entry of the denial or final order. The appeal shall be taken in accordance with procedures implemented by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
SECTION 8. Implementation
This Article shall become effective on the January 1 immediately following its passage.
SECTION 9. Severability
The provisions of this Article are severable, and if any part or provision shall be void, invalid, or unconstitutional, the decision of the court shall not affect or impair any of the remaining parts or provisions of this Article, and the remaining provisions shall continue in full force and effect.