Author: Monroe & Keele, P.C.

Computer Images & Proof of Ownership | Oklahoma Computer Crimes

Computer Images & Proof of Ownership | Oklahoma Computer Crimes

In our current internet era, questions can arise when a computer crime is committed and the suspect is not caught “in the act” while he or she is behind the computer. Questions can arise, such as:

  • Who has access to the computer?
  • Was the network secure?
  • Are several image files considered singly or as one charge?

Oklahoma Computer CrimesA recent Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals case sought to challenge a conviction based in part on issues surrounding the questions above [ Case involving Oklahoma Computer Crimes ]. On June 1, 2016, Paul Hamilton (Hamilton) was convicted of (Count One) Distribution of Child Pornography and (Count 2) Aggravated Possession of Child Pornography.[1] He received two consecutive sentences: Count One, ten years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine; Count Two, twenty-five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.[2]

Hamilton raised several propositions on appeal: (1) the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he distributed child pornography; (2) the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly possessed child pornography; (3) the district court’s interpretation of the statutory language with respect to the offense charged in Count Two of the information and the facts underlying his alleged offense was erroneous; and (4) the sentence was excessive and should be modified.[3]

The Court agreed with the District Court after considering Hamilton’s propositions and after reviewing the record. The charges were based on the Tulsa Police Department’s investigation which by using a popular online file-sharing program, sought and received images of child pornography from Hamilton’s IP address. Those materials justified the basis for a search warrant into Hamilton’s home computer, where over 100 images of child pornography were discovered.[4]

In Propositions I and II, Hamilton contended to several theories as why his convictions should be vacated for lack of sufficient evidence. Hamilton argued that “in any case involving possession of contraband, the fact-finder must consider all the surrounding circumstances to decide whether the defendant’s knowledge of the presence and nature of the prohibited material can reasonably be inferred, and whether anyone else might reasonably have had access to the place where the material was found;”[5] “[p]roof of knowledge and control is often circumstantial in nature.”[6] However, reasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence carry the same probative force as direct evidence.[7]. Similarly, with regard to the distribution of contraband, including child pornography, the defendant’s knowledge of the material, and a willful intent to share it with others, are essential components of the charge.[8]

The Court noted the testimony from two detectives with experience in Oklahoma computer crimes, and child pornography investigations, in particular. They both testified about the files from Hamilton’s IP address and the subsequent discovery of related files on his computer. They told the jury how file-sharing programs work, and how files are stored on a computer. Each detective used his personal smartphone to see whether Hamilton’s Internet connection was password-protected, and it was. Given the distribution of obscene material originating from Hamilton’s IP address coupled with discovering the same type of material on Hamilton’s computer, the suspicious log of Internet search queries on that computer, and Hamilton’s statements to police, a rational juror could conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Hamilton knowingly possessed the obscene material and willfully made it available online.[9] Thus, the Court denied Propositions I and II.[10]

For Proposition III, Hamilton claimed that multiple obscene images on a single computer hard drive should be considered a single item of contraband, and that Count Two (Aggravated Possession of Child Pornography) should have been reduced to simple possession of child pornography.[11]

Under the Oklahoma Aggravated Possession of Child Pornography statute, it criminalizes the possession of one hundred or more “separate materials” depicting child pornography.[12] “Material” is not limited to physical objects used to store the offensive material (such as a computer hard drive), but includes each “image,” “picture,” or “depiction” stored therein.[13] According to the Court, the Legislature intended that each visual image of child pornography should constitute as a separate “material.”[14]

The Court found that the sentences imposed fell within the statutory limits. Furthermore, it did not find improper evidence that would prejudice Hamilton, and thus, denied Hamilton’s propositions.[15]

At Monroe & Keele, P.C., our Tulsa criminal defense attorneys are prepared to defend you against any criminal charge, from minor traffic violations to serious Oklahoma Computer Crimes. No criminal charge is too serious and no case too complex. We have successfully handled numerous complex, high-profile criminal trials and appeals for clients in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma. We have handled many high profile sex crimes cases-and we are dedicated to protecting the rights and reputations of clients accused of sexual assault, Oklahoma Computer Crimes, and other sex crime charges.

[1] Hamilton v. State, 2016 WL 3125845 at ¶ 1, 2016 OK CR 13 (June 1, 2016).

[2] Id.

[3] Id. at ¶ 2.

[4] Id. at ¶ 3.

[5] Id. at ¶ 4.

[6] Hamilton v. State, 2016 WL 3125845 at ¶ 4, 2016 OK CR 13 (June 1, 2016) (citing Johnson v. State, 1988 OK CR 246, ¶ 5, 764 P.2d 530, 532).

[7] Id. (citing Easlick v. State, 2004 OK CR 21, ¶¶ 11, 15, 90 P.3d 556, 559).

[8] See Inst. No. 4–133, OUJI–CR (2d) (distribution of child pornography must be “willful,” and requires that the defendant knew the nature and character of the material distributed); Hanf v. State, 1977 OK CR 41, ¶ 14, 560 P.2d 207, 210.

[9] Hamilton v. State, 2016 WL 3125845 at ¶ 5 (citing Davis v. State, 1996 OK CR 15, ¶¶ 34–36, 916 P.2d 251, 260–61).

[10] Id.

[11] Id. at ¶6.

[12] Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1040.12a(A).

[13] See Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §§ 1040.12a(B)(2), 1040.75.

[14] Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1040.12a.

[15] Hamilton v. State, 2016 WL 3125845 at ¶ 7-8, 2016 OK CR 13 (June 1, 2016).

Federal vs State Jurisdiction; Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Oklahoma

Federal Crimes vs. Oklahoma State Crimes

There are two sets of courts for criminal prosecutions in Oklahoma: state and federal courts. While the courts share power, each has its own system, courthouse, prosecutors, and judges. Federal judges are Federal Crimes | U.S. Department of Justicenominated by the president (approved by the senate), and serve in that capacity for life. U.S. Attorneys prosecute federal crimes and have more resources at their disposal than their state counterparts. Facing charges in federal court is significantly more serious than any criminal offense filed in state court, both in how the case will be tried and in the level of penalties that can be imposed. In a report issued United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Report released last year, detailing the convictions during FY2012, 97% of all federal offenders pleaded guilty.

You may ask, what makes a crime federal rather than state? In short, federal crimes are those that break the federal legal code and state crimes break state laws. However, in a large number of cases, there is concurrent jurisdiction for the same crime, meaning the charges can be brought in either court. For example, possession of marijuana is a violation of both Oklahoma state and federal law. Technically, it can be charged in Oklahoma state court or federal court. However, you will not see many federal agencies pursuing investigations or arrests of a small amount of marijuana. Drug trafficking cases with large quantities of illegal drugs account for a significant percentage of federal cases, and defendants prosecuted federally for drug cases account for a large portion of inmates in federal correctional facilities. Of the 84,360 federal criminal cases in which the offender was sentenced in fiscal year 2012, 30% were for drugs.

Federal Crimes

One other component to most federal criminal prosecutions is the requirement that the crime in question impact interstate commerce. Congress is granted the broad authority to regulate interstate commerce, which includes criminal activities that have a “substantial impact” on interstate commerce. While there has been a rapid expansion of what substantially impacts interstate commerce over the last fifty years, the Supreme Court did put a limit on Congress’ use of the commerce clause in the United States v. Lopez. The Court held that Congress overreached in passing the Gun-Free School Zones Act because the possession of a gun near a school zone was a local matter.

If you have questions regarding federal crimes in Oklahoma (Northern or Eastern District), or are facing charges in these districts, contact our attorneys by phone at (918)592-1144 or online for a consultation. Our Tulsa criminal defense attorneys provide a thorough and aggressive legal approach. We begin by listening to you and analyzing every detail of your case before developing a strategy. From the first moment you reach out to us for help, you are treated with respect.

New Oklahoma Expungement Amendments Effective November 1, 2016

Oklahoma Expungement Amendments Effective November 1

Oklahoma Expungement Amendments Effective November 1

The term “expungement” means that a person’s arrest or conviction is “sealed” or erased from their public record.[1] There are two different types of expungement Once a full expungement is granted, a person usually does not need to reveal or answer any question concerning that arrest or charge. However, this does not mean that an arrest or a conviction is completely erased from all records; an expungement remains an integral part of an individual’s criminal record and readily accessible by criminal courts, government agencies, and law enforcement. Depending on what background service provider a potential employer or landlord uses to conduct a background check of a person’s criminal record, the record could be inaccurate if they did not update to show an expungement was granted.  One should keep a certified copy of the Order of Expungement for life in case it is ever an issue.

On November 1, 2016, the revised statute went into effect:

Persons authorized to file a motion for expungement, as provided herein, must be within one of the following categories:

  1. The person has been acquitted;
  2. The conviction was reversed with instructions to dismiss by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction, or an appellate court of competent jurisdiction reversed the conviction and the prosecuting agency subsequently dismissed the charge;
  3. The factual innocence of the person was established by the use of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence subsequent to conviction, including a person who has been released from prison at the time innocence was established;
  4. The person has received a full pardon on the basis of a written finding by the Governor of actual innocence for the crime for which the claimant was sentenced;
  5. The person was arrested and no charges of any type, including charges for an offense different than that for which the person was originally arrested, are filed and the statute of limitations has expired or the prosecuting agency has declined to file charges;
  6. The person was under eighteen (18) years of age at the time the offense was committed and the person has received a full pardon for the offense;
  7. The person was charged with one or more misdemeanor or felony crimes, all charges have been dismissed, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and the statute of limitations for refiling the charge or charges has expired or the prosecuting agency confirms that the charge or charges will not be refiled; provided, however, this category shall not apply to charges that have been dismissed following the completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence;
  8. The person was charged with a misdemeanor, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least one (1) year has passed since the charge was dismissed;
  9. The person was charged with a nonviolent felony offense, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the charge was dismissed following the successful completion of a deferred judgment or delayed sentence, the person has never been convicted of a felony, no misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against the person, and at least five (5) years have passed since the charge was dismissed;
  10. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person was sentenced to a fine of less than Five Hundred One Dollars ($501.00) without a term of imprisonment or a suspended sentence, the fine has been paid or satisfied by time served in lieu of the fine, the person has not been convicted of a felony, and no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person;
  11. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the person was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a suspended sentence or a fine in an amount greater than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), the person has not been convicted of a felony, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least five (5) years have passed since the end of the last misdemeanor sentence;
  12. The person was convicted of a nonviolent felony offense, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for the offense, the person has not been convicted of any other felony, the person has not been convicted of a separate misdemeanor in the last fifteen (15) years, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least ten (10) years have passed since the felony conviction;
  13. The person was convicted of not more than two nonviolent felony offenses, not listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the person has received a full pardon for both of the nonviolent felony offenses, no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person, and at least twenty (20) years have passed since the last misdemeanor or felony conviction; or
  14. The person has been charged or arrested or is the subject of an arrest warrant for a crime that was committed by another person who has appropriated or used the person’s name or other identification without the person’s consent or authorization.
  15. For purposes of this act, “expungement” shall mean the sealing of criminal records, as well as any public civil record, involving actions brought by and against the State of Oklahoma arising from the same arrest, transaction or occurrence.
  16. For purposes of seeking an expungement under the provisions of paragraph 10, 11, 12 or 13 of subsection A of this section, offenses arising out of the same transaction or occurrence shall be treated as one conviction and offense.
  17. Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of subsection A of this section shall be sealed to the public but not to law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes. Records expunged pursuant to paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of subsection A of this section shall be admissible in any subsequent criminal prosecution to prove the existence of a prior conviction or prior deferred judgment without the necessity of a court order requesting the unsealing of the records. Records expunged pursuant to paragraph 4, 6, 12 or 13 of subsection A of this section may also include the sealing of Pardon and Parole Board records related to an application for a pardon. Such records shall be sealed to the public but not to the Pardon and Parole Board.

In June 2016, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed House Bill 2397, which amended several sections of the prior Expungement of Criminal Records statute. These new amendments primarily focus on changing the wait times for expungement records (which depend on the sentence), separating out misdemeanor fines from misdemeanor suspended and jail sentences, and removing misdemeanor convictions from the expungement analysis regarding deferred sentences.

The amendments did the following:  

  • Allow expungement for a person convicted of a misdemeanor, if the offense/fine was less than $501 and the person served no term of imprisonment or suspended sentence.
  • Allow expungement for two felony convictions, after a Governor’s pardon and 20 years has passed;
  • Allow expungement of civil records relating to the underlying criminal arrest;
  • Prospectively, limit the listing of date of birth records and social security numbers on court documents;
  • Will make expunged DNA records inadmissible in future prosecutions;
  • Notify the “Prosecuting Agency” instead of the “District Attorney;”
  • No longer disqualify deferred sentence expungements for misdemeanor convictions

The changes above are not an exhaustive list of amendments to the law, but the most relevant, in our opinion. For a final version of the bill signed by the Governor, please view it here

If you have questions about how the new law impacts your ability to seek an expungement in Oklahoma, please contact our office for a consultation.

[1] Okla. Stat. tit. 22, § 18(B).

[2] Id.

Oklahoma Super Lawyers | Monroe & Keele, P.C.

Stan Monroe & Ann Keele Named 2016 Oklahoma Super Lawyers

Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters

Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The objective of Super Lawyers is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.

Stan Monroe and Ann Keele were both named to the Oklahoma Super Lawyers list for 2016. Stan Monroe has been named to the Oklahoma Super Lawyers list in every year since 2007. Ann Keele has been named to the Oklahoma Super Lawyers Rising Star list every year since 2013.


Monroe & Keele, P.C., is a leading Tulsa law firm providing experienced legal representation in the areas of criminal defense, family law, estate planning and civil rights law.

Led by partners Stan Monroe and Ann Keele, we are known throughout Tulsa and beyond as a law firm that is committed to our clients as well as the community at large. Our lawyers are experienced trial advocates with a proven record of success representing clients in state and federal courts throughout Oklahoma.

We have achieved this record of success one case at a time, by giving each and every client the service, attention and zealous representation they deserve.

The Value Of Integrity

We are straight shooters who do not play games with the law. Whether we’re talking to a client or a judge, we tell it like it is. Our unwavering commitment to honesty and integrity has earned us respect among people within and outside the legal community. When we speak for you, our words will carry weight.

We’ll Keep You Informed

Nobody likes to be kept in the dark, especially where a high-stakes legal issue is concerned. We keep open lines of communication with our clients, responding promptly to phone calls and emails, and notifying clients of all important developments in their cases. We understand how important this legal matter is to you and will provide you with the attentive, responsive service you deserve.

Terry Stops | Tulsa Criminal Defense Lawyers

Warrantless Search Series; Terry Stops

Warrantless Search Series; Terry Stops

When the police search your person, automobile, or home without a warrant, common questions arise: Was the search valid? Did they have the authority to search me? Is this allowed? Unfortunately, there is no clear cut yes or no answer to these questions. In order to understand what calls for a yes and what calls for a no, you must know what protections you have and what exceptions are available to law enforcement officers performing their duties.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that searches must be “reasonable.” That’s essentially the determination courts must make when law enforcement agents conduct a search without a warrant: The general rule is that a search without a valid warrant is unreasonable. Where there is no warrant, it must be demonstrated that there was both probable cause and the search fell within a recognized exception.

There are many recognized scenarios where law enforcement may conduct a warrantless search;

  • Terry Stops; Stop and Frisks,
  • Under the “plain view doctrine”,
  • Based on voluntary consent,
  • Pursuant to a custodial inventory search,
  • Pursuant to statute,
  • When presented with exigent circumstances,
  • Automobile searches,
  • When incident to lawful arrest.

When Can Officers Stop You and Search Your Person? Terry Stops

Pursuant to Terry v. Ohio[1], decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968, a police officer has the authority to stop a suspect when he or she has reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring. The officer may only conduct this type of investigatory detention if he or she has a reasonable suspicion based on specific and articulable facts criminal conduct is occurring. Reasonable suspicion is something less than probable cause to believe criminal activity is occurring, but still must be based on specific and reasonable inferences an officer is reasonably entitled to draw from the facts in light of his or her experience.

Whether or not the officer can search the individual is dependent upon the circumstances of the encounter. Although the person has been stopped based upon the officer’s reasonable suspicion, the officer is limited in how he/she can search the individual’s person. When the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and presently dangerous conduct, they are entitled to frisk the individual. The frisk is limited to a search for weapons by patting down only the outer clothing of the person. During this search, if an item is immediately recognized as contraband it may be seized pursuant to the “plain feel” exception. Both the search and the stop must be reasonable. This is determined through an objective test, which means that if the behavior meets a certain threshold, it’s reasonable. If not, the law enforcement behavior is unreasonable.

How can one use this information to answer whether the search is valid? Well, the more the facts support the officer’s reasonable suspicion, the greater support for the stop. At our law firm, we take the time to listen to the facts and review police reports in order to ensure law enforcement agents are following procedure. While certain constitutional violations are harmless, some may result in the suppression of harmful evidence.

We handle criminal defense cases and civil rights violations. We aggressively fight for the best possible outcome for our clients. Call our office at (918)592-1144 for a consultation today.

[1] Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).