The Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma is a team of criminal defense attorneys, research specialists, paralegals, and investigators. We represent people charged with federal crimes who cannot afford to pay an attorney. If you need us, we must be appointed by the court. We can assist you in filling out a financial affidavit for the court’s review. If the court determines you cannot afford to hire an attorney, it will appoint one. Once we are appointed, we work for you, just as a hired attorney would. Except, we are free.
If you have been charged with a federal crime or have received a letter stating you are the target of a federal investigation, and you cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent you, then yes. Contact us and we will assist you in seeking appointment of counsel.
First, it is important to determine whether you are merely a witness or whether you are the subject or “target” of the investigation. A witness just provides evidence, which the grand jury will use to determine if they should issue an Indictment. The subject or target is anyone they might issue charges against based on the outcome of their proceedings. If you suspect you may be the subject or target of the investigation, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, contact us and we will assist you in seeking appointment of counsel.
You have the right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement officers. While in some circumstances you may be required to identify yourself, you do not have to give information beyond that. You may also choose to speak to an attorney or have one with you during questioning. To assert these rights, clearly tell the agents that you wish to remain silent and that you want to consult with a lawyer. If you are already represented by counsel, let your attorney know immediately that you were approached by law enforcement.
After the Supreme Court affirmed the right to court-appointed counsel for criminal defendants, many were still left disadvantaged as payment for counsel’s time or expenses related to building a defense was not provided for. Congress responded by passing the Criminal Justice Act (CJA). It provides hourly fees and expenses for court-appointed lawyers. This allows our office to keep a panel of private attorneys, called the CJA Panel, to serve as court-appointed lawyers in cases we are unable to take. You may access a directory of our panel attorneys here.
Your attorney and members of their staff are the only people you should talk to about your case. Those discussions are confidential. Anything you tell your family, friends, or others is not confidential and is subject to being disclosed to law enforcement or the prosecution team. Other people can be questioned about and, at times, forced to testify about what you say to them. Jail phone calls are recorded and regularly monitored. Those discussions, even if in another language, may also become evidence. Let people know your lawyer has instructed you not to discuss the matter with anyone. If a law enforcement officer tries to talk to you, tell them you want your attorney there.
No. Your federal public defender can only defend you in your federal case. You will need to let your state court judge know if you need counsel appointed to represent you there. However, your federal defender will consult with your attorney in any pending state case to be sure actions taken in one case do not cause a detriment in the other.
Probation is awarded in place of imprisonment. It allows you remain in the community while serving your sentence. However, probation is not permitted in many federal cases and in those cases where it is an option, sentences of probation are rare. A term of supervised release accompanies a sentence of imprisonment. It is a set period of time that you are monitored after you are released from prison (or a halfway house). In both, you will be assigned a U.S. Probation Officer who will ensure you follow the strict rules, called “conditions,” the court put into place. Also in both, if you violate or do not follow those rules, you could be sent to prison. Therefore, it is important that you establish a good working relationship with your probation officer. Please let your attorney know of any issues with your supervision, as they may be able to assist you in resolving them before a violation report is filed with the court.
Rumors to changes in federal sentencing structure or credit computation are common, and often incomplete or wholly inaccurate. Our attorneys stay current on new developments in federal criminal law and updates to the Sentencing Guidelines and will be your best and most reliable source for changes that may impact your case.
Yes! Your loved one’s attorney can submit letters of support to the judge for them to consider before sentencing. These letters should highlight positive attributes of the defendant and help the court to get to know the defendant outside of their criminal charge. We believe it is important for the judge to know the whole person and not just the defendant as a person who committed the crime(s) charged. In addition to submitting your own letter, it is often helpful to have a family member reach out to others who know the defendant well and have a favorable impression.
A few simple guidelines should be followed:
- Open your letter with “Dear Judge [insert the judge’s last name]” or “Honorable Judge [insert the judge’s last name].”
- If you have access to a computer to type and print your letter, please do so. Otherwise, a handwritten letter will suffice. Just be sure to write as neatly as possible so it can be easily read.
- Identify yourself and your relationship to defendant. Include details describing how long you’ve known them and in what capacity (ex. coworker, relative, through church, childhood friend). It is important for the court to know how you have been able to form your positive impression of the defendant.
- Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the conviction. However, do not discuss the details of the offense, defend the act, or make statements of disbelief of guilt.
- Give your impression of the positive personality attributes of the defendant. If you have a story of behavior that highlights an attribute, include it.
- If you are aware of them, reference conversations or steps taken since the criminal incident or since arrest that indicate remorse, a desire by the defendant to make better choices, or efforts toward rehabilitation (ex. has the defendant shown an exemplary commitment to maintaining stable employment, completed drug treatment and is continuing with support services, consistently participated in mental health treatment, etc.?).
- Be sure to sign your letter and include a printed version of your name as well.
Though they are addressed to the judge, be sure you do not send letters of support to the court directly. Instead, give them to the defendant’s attorney to present to the court.
If the person has been sentenced, you may search for their location on the Bureau of Prisons site. You may click on the facility name for more information about the specific site. If the person’s case is still pending, they are likely being held in one of our local jails, linked in the Inmate Locators section of our site here.
You can find information about adding funds to your loved one’s commissary account on the Bureau of Prisons Inmate Communications tab. If their case is still pending and they are in a local or state facility, you will need to reach out to their individual site for instruction.
To visit an inmate at a Bureau of Prisons facility, you must be pre-approved. This involves action on both your and the inmate’s part. To learn more about the approval process and visitation guidelines (including dress code, behavior, and physical contact rules), visit the Bureau of Prisons visitation info page.