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What Is Domestic Violence in Oklahoma?

Kaylind Landes
6 minute read

Domestic violence is widespread in Oklahoma, affecting all races, ages, genders, and income levels. For victims, it can result in fear, injury, and even death. For perpetrators, it means harsh consequences that can affect you for the rest of your life. It can feel overwhelming. Here’s what you need to know.

What Qualifies as Domestic Violence in Oklahoma?

Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, is when a spouse, intimate partner, family member, or roommate physically harms or threatens to harm someone they live with or are in a relationship with. In Oklahoma, domestic violence and abuse are defined in the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act as “any act of physical harm or the threat of imminent physical harm committed by an adult, emancipated minor, or child [at least] 13 years of age against another [person] who is currently or was previously an intimate partner or family or household member.”

Examples of domestic violence include:

  • Physical violence, like punching, kicking, biting, and strangling
  • Throwing things at another person
  • Pulling hair or grabbing clothing
  • Pushing or pulling someone

Oklahoma’s Domestic Violence Problem

By many estimates, Oklahoma is one of the worst states in the country for domestic violence. According to the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board (OKDVFRB), there have been an average of nearly 25,000 incidents reported every year since 2011. The majority of incidents aren’t between partners, either: 56% of incidents were family relationships and 21% were intimate partners. Protective orders are also on the rise: There was an 8.4% increase between 2020 and 2021.

A recent analysis by World Population Review also placed Oklahoma first in the nation for domestic violence. It found that 49% of women and 40% of men in our state experience domestic violence in their lifetime. It’s clear that this is a massive public health problem in the state, which is why punishments and consequences can be harsh.

Punishment for Domestic Violence in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s domestic violence laws set out definitions and punishments for several types of abuse. Domestic assault and battery is the most common type of domestic violence, and is usually a misdemeanor. It’s punishable by a $5,000 fine, up to 1 year in jail, or both.

Domestic assault and battery with a dangerous or deadly weapon is an assault that involves any implement other than your own body. These are both felony charges: Using a dangerous weapon can land you in jail for up to 10 years, while a deadly weapon can result in a life sentence.

Certain other types of domestic violence also carry harsher punishments. Assault and battery by strangulation is punishable by up to 3 years in prison, and assaulting a pregnant woman is punishable by up to 5 years. For every type of domestic violence in Oklahoma, punishment increases for multiple offenses.

Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction

We’ve talked about jail time and fines, but the consequences for a domestic violence conviction can last long after you’ve served your time. While misdemeanor convictions can be expunged, you’ll have to wait anywhere between 1 and 5 years from the date your sentence ends. That’s plenty of time for it to affect your life—and felonies can’t be expunged at all. Additionally, federal law will prevent you from owning a firearm after a conviction for domestic assault and battery, regardless of whether it is a felony or misdemeanor.

You Can Lose Your Rights

If you’ve been convicted of domestic violence in Oklahoma, you may lose your right to own and carry a firearm—even if it was a misdemeanor. (Yes, that’s right. Expunging a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction still won’t restore your gun rights.) With a felony conviction, you’ll also lose your right to vote for a certain amount of time, and permanently lose your right to run for office and serve on a jury.

It Can Affect Divorce and Custody Cases

Worse than losing your rights, you could lose custody of your children. If you’re alleged to have committed domestic violence in the presence of a child, Oklahoma ​Child Protective Services (CPS) will open an investigation that could end with your child being removed from your home. In addition, spouses often use these convictions to file for sole custody or to argue for a larger settlement during divorce proceedings—and judges find these arguments convincing.

You’ll Fail Background Checks

Even a misdemeanor conviction stays on your record for 1 to 5 years, and during that time, employers, landlords, and anyone else who runs a background check will see it. Because of this, many people with domestic violence convictions struggle to find housing and employment. Even if you’re not immediately disqualified from employment or housing, a criminal record puts you at a disadvantage.

The Bottom Line

In Oklahoma, a domestic violence conviction on your record has serious consequences long after you’ve completed your sentence. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to defend against these serious charges.