Historic Felony Sentencing Modernization Bill Approved by House

May 29, 2024
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The Oklahoma House of Representatives Wednesdays approved the final language of a measure that would make major changes to Oklahoma's criminal code.

House Bill 1792 by Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond, categorizes all felonies into classes according to the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Reclassification Council’s recommendations, which followed three years of study. The Council was created by the Legislature in 2018 to review the criminal code and propose a felony classification system that strengthened public safety without increasing the prison population.

Primarily, HB1792 places Oklahoma’s over 2,000 felonies into 14 different categories based on the severity of the crime. Furthermore, it aligns sentence ranges with current practices based on data derived from judicial sentencing orders rather than actual time served. The measure sets standard sentencing ranges and minimum time served requirements for Class C and D felonies, with the severity of these sentences increasing after repeat offenses.

"I firmly believe House Bill 1792 represents our best path forward to provide a reformed, clear and consistent felony classification system while ensuring the safety of Oklahomans comes first," Osburn said. "This bill is the result of over two years of collaboration, discussion and hard work by law enforcement, prosecutors, criminal justice reform advocates, policymakers, and other stakeholders. I greatly appreciate the work of all the stakeholders who stepped up to the task and dived into the details over the last several years." 

HB1792 addresses less serious prior felony convictions differently than more serious prior felony convictions. The measure also provides that minimum time served requirements will be included in jury instructions, as well as clarifies that inmates will not be released from prison on ankle monitors before their minimum time served.

Osburn emphasized that HB1792 does not change any sentencing ranges for violent felonies in the Y, A and B classes, which include murder, sexual abuse, arson, assault and first-degree burglary. Additionally, the measure does not change sentence ranges for any misdemeanor or address any fines and fees, nor does it change punishments or sentences for crimes related to animal theft and abuse, abortion, or oil and gas, pipeline, and critical infrastructure.

HB1792 passed the House 67-26 and now moves to the Senate for consideration of the conference committee report. If signed into law, HB1792 would take effect Jan. 1, 2026, granting policymakers time to analyze data and make adjustments before the new system goes live. These sentencing changes are not retroactive and would only apply to felonies committed after the enacting date. 

Oklahoma House of Representatives seal