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Oklahoma Survivors' Act could lead to lighter criminal sentences for some survivors of abuse

Jackie Fortier
StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 1835, also known as the Oklahoma Survivors’ Act, into law Tuesday. State Sens. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Todd Gollihare, R-Stratford, had co-sponsored the bill.

The new law directs courts to reduce the sentences of criminal defendants if they can prove physical, sexual or psychological abuse was a substantial contributing factor in their offense.

For example, this means defendants who have been convicted of killing their spouse may receive a lighter sentence if they can prove they were the victim of domestic abuse.

The law does not apply to defendants who have been convicted of an offense that puts them on the sex offender registry nor to defendants who have received the death penalty.

Stitt previously vetoed a version of the bill saying it went too far. However, lawmakers raised the burden of proof for defendants in the most recent version of the bill, which the governor ultimately signed.

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Cait Kelley is a summer intern at KOSU through the Scripps Howard Fund summer internship program.
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