Disrupting the Cycle of Violence: Prosecuting Domestic Violence Offenders in Possession of a Firearm
The WDOK includes 40 counties and covers approximately 40,000 square miles, with a population of almost 2.1 million. Oklahoma City is the largest city in the district; the city and surrounding metropolitan-area counties account for approximately 1.4 million residents. While Oklahoma County contains about 23 percent of the state’s population, it accounts for almost 40 percent of the state’s DV homicides. In addition, in 2017, the Oklahoma City Police Department received nearly 35,000 DV calls for service. Given these DV rates in WDOK, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office screens about 3,000 DV cases per year and prosecutes approximately 1,500 of these cases, split between felony and misdemeanor offenses.
This caseload presents challenges to staffing and prioritizing cases to prosecute. Limited state resources to prosecute DV cases resulted in a strain on the system and disillusionment in the criminal justice system among victims of these crimes. In addition, currently, the State of Oklahoma does not have a felony charge that prohibits a person subject to a VPO, or who has a prior conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault and battery, from possessing a firearm. Given these circumstances, the WDOK USAO worked to identify ways it could address these startling circumstances, reduce the overload of DV cases in the system, and provide support to victims of DV. WDOK USAO ultimately developed Operation 922 using PSN funds.