For free consultation call 918 582 1313

Understanding the Term “Harmless Error” in Oklahoma Criminal Law

Harmless Error

......this Court applies the " harmless error" doctrine to errors which neither result in a miscarriage of justice nor constitute a substantial violation of a constitutional or statutory right. Thus, our law does not require perfection by the State in prosecuting a citizen. We can, and do, frequently deem harmless those errors which do not substantially violate an individual's rights. Flores v. State, 1995 OK CR 31.

The “harmless error” doctrine is hated by most criminal appeal attorneys I know. With the “harmless error” doctrine the appellate courts admit that error occurred, however, make the determination that the error was “harmless” and did not affect the outcome of the trial. The “harmless error” doctrine is often appropriately used by the appellate courts to deny frivolous claims raised by criminal appeal attorneys. However, sometime appellate courts use the “harmless error” doctrine to excuse non-frivolous claims that should lead to a reversal of a defendant's conviction.

Return to the Oklahoma Criminal Law Guide

Kevin D Adams, Attorney at Law
417 West 7th Street, Suite 202 Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119
Phone: 918 582 1313