Within the state of Oklahoma, there are several different charges of murder and manslaughter which can be brought against a defendant. They are:
- 1st Degree Murder
- Murder with Malice Aforthought: The state is required to prove that the accused deliberately intended to kill the alleged victim.
- 1st Degree Felony Murder: The state must show that the alleged victim died as the result of the defendant committing certain enumerated felonies, such as Burglary I. The defendant’s intent (or lack thereof) is not a factor.
- Child abuse murder: If the alleged victim is a minor not yet 18 years of age, the state can show that the child died as the result of abuse by the defendant, or as the result of willful permission of abuse by the defendant. Here again, intent is not a factor.
- 2nd Degree Murder
- Murder by Imminently Dangerous Conduct: The state must demonstrate that the defendant acted with extreme disregard for human life, and that the alleged victim’s death was a direct result of that conduct.
- 2nd Degree Felony Murder: The state must prove that the alleged victim died as a result of the defendant’s conduct during any felony not permissible for 1st degree felony murder.
- 1st Degree Manslaughter
- Misdemeanor Manslaughter: The state is required to prove that the alleged victim died as a result of the defendant’s commission of a misdemeanor. Intent is not a factor here.
- Heat of Passion Manslaughter: The state is required to show that the defendant acted “in the heat of passion” and committed a non-excusable or non-justified act with either a dangerous weapon or in a cruel or unusual manner.
- Resisting a Criminal Attempt: The state must show that the defendant used undue deadly force while resisting a criminal act by the deceased individual.
Each form of murder and manslaughter carries the potential for heavy punishment. 1st Degree Murder may be punished by life in prison with parole, life in prison without parole, or the death penalty. 2nd Degree Murder is punishable by a minimum of 10 years to a maximum of a life sentence. 1st Degree Manslaughter is punished by a minimum of 4 years in prison.
Anyone who has been charged with taking the life of another should seriously consider private legal representation. Although the state does provide public defenders to those who qualify, the seriousness of these charges may require extensive time and strategy in preparation, both pre-trial and if necessary, during trial, sentencing and the appellate stage. Issues that are not raised at critical points in the proceedings may be lost to the defendant on appeal, such as the affirmative defense of Self-Defense, Defense of Third Persons, or other mitigating factors.
Because of the seriousness of murder allegations and the complexity of murder or manslaughter defense, hiring an experienced criminal attorney in Oklahoma City is a vital step to protect your rights. The legal professionals at MK Bailey Law Offices specialize in criminal cases and can help you understand the law as it applies to you and how best to form a defense and pursue justice. Call us now for a free consultation to discuss your case.