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What is "justifiable homicide" in the eyes of Oklahoma law?

When a news story details an investigation into a shooting or similar altercation that leaves a person deceased, many of us start to ask questions. How did the person die? What was the motivation? Will the shooter be charged? Of course, such cases are rarely cut and dry. In fact, the State of Oklahoma has a rule that deems some such situations ok if certain circumstances were present at the time of the event.

Specifically, subsection 21-733 of the Oklahoma Statutes addresses "justifiable homicide." Under the law, the killing of another person is justifiable under three situations. In one situation, if the homicide happens while a person is lawfully attempting to arrest the deceased based on a felony that person committed, attempting to keep or preserve the peace, or in an attempt to deal with a riot, it is justifiable.

Alternatively, if the homicide occurs while defending oneself from being the victim of a felony in action or on their home, it is justifiable. Finally, if the person who commits the homicide does so to protect or defend a close relation - for example, a spouse, child or parent - when imminent danger is present, then it is justifiable.

Of course, when investigating a particular situation involving a death, police may not always come to the conclusion that a defensive act meets the requirements of this law. Fair or not, prosecutors can also be aggressive when it comes to seeking what they perceive as justice on behalf of the state. In these cases, an in-depth understand of the possible defenses - including justifiable homicide - can be vital in developing a strong rebuttal to the police and prosecutor at every step of a criminal defense case and in ensuring a lawful act doesn't get unfairly punished.

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M.K. Bailey Law Offices
1001 NW 63rd Street Ste. 280
Oklahoma City, OK, 73116
Phone: 405-607-1177
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