405-778-4800
Adam R. Banner ATTORNEY AT LAW
 
 

 

Murder Defense in Oklahoma

pic of murderer holding gun in Oklahoma

One of the most pressing issues in Oklahoma is our state’s high murder rate. Most of the deaths occur closer to the metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but no county or city is spared when it comes to the untimely death of it's people.

Murder is the ultimate act of criminal consequence. While similar to manslaughter in that it involves the death of a human being, the implications for the accused can be much more severe.. As such, your choice in hiring a criminal defense attorney is of the utmost importance.

The Charges Dictate Defense Options

Not  all murders are created equally. In fact, in the State of Oklahoma there are varying degrees of murder of which everyone should be aware. Oklahoma separates this crime into first and second degree. Both first and second degree crimes are 85% crimes, meaning anyone convicted of those offenses must serve a minimum of 85% of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole or earned credits which could shorten their sentence.

“Murder” occurs when a person unlawfully, and with malice aforethought, causes the death of another human being. Malice is the deliberate intention to illegally take away the life of a human being, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof. The intentional nature of this crime makes punishments extremely harsh. If you or a loved one is facing charges in Oklahoma, you should consult an experienced murder defense lawyer.

First Degree Murder

The following are the circumstances under which someone can be charged with murder in the first degree:

  • Takes the life of a human being.
  • The death of a child results from the willful or malicious injuring, torturing, maiming or using of unreasonable force by said person or who shall willfully cause, procure or permit any of said acts to be done upon the child. Willfully tortured or used unreasonable force upon the child or maliciously injured or maimed the child.
  • Unlawfully and with malice aforethought solicits another person or persons to cause the death of a human being in furtherance of illegally manufacturing, distributing or dispensing controlled dangerous substances, as defined in the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, unlawfully possessing with intent to distribute or dispense controlled dangerous substances, or trafficking in illegal drugs.
  • Intentionally causes the death of a law enforcement officer or correctional officer while the officer is in the performance of official duties.

Punishment

When a person who is convicted at trial or pleads guilty or no contest to murder in the first degree, that person will become a convicted felon. Punishment can result in the death penalty if the case is certified as a capital offense due to specific aggravating factors listed under the law. In all other instances, punishment for first degree murder is either imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole or incarceration for life with the possibility of parole.

Even though a person who is convicted of or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to murder in the first degree shall not be entitled to or afforded the benefit of deferment of the sentence, there is still the possibility that a portion of the life sentence could be suspended. In that event, the convict would only have to serve a part of the life sentence before being released on probation.  Hiring a skilled attorney to fight such charges is essential to ensuring fair sentencing.

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder does not require premeditation or “malice aforethought” as described above. Situations that commonly lead to second degree charges are those in which someone does not plan or set out to intentionally kill another human. These situations include, but are not limited to:

  • When perpetrated by an act imminently dangerous to another person and evincing a depraved mind, regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual; or
  • When perpetrated by a person engaged in the commission of any felony other than the unlawful acts set out in Section 1, subsection B, of this act.

Punishment

A person who is convicted of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, murder in the second degree will be found guilty of a felony and face felony consequences. Anyone convicted will also face punishment by imprisonment for not less than ten (10) years nor more than life.  Again a qualified lawyer can help ensure you receive a fair sentence.

Felony Murder

Another nuance to Oklahoma’s laws occurs when someone is charged with felony murder. This is a first degree charge, regardless of malice or intent, when the death of another human being occurs during, or as a result of, specific criminal activity such as:

  • Attempting to kill another person besides the person who is ultimately killed;
  • Shooting or discharging a firearm with the intent to kill another;
  • Intentionally discharging a deadly weapon into a home or other building;
  • Forcible rape;
  • Robbery with a dangerous weapon;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Escape from lawful custody;
  • Eluding an officer;
  • First degree burglary or arson;
  • Distribution of a controlled dangerous substance;
  • Trafficking in illegal drugs; or
  • Manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance.

To further confuse the issue, any person involved in the specific criminal activity can be charged with first degree murder even if they are not the one that “pulled the trigger” or otherwise directly caused the death, so long as the death occurred as a result of one of the crimes listed above.

Felony murder carries the same penalty as a first degree charge.

Hiring a Defense Attorney

Hiring legal representation to fight murder charges is crucial.  The punishments associated with this crime are as severe as they come.  While an attorney may not be able to win a not guilty verdict, they could very well lessen the sentencing you might receive.  For more information contact The Law Offices of Adam R. Banner, P.C. in Oklahoma City.

×