Murder Defense Attorney Oklahoma City: First & Second Degree Charges


Request Your

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

An Oklahoma City murder defense attorney provides legal defense for individuals facing charges of first degree or second degree murder in the State of Oklahoma. Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of one person by another with malice aforethought, either expressed or implied. Oklahoma law defines two types of murder charges including murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree. The type of charges brought against a defendant are determined by the defendant's intent and the circumstances surrounding the act. A murder defense lawyer utilizes specific legal strategies according to the charges against the defendant, the circumstances of the case, and the evidence presented by the prosecution.

Murder defense attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of Oklahoma criminal law, forensic evidence, and Oklahoma criminal court procedures. Individuals facing murder charges in the state of Oklahoma should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure their rights are protected.

pic of murderer holding gun in Oklahoma

What Type of Lawyers Deal With Murder Charges in Oklahoma?

Criminal defense lawyers deal with cases involving first degree murder and second degree murder. Murder defense lawyers have specific expertise in Oklahoma criminal court procedures, analyzing forensic evidence, and a thorough understanding of Oklahoma criminal law, enabling them to provide effective legal representation to individuals charged with first or second degree murder. Hiring an experienced Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney is important to ensuring the best possible outcome in a case involving murder charges.

How Do Criminal Defense Lawyers Fight Murder Charges?

Defense strategies for murder charges in the state of Oklahoma include questioning whether or not law enforcement charged the correct person, challenging the existence of malice aforethought or premeditation, and demonstrating that the crime occurred in the heat of passion. An Oklahoma criminal defense attorney uses these and other tactics to ensure a fair trial and best possible outcome for their client.

Employing the SODDI Defense Strategy

SODDI, an acronym for "some other dude did it", is one defense strategy for murder in the first degree. This murder defense strategy attempts to show that law enforcement has accused the wrong person of the crime. SODDI can be argued via mistaken identity in the case of an eyewitness. This strategy can also be utilized through the skilled understanding and utilization of scientific studies surrounding the intricacies of DNA evidence, if the prosecution is using DNA evidence in an attempt to tie the defendant to the crime.

Challenging Malice Aforethought

Challenging malice aforethought is a defense to first degree murder. In Oklahoma, a prosecutor must prove the defendant unlawfully caused the death of another human with “malice aforethought.” Malice aforethought must exist prior to, and at the time, of the killing. This strategy attacks the elements the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  An experienced criminal attorney will focus on the element of malice aforethought, defined as “a deliberate intention to take away the life of a human being," and show that there was no deliberate intent (such as the conduct being accidental or not intended to cause death). 

Demonstrating a Heat of Passion Crime

Both murder in the first and second degrees can be alleged as a result of “felony murder,” wherein another individual died as a result of, or during the commission of, a felony. In that case, a defense attorney would first attack the fact that his client was not in the commission of any felony, and if that is not tenable, that the underlying elements of the specific felony alleged cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Another defense to both first- and second-degree murder is to show that it was actually manslaughter due to the killing occurring while the defendant was in the heat of passion due to experiencing fear, anger, terror, rage, or resentment and that their was adequate provocation to create those emotions, along with a causal connection between the provocation and the emotional response.

What Are the Types of Murder Charges in Oklahoma?

Murder is categorized as first degree murder and second degree murder according to Oklahoma law. First degree murder involves malice aforethought and premeditation. Second degree murder does not involve malice aforethought, but involves a reckless disregard for human life.

What is First Degree Murder?

First degree murder includes murder with malice aforethought, felony murder, and child abuse murder.

The list below contains the circumstances under which someone can be charged with murder in the first degree in the state of Oklahoma.

  • 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.

What is Murder with Malice Aforethought?

Murder with malice aforethought, premeditated murder, is the intentional killing of another person in which the perpetrator has a premeditated intent to cause death or serious harm. Malice is the deliberate intent to unlawfully take the life of a human being, and is manifested by external circumstances which are capable of proof.

What is Felony Murder?

Felony murder is a first degree murder charge, regardless of malice or intent, when the death of another human being occurs during, or as a result of, specific criminal activity. The criminal activities listed below can all result in felony murder charges.

  • 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.

What is Child Abuse Murder?

Child abuse murder is the death of a child that results from willful or malicious injuring, torturing, maiming, or using unreasonable force upon a child. Child abuse murder is considered First (1st) degree murder in Oklahoma. It is defined by Title §21-701.7 of the Oklahoma statutes. These charges are most often filed in shaken baby cases.

What Is the Punishment for First Degree Murder in Oklahoma?

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.

What is the Minimum Sentence for First Degree Murder?

The minimum sentence for a conviction on charges of first degree murder is life imprisonment in the state of Oklahoma. Life imprisonment is classified as 45 years. The individual will be eligible for parole after serving 85% of the sentence.

What is Second Degree Murder?

Second degree murder means the act of one person killing another person was not committed with premeditation or “malice aforethought”. Situations that commonly lead to second degree charges are those in which someone does not plan or set out to intentionally kill another human.

The situations listed below are examples of second degree murder.

  • 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.

What is the Punishment for Second Degree Murder in Oklahoma?

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.

What is the Minimum Sentence for Second Degree Murder?

The minimum sentence for a conviction on charges of second degree murder is ten (10) years imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections in the state of Oklahoma.

What Is the Difference Between First and Second Degree Murder?

The difference between first degree murder and second degree murder in the state of Oklahoma lies in the intent of the perpetrator and circumstances of the killing. First degree murder requires premeditation and a specific intent to kill, including killings that occur during the commission of certain felonies under Oklahoma's felony murder rule, such as arson, burglary, or rape, or the intentional killing of a law enforcement officer. Second degree murder does not require premeditation. It. involves killings that result from actions that are imminently dangerous and demonstrate a depraved disregard for human life but without a specific intent to kill, or killings that occur during the commission of a felony not covered by the first degree murder felony murder rule.

What is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

The difference between murder and manslaughter is the presence of malice aforethought (premeditation) and the specific circumstances surrounding the act. Murder charges require the deliberate intention to unlawfully kill another person, either with premeditation (first degree murder), or with a reckless disregard for human life (second degree murder). Manslaughter, on the other hand involves one person killing another without malice aforethought, such as in the heat of passion, or through reckless behavior.

What is the Difference Between Murder and Homicide?

Murder is the intentional and premeditated act of one person taking the life of another. Homicide is a broad term that refers to any act of one person causing the death of another person. Homicides are categorized as lawful and unlawful (criminal homicide). Lawful homicide includes justifiable or excusable acts, such as taking someone's life in self-defense. Unlawful homicide includes criminal acts such as murder or manslaughter that demonstrate criminal intent or negligence.