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