Oklahoma Murder Laws
Murder is the most severe classification of homicide under Oklahoma law. Instances of murder generally involve a wanton disregard for human life, and the punishments for conviction can include life imprisonment or even the death penalty, depending on the details of the case.
First Degree vs. Second Degree Murder
Murder charges are classified as either first degree or second degree. The main differences between first and second degree murder are premeditation and intent. In a first degree murder case, the alleged killer gave thought to the act beforehand and acted with intention to end life.
It is important to note that premeditation does not necessarily mean days, weeks or months of planning and preparation; premeditation can occur immediately prior to the act. As long as the person acts with an intention to kill another human, he or she can be charged with murder in the first degree.
Other Acts of First Degree Murder
Not all instances of first degree murder include premeditated intent. Under Oklahoma law, certain instances of homicide may be considered first degree murder if they occur during the commission of a felony crime—even if there was no intention or plan to kill someone. These include:
- Homicide that occurs during armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon
- Homicide that occurs during an act of forcible rape
- Homicide that occurs during the commission of first degree arson
- Homicide that occurs as a result of child abuse
The laws surrounding murder are nuanced. Typically, a prosecutor is going to file the most severe charge with which he or she thinks a jury will concur. Even if there was no intent or premeditation involved in a homicide, the prosecution can still pursue a first degree murder charge, depending on the situation. However, in some cases, the charge may be filed as second degree murder.
Second Degree Murder
Generally, second degree murder occurs during the commission of a felony that is not otherwise mentioned under the first degree murder statute. For instance, a person who causes death as a result of driving under the influence may face a second degree murder charge if he or she has at least one prior DUI conviction.
If you or a loved one has been charged with homicide, it is imperative to seek out legal counsel as soon as possible. To speak with an attorney regarding your case, contact the Hunsucker Legal Group by filling out our online form or calling our office. You can schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss the details of your case and learn how we can help you.