First Degree Manslaughter: It’s a Matter of Intent
We hear the term “manslaughter” often. It is on the news, in newspapers and on our favorite television police dramas. Unless you have had a reason to deal with it, you may not know what first degree manslaughter really means. Here are some things you may want to know about how this crime is handled in Oklahoma.
Manslaughter is a way of classifying death at the hands of another. A homicide is a death that is caused by another person. Some of those rise to the level of murder, where there is an intent to kill. When there is no intent to kill, but a death occurs anyway, that is usually manslaughter.
First degree manslaughter is defined as a death that occurs in the face of one of three possible criteria: the death occurs during the commission of a misdemeanor; or the death occurs in the heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner and the homicide was not justified or excused; or by means of a dangerous weapon, or when the death occurred unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after that attempt has failed. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 711.
All the criteria require that the death occurred without intent or “malice aforethought” and without the “depraved mind” which are the hallmarks of first and second degree murder under Oklahoma law.
When a death occurs during the commission of a misdemeanor, there is no other specific intent requirement in order to charge the crime as manslaughter. Any misdemeanor can be used as the underlying offense. The underlying misdemeanor must be the direct and proximate cause of death.
If you are driving a vehicle recklessly and cause the death of another, you will likely be charged with negligent homicide. But if you are intoxicated and kill a person while driving, you would be charged with first degree manslaughter.
Heat of Passion Manslaughter
Heat of passion is the form of manslaughter we always think of. An enraged husband who catches his partner in a sexually compromised situation and who causes the death of one or both may be convicted of first degree manslaughter if the killing was impulsive. In this situation, the husband would have to be so affected that he was not thinking rationally, but rather, was acting in the heat of passion.
This scenario may happen in the resisting of another’s attempt at committing a crime. The most obvious situation is when lethal force is used against an attempted burglary or home invasion. In Oklahoma, lethal force in defense of property is against the law.
The Intoxicated Doctor
There is one other scenario giving rise to a charge of first degree manslaughter: the intoxicated physician who administers any poison, drug or medicine, or does any other act as a physician that results in the death of the patient. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 712. This usually happens as a mistake.
First degree manslaughter is a felony in Wagoner, Oklahoma and is punishable by a term of not less than four years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 715.
Any time in prison is serious. If you are facing charges for first degree manslaughter, it is imperative you hire an experienced Wagoner criminal defense attorney to zealously represent you. The prosecution will bring their “A game.” You should too.
Call for a Free Consultation With An Experienced Wagoner Criminal Attorney
Your freedom is precious. Protect it. For a free consultation with a Wagoner, Oklahoma criminal lawyer call the Wirth Law Office – Wagoner at (918) 485-0335 or toll-free at (888) Wirth-Law. Or, as always, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page.