Oklahoma treats murder seriously. The purposeful taking of a life is considered to be one of the most heinous crimes that can be committed. Oklahoma is a state that categorizes murder into first- and second-degree classifications, with first-degree murder the most serious.
Murder In the First Degree: Specific Situations
The life is taken unlawfully and with “malice aforethought.” This is defined as having the deliberate intention to take a person’s life, proven by external facts and circumstances.
This is your typically planned and premeditated murder. For instance, a woman decides that she wants to kill her husband and collect his life insurance. She plans out the murder and then executes her plan.
Felony Murder Rule
The death takes place during the commission of a felony or as a result of the commission an attempted murder, the discharge of a firearm or other deadly weapon into a building or with intent to kill, from forcible rape, robbery with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping, escape from lawful custody by law enforcement officials, eluding an officer, first-degree arson, unlawfully distributing, manufacturing, or trafficking in illegal drugs or other controlled dangerous substances.
As long as you are involved in the commission of one of these felonies, you could be convicted of first-degree murder, even if you did not directly cause the death. Nor does the prosecution have to prove intent. All the prosecution must show is that your conduct caused the death.
The felony murder rule has also been extended under Oklahoma case law to murders that occur during the commission of a felony by a co-felon. For example, five men rob a bank. All five are carrying guns, but only one of the five actually shoots and kills a person inside the bank. All five of the men may be convicted of first-degree murder under the felony murder rule.
Willful torture of a child resulting in death
When a person willfully and maliciously tortures or uses unreasonable force, or enables such harm to come to come to a child, and the child dies, both the perpetrator and the enabler may be convicted of first-degree murder.
Death Involved With Drugs
The death occurs as a result of a person unlawfully and with malice, solicits the death to further the unlawful manufacture, distribution or dispensing of any controlled dangerous substance.
Intentional Killing of Law Enforcement
This is the intentional killing of any law enforcement or correctional officer or other law enforcement employee in the performance of official duties. This could involve a killing during an arrest or prison escape, for example.
Penalty For Murder in the First Degree
First-degree murder is a capital offense in Oklahoma. It is punishable by death or life in prison without parole, and is subject to the 85% Rule. That means that if convicted, you will serve 85 percent of your sentence.
Defenses to First-Degree Murder
There are a number of defenses that may be available to you, such as:
Self Defense or Defense of another.
This is basically justifiable homicide and is available under certain circumstances if you reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to protect yourself or another from imminent death or great physical harm.
The homicide occurs as in the discharge of duty and is necessary. This is often the situation with police officers in the execution of their duties.
Lack of Intent
Malice aforethought is the intent. If the killing lacks intent — i.e., was accidental — there can be no conviction for first degree murder.
Free Consultation: Wagoner Criminal Defense Attorney
When you or someone you care about is facing charges for this or any other crime in the Wagoner, Oklahoma, area or any of the surrounding counties, the criminal defense lawyers at Wirth Law Office – Wagoner are here to provide you a free consultation to discuss what our team could do to handle your criminal matter.
Contact us at (918) 485-0335 to schedule your confidential and no-cost consultation. You may also contact us by email using the form at the top of this page. Either way, you reach out to our team, we’ll get back to you promptly to answer your legal questions.