In Oklahoma law, homicide is defined as the killing of one human being by another. Oklahoma’s homicide statute defines four classifications of homicide. Homicide is unlawful in only two of the four classifications.
Types of Illegal Homicide in Oklahoma
Murder and manslaughter are crimes in Oklahoma. Each is classified as either first or second degree.
First-degree murder requires intent to kill. For that reason, it is often called “premeditated murder.” Second-degree murder is an unintended killing resulting from depraved carelessness or during commission of a felony.
First-degree manslaughter is an unintentional killing either during commission of a misdemeanor, in the heat of passion but cruelly or with a weapon, or unnecessarily while trying to stop an attempted crime. An intoxicated doctor who causes the death of a patient can also be charged with first-degree manslaughter.
Second-degree manslaughter in Oklahoma is any other unlawful killing not described as first- or second-degree murder or first-degree homicide.
Whether first or second degree, any manslaughter charge could be considered involuntary manslaughter in Oklahoma.
Types of Lawful Homicide in Oklahoma
It can seem counter-intuitive, but not all homicide is illegal. Homicides that are lawful in Oklahoma are classified as either justifiable homicide or excusable homicide.
Excusable homicides are accidental deaths. Fatalities of this type are often called death by misadventure. In Oklahoma law, the term used is misfortune. Deaths by accident or misfortune can be excusable when they occur during any lawful activity conducted with usual caution and no unlawful intent.
Deaths during a fight can also be classified as excusable. The difference between involuntary manslaughter and excusable homicide resulting from mutual combat can be subtle. They are differences often left for juries to decide.
An homicide resulting from a fist-fight might be excusable if it occurred in the heat of passion, after a sudden provocation or during sudden combat where no weapon or undue advantage is taken. Cruel or unusual conduct, however, can derail a claim that a death during a sudden fight was excusable.
Justifiable homicide in Oklahoma is the use of deadly force by a police officer within the scope of lawful police duties, or by an individual protecting their own life or dwelling, or to stop the commission of a forcible felony. Certain homicides occurring during a individuals attempt to apprehend a person who committed a felony can also be deemed justifiable homicide.
Free Consultation: Oklahoma Homicide Defense Attorney
When a person is dead and another is answering police questions about their role in the death, the stakes could not be higher. Statements made to police in the heat of the moment, often during the moments after some disorienting violent incident, can have grave implications. What you say to police can even make the difference between going home after answering questions or a long court battle that could wind up in a life sentence.
When police and prosecutors are classifying a homicide death, you need a strong criminal defense attorney to protect your interests. Contact a Tulsa criminal attorney immediately for a confidential, no-cost consultation, or rush your inquiry to our office using the email form provided on this page.