When we leave the world of TV crime dramas and step into the realities of living in our communities, we hear the terms homicide, murder, and manslaughter in Oklahoma. But how many of us really understand what those terms mean and the legal differences between them? And yet, those differences can be big, especially if we or a loved one are facing criminal charges for the death of another person.
A homicide is a death of a person which is caused by another. Homicides are often classified by the circumstances surrounding the death, from justifiable homicide to first-degree murder. When there is no intent to kill, but a death occurs anyway, that is usually manslaughter in Oklahoma.
Manslaughter In Oklahoma Defined
In Oklahoma, manslaughter may be of the first or second degree. First-degree manslaughter is the more serious crime of the two. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 §§ 711, 716
In Oklahoma, first-degree manslaughter is defined as a death that occurs in the face of one of three possible sets of circumstances:
- during the commission of a misdemeanor with no specific intent to kill;
- in the heat of passion under circumstances in which the homicide is not justified or excused, and the death occurs in a cruel and unusual manner; or
- by means of a dangerous weapon; when the death occurred unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime; or after that attempt has failed. For example, lethal force against a home invasion.
The intent required for first and second-degree murder — “malice aforethought” and “depraved mind” — are missing from manslaughter. This missing intent is what separates the crimes.
No specific intent to kill is needed to charge a person when a death occurs during the commission of a misdemeanor. This is the typical petit theft that goes horribly wrong or another crime along those lines. Any misdemeanor can be used as the underlying offense, and the underlying misdemeanor must be the direct and proximate cause of death.
Heat Of Passion Manslaughter
This is always the scenario we imagine. An enraged husband who catches his partner in a sexually compromised situation picks up a weapon in the heat of passion and suddenly a person is dead. There must not be sufficient time for the defendant to have cooled off between the time the defendant comes upon the couple and the time of the death. If there is a cooling off period, that person will likely be charged with murder.
Another Type Of Manslaughter: The Intoxicated Doctor
There is one other scenario giving rise to a charge of first-degree manslaughter: the intoxicated physician who administers a poison, drug or medicine, or does any other act as a physician that results in the death of the patient. This usually happens as a mistake.
First-degree manslaughter is a felony in Oklahoma and is punishable by a term of no less than four years in prison.
If you are facing charges of first-degree manslaughter, it is imperative that you hire an experienced Stillwater criminal defense attorney. The prosecution will work hard to get a conviction. You should work just as hard at keeping your freedom.
Free Consultation With A Stillwater OK Attorney
Wirth Law Office – Stillwater is here to help you when you need it the most.
We offer a free consultation with an experienced Stillwater OK attorney to help you defend your legal rights. Don’t try to handle your legal matter by yourself.
Call 405-673-1600 for a free consultation or submit a question through this website.