Oklahoma City Homicide Attorney
Homicide refers to the act of one individual taking the life of another individual. Despite this straightforward definition, the reality is that there are many types of homicide and authorities often wrongfully charge offenders with much more serious categories of homicides than they deserve. Everyone, including those charged with homicide, murder, or manslaughter, has the right to fair due process of law. In Oklahoma and across the country, people are innocent until proven guilty. If you have been charged with any type of murder or manslaughter, do not wait to contact us. We can help protect your rights and pursue the best resolution for your case.
Homicide In Oklahoma
Oklahoma divides the act of taking a life into two primary categories: murder and manslaughter. Not all cases of homicide are criminal, such as acting in self defense, but most homicides are criminal. Typically, murder refers to an intentional act to kill often done with malice. Manslaughter occurs when an individual causes a death, but did not have the intent to kill. In most cases, the distinctions between murder and manslaughter can become blurred; however, because murder comes with much more serious penalties, the distinction is incredibly important.
Understanding Murder and Manslaughter Charges
While both manslaughter and murder are considered criminal homicide, there are other types of criminal homicide, including negligent homicide. A negligent homicide occurs when an individual’s recklessness or carelessness causes a death. Negligent homicide is often the charge when careless drivers cause fatal car accidents. Manslaughter charges are often brought in cases of drunk driving when an intoxicated driver causes a fatal roadway accident. In instances like these, the driver does not set out to intentionally take a life, but their reckless actions led to the death and can still result in lengthy prison sentences. Manslaughter charges are divided into two categories: first degree and second degree.
Oklahoma law has clear guidelines for categorizing manslaughter as first degree. First degree manslaughter occurs when any of the following are true:
- The death occurs when an individual is committing a misdemeanor
- The death occurs unintentionally “in the heat of passion”
- The death occurs as a result of unnecessary lethal force when attempting to resist a crime or after the attempt to commit a crime failed
- The death occurs as a result of an intoxicated physician or doctor
Because a first time DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor, many first degree manslaughter charges are the result of drunk driving. However, an individual with multiple DUI offenses that causes a fatal accident will not be eligible for first degree manslaughter. Second degree manslaughter is charged for acts not falling within the specific definition of first degree manslaughter. This is a bit of a catch all and can be summed up as causing the death of another when acting with criminal negligence. Manslaughter in the second degree is a lesser charge than manslaughter in the first degree, and carries a punishment of not more than four years in prison or one year in the county jail.
First and Second Degree Murder In Oklahoma
Just like manslaughter, Oklahoma law divides murder into first and second degrees. First degree murder occurs when an individual “unlawfully and with malice aforethought causes the death of another human being.” Oklahoma law goes on to define malice as the “deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a human being, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.” While this definition may seem technical, anyone with the intention to kill can be charged with first degree murder. Additionally, in some circumstances where intent is lacking, the crime can still be considered first degree murder. These can include murder during the commission of other crimes like armed robbery, rape, kidnapping, arson, drug trafficking, and escaping lawful custody.
Second degree murder is reserved for deaths that occur in one of two circumstances: (1) the death is caused by an “act imminently dangerous to another person and evincing a depraved mind,” or (2) when the death is caused during the commission of a felony not specified in the first degree murder statute. Second degree murder is often used for individuals with multiple DUI convictions that cause a fatal car crash among other circumstances.
Our Past Successes
Our law firm isn’t afraid to take complicated cases. We’ve taken on multiple homicide cases and delivered favorable results for our clients. In one instance, we represented a client charged with one count of negligent homicide for causing the death of another while operating a vehicle in a reckless and careless manner. The client was additionally charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute a quantity of marijuana, a felony offense. A personalized plan was developed for the client, which ultimately achieved a reduction of all charges to misdemeanor offenses. Mr. McLawhorn was able to resolve the client’s case in a non-conviction format, meaning the client received a deferred sentence on all counts. The client avoided jail time, prison time, and the imposition of either a felony or misdemeanor conviction. The client’s criminal record will remain untarnished, and his case will be dismissed at the conclusion of the deferred period.
In another case, the client was charged with murder in the first degree. The client was subsequently found not guilty by reason of insanity after Mr. McLawhorn investigated the facts surrounding the murder and employed an expert in the area of psychological examination.
Contact A Murder and Manslaughter Defense Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide, do not wait to contact us. We can help protect your rights and build the best defense possible. Call Taylor McLawhorn Attorney at Law today.