Tahlequah Attorney BlogWhat Is Second Degree Murder In Oklahoma?

second degree murder in OklahomaMurder is one of the most serious crimes that anyone can ever face. All courts treat the taking of another life with the utmost gravity. However, there is a difference between a homicide and a murder. In essence, all murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders. Homicide is the taking of a life. Murder is the taking of a life plus something else. Here is what you need to know about second degree murder in Oklahoma.

Defining Second Degree Murder In Oklahoma

A homicide becomes second degree murder in Oklahoma when the killing occurs as a result of an act that is imminently dangerous to another person without any evidence of an intent to kill or premeditation. The killer may show a “depraved mind” or a careless disregard or indifference for human life by engaging in their conduct. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 701.8

“Depraved mind” is shown when a person engages in imminently dangerous conduct with a reckless disregard for, and total indifference to, the life and safety of another person.

It is important to note that though this conduct may take a life, there is no specific intent to kill or premeditation. If the defendant is shown to have either a specific intent to kill or premeditation, the crime is charged as first degree murder.

Second degree murder can also be charged when the killing occurs during the commission of a felony. This is known as the felony murder rule.

Elements Of The Crime

Every element of a crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of second degree murder are:

  • the death of a person
  • caused by the imminently dangerous conduct
  • of the defendant;
  • the conduct evinced a depraved mind in extreme disregard of human life; and
  • the conduct was not done with the intention of taking the life of any particular individual.

OUJI-CR 4-91

Facts that disprove any element of the crime constitute a defense to the crime. Lacking sufficient proof often leads to a dismissal of the charges or a plea bargain for a lesser offense.

Imminent Danger

Imminently dangerous conduct is conduct which a reasonable person would consider to have a very high degree of risk of death to another person. The risk must be immediate.

Thus, shooting a gun into a crowd of people or into an occupied building is an example of the kind of act that could be charged as second degree murder if a death occurs as a result.

Absence Of Premeditation

There must be no premeditation or “malice aforethought” for the act to be charged as second degree murder. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 701.7

Felony Murder Rule

If the death occurs as a result of an act committed during the commission of a felony in Tahlequah, a person can be charged with second degree murder. No specific intent is required. For example, if a death occurs as a result of a rape or robbery, a defendant can be charged with murder under this rule.

Penalty For Second Degree Murder

If convicted, a defendant may serve anywhere from 10 years to life in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 701.9

The crime also falls under the 85% Rule. Under this rule, you must serve at least 85% of your sentenced time. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 13.1

Murder charges carry stiff penalties in Oklahoma. If you are facing charges for second degree murder, talk to a Tahlequah attorney today.

Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer

Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you’ve been charged with second degree murder in Oklahoma.

For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll free at 1-888-447-7262.

Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.

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