Murder 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.
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.
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.
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