We have all heard the term “manslaughter” before; imagine a television crime drama where the defendant accepts a manslaughter plea. Manslaughter, like other Oklahoma crimes, is categorized by degree, with first degree manslaughter being the most serious form of manslaughter in Muskogee. Here is what you need to know if you or a loved one are facing charges.
First Degree Manslaughter Defined
Manslaughter is different from murder, though both are homicides that involve the death of another person. Intent plays a large part in the difference between manslaughter and murder.
First degree manslaughter is defined as a death that occurs in the face of one of three possible circumstances:
- when committed without an intent or plan to effectuate the death by a person who is engaged in the commission of a misdemeanor;
- when committed without an intent or plan to effectuate the death by a person in a heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner, or by means of a dangerous weapon — unless it is committed under such circumstances that constitute excusable or justifiable homicide; or
- when perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime or after such attempt shall have failed.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 711
For the crime to be deemed manslaughter as opposed to murder, there must be no intent or plan to kill the victim. There is no “malice aforethought” or “depraved mind” which indicates premeditation or the intent to kill.
Misdemeanor Manslaughter In Muskogee
When a death occurs during the commission of a misdemeanor in Muskogee, the crime is charged as manslaughter. The misdemeanor must be the direct and proximate cause of death. This is often an accidental death.
For example, a driver strikes and kills a pedestrian when the driver is traveling at 40 mph in a 20 mph zone. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in Oklahoma. The death is the proximate cause of the misdemeanor here, and the death is accidental.
Heat Of Passion
This is the typical scenario of a jealous spouse catching their partner in the heat of sex with another.
For example, a husband is out for a drink with friends and sees his wife kissing another man passionately. He grabs her hard and shakes her screaming at her. He shoves her; she slips and hits her head on the edge of the bar and dies.
The husband was not thinking rationally while in the heat of passion and had no specific intent to kill her, but his actions did result in her death.
Lethal force manslaughter happens most often when resisting another person’s attempt at committing a crime. Here is an example of how that might look.
Your home is being burgled in the middle of the night. You hear the entry and reach for a gun to protect your family and shoot the person.
A person may defend their home and the people in it, but lethal force in defense of property or to resist a crime that would not kill the victim is against the law.
Penalties For First Degree Manslaughter In Muskogee
First degree manslaughter is a felony in Oklahoma. The crime is punishable by at least four years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 715.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help. There may be defenses that are available to you. Your Muskogee attorney can help craft a strong defense based on the circumstances of your case.
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