Though you may assume all forms of homicide are considered the same under the eyes of the law in Oklahoma, this is not true. In reality, there are different types of charges and varying degrees of severity. As such, it’s necessary to understand the differences between murder and manslaughter in Oklahoma. If you are facing charges for an act of homicide, you must connect with an OKC criminal defense lawyer to explore your legal options. Keep reading to learn how these charges differ and the penalties you can face if convicted.

How Do Murder and Manslaughter Differ?

When you commit homicide, it can be charged as either manslaughter or murder. Generally, the difference in these charges lies in intent.

In Oklahoma, someone commits manslaughter when they unintentionally kill another person while committing a misdemeanor crime, resisting a crime, or in the “heat of the moment.” Generally, this refers to a crime of passion in which one partner discovers that their significant other is having an affair, and immediately upon discovery, kills the affair partner in a fit of rage.

Murder, on the other hand, is charged with anyone who intentionally sets out to kill another person. Generally, this must be premeditated, meaning the alleged defendant had previously thought about killing the victim or created plans to carry out the act. For example, if you kill someone and it’s discovered you purchased a gun to do so, this would prove that the act was premeditated, constituting a murder charge.

What Are the Penalties for These Crimes?

Murder and manslaughter can both be charged as first or second-degree crimes, based on the circumstances surrounding the offense. For example, if you kill someone while driving under the influence, this is a first-degree manslaughter charge, while your animal killing another person warrants a second-degree charge. For a first-degree charge, you can face a minimum of four years to life in prison, while a second-degree charge warrants between two and four years behind bars.

A second-degree murder charge warrants between ten years to life in prison. However, the sentence for a first-degree murder charge is much more intense, warranting a life sentence with the potential for the death penalty.

When you are charged with a crime like manslaughter or murder, it’s imperative to connect with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. These charges can be overwhelming, and an attorney can explore your legal options to determine the best course of action. In some instances, this can be determining the best defense for your circumstances or working with the prosecutor to negotiate a plea bargain.

At the Jones Firm, PLLC, our dedicated legal team will do everything in our power to assist you through these complex times. Connect with us today to discuss your circumstances and learn how we will fight for you.