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Explaining the difference between first- and second-degree murder

Facing murder/homicide charges is undoubtedly one of the most frightening things an Oklahoma resident can experience. Defendants in these cases have a great many fears, and rightfully so. After all, a successful conviction on any murder charge will have a long-lasting -- if not permanent -- effect on their entire lives.

Overcoming murder/homicide charges is the top goal a defendant has in these cases. Building a defense is the first priority and getting help from a criminal defense attorney is critical. With representation from a lawyer, defendants facing murder charges have access to experience, courtroom strategy, advocacy and much-needed support. When these elements come together, a defendant has the best possible chance of escaping a conviction and continuing to live free.

Learning more about the charges helps defendants in at least two ways. First, it provides them with more education about the justice system. Second, it helps to allay some of their fears by focusing their attention on a worthy subject. For example, defendants facing first-degree or second-degree murder charges often do not understand the difference between the two. By learning about the differences, the defendant will be better equipped to participate in his or her defense.

First-degree murder is the more serious of the two charges and typically revolves around intent. If a person plans the killing of another person and then engages in the plan, it is first-degree murder because the defendant intended to kill the other person.

In second-degree murder, the element of intent is not present. For example, if a defendant accidentally causes a death, perhaps because of reckless or criminal behavior, it will probably result in a second-degree murder charge. In either case, a proper criminal defense is crucial in overcoming the ordeal or having the charges reduced.

Source: FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog, "Difference Between First and Second Degree Murder?," Stephanie Rabiner, accessed April 20, 2018

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