When you think of the worst crime with the harshest penalties here in Oklahoma, you probably think of first-degree murder. Hollywood usually depicts this as a crime in which a person spent a significant amount of time planning the killing of another human being.
While that may be an accurate assessment of this particular form of murder, is it not the only circumstances under which an individual may face such a charge. Understanding the various factors that could lead to such an allegation may be important to you.
As already mentioned, murdering someone with “malice aforethought,” which means the intentional and deliberate killing of another person, is not the only situation in which you could face a charge of first-degree murder. Other situations include those outlined below:
- Hiring someone else to kill someone for you in order to protect an illegal drug trafficking, possession, distribution, manufacturing or dispensing operation
- Killing a child by maliciously or willfully torturing, injuring, using unreasonable force or maiming that child
- Intentionally killing an on-duty corrections officer or police officer
Authorities may accuse you of committing felony murder, which is equivalent to first-degree murder in Oklahoma, if anyone kills another person during the commission, or the attempted commission, of one of the following crimes:
- Forcible rape
- Robbery with a dangerous weapon
- Intentionally shooting a firearm into a building
- Discharging a firearm with the intent to kill
- Escape from lawful custody
- First-degree arson
- First-degree burglary
- Trafficking in illegal drugs
- Unlawful distribution of a dangerous controlled substance
As you can see, you may find yourself facing a charge of first-degree murder even if you weren’t involved in a premeditated murder. Here in Oklahoma, the penalties associated with a conviction of this crime include life in prison without parole, life imprisonment or death, depending on the circumstances.
Considering the severity of the possible punishment, it would be beneficial to exercise the right to counsel as soon as possible. If you know that you are under investigation but have not yet been arrested, it would be in your best interest to begin protecting your rights, reviewing evidence and devising a defense strategy in case you face charges. Never assume that a conviction is a done deal. Police officers, laboratory technicians and others involved in the investigation are human, which means that they can make mistakes.