First-degree murder is a very serious charge that can lead to a host of legal issues. A person who is facing this charge is looking at the possibility of life in prison if they are convicted. The death penalty is also possible in Oklahoma. These harsh sentences mean that those who are charged with this crime need to work diligently on a defense strategy that can work to either minimize the penalties or prove the person wasn’t guilty of the crime.
In order to convict a person of first-degree murder, the prosecutors have to prove that the person willfully killed a person or that the defendant’s commission of a felony lead to the death of the victim. Unless the killing was the result of a felony act, taking the victim’s life has to be premeditated, which means thought of and planned beforehand.
It is possible for a murder to be premeditated and willful even if the intent wasn’t to the kill that specific victim. This means, for example, that if a person shoots a gun into the air during a gang fight and it kills an innocent bystander instead of a rival gang member, the killing could be considered premeditated and willful.
There are a few exceptions to these requirements. For example, an incident of unreasonable force that claims the life of a child might be considered first-degree murder. The killing of a police officer or one that comes due to a pattern of domestic violence can also fall under this category.
When you are planning your defense strategy, you need to consider the claims of the prosecution and the occurrences of the event. This might give you areas of focus that you can use to try to introduce reasonable doubt into the prosecutor’s claims.