What is involuntary manslaughter?
Involuntary manslaughter in Oklahoma is an unintentional killing that is considered a homicide. It is a crime of negligence. However, if negligence can’t be proven, it’s an excusable homicide that can’t be punished.
A possible example is if someone breaks into your house in Chickasha and you wrestle with him. He has a gun, and the gun goes off, killing him.
The absence of intent affects if and how homicide is charged. While the absence of intent alone doesn’t mean a homicide is lawful, it isn’t murder.
Unlike murder, manslaughter is death without intent to kill. Like murder, manslaughter is divided into first- and second-degree. Both types are considered felonies.
First-degree manslaughter in Grady County involves cruelty, undue force, or dangerous weapons. It is homicide without intent to kill. It also lacks malice aforethought (premeditation) and a depraved mind.
It can occur during a misdemeanor if someone committing the crime unintentionally kills someone. For example, if you’re driving recklessly and you hit another car, killing the driver.
It can also occur in the heat of passion, cruelly and unusually, or with a dangerous weapon. For example, if you catch your wife cheating on you and you react violently, possibly with a weapon, killing her.
Another occurrence is when resisting a criminal act or following a failed criminal attempt. For example, if you interrupt a home invasion and the intruder surrenders, you kill them anyway.
Unlike first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter doesn’t include undue force or cruelty. It also lacks a dangerous weapon and doesn’t show depraved disregard for human life.
While second-degree manslaughter in Oklahoma isn’t considered as serious as first-degree, it’s still neither an excusable nor justifiable homicide.
Second-degree manslaughter lacks the intent to harm, but it disregards the risks that someone could get hurt (negligence).
For example, two men argue at the top of the staircase, and one pushes the other. He falls down the stairs and dies. While the man who pushed him may not have meant to hurt or kill him, he should’ve considered that they were at the top of a staircase.
A Note on Second-Degree Murder
Second-degree murder in Oklahoma is different from both types of manslaughter. It is considered a worse crime, with more severe punishments.
It results from an imminently dangerous act that shows a disregard for human life. It also shows a depraved mind. Unlike first-degree murder, it isn’t premeditated.
For example, one man rear-ends another man. They pull off the road and get out of their cars. Then the guy who got rear-ended pulls out a gun and shoots the other man. Unlike the example of the man pushing a man down the stairs, this man intended to kill.
How is manslaughter punished?
Both first- and second-degree manslaughter in Oklahoma are felonies. First-degree manslaughter has a minimum sentence of four years in prison. It is also subject to the 85% rule that requires you to serve at least 85% of your sentence before you can be released.
Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by a year in Grady County jail or 2-4 years in Oklahoma prison. A $1,000 fine may be added to jail time or substituted.
If you’ve been charged with manslaughter in Chickasha, it’s important to understand what that means. You should also retain a criminal defense attorney.