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Oklahoma Involuntary Manslaughter Law

In Oklahoma's criminal code, there are four types of homicides listed: murder, manslaughter, excusable homicide, and justifiable homicide. Manslaughter is then subcategorized into voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. This article provides a quick overview of Oklahoma's involuntary manslaughter laws.

What's the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

Malice (the intent or desire to cause death or serious bodily harm) is the main difference between murder and manslaughter. In most states, murder is defined as the unlawful killing of another with malice (under specified circumstances that differ from state to state), while manslaughter encompasses unlawful killings that are done without malice.

Oklahoma's Second-Degree Manslaughter Laws

Second-degree manslaughter (referred to as involuntary manslaughter in some other states) generally criminalizes homicides that result from recklessness or criminal negligence. For example, if Bob owns a lion and knows that the lion has a propensity to attack joggers but nevertheless keeps his lion behind a short fence in a residential neighborhood, Bob would likely be guilty of second-degree manslaughter when his lion kills a jogger.

The following table outlines Oklahoma's second-degree manslaughter laws.

Code Section

Oklahoma Code section 21-716: Manslaughter in the Second Degree

What's Prohibited?

Second-degree manslaughter occurs when a human is killed by an offender's act, procurement, or culpable negligence if the killing doesn't qualify as murder, first-degree manslaughter, or justifiable homicide.

Owner of Animal that Kills a Person


If a person knows that his animal has a propensity for violence and willfully allows the animal to go at large, or keeps it without ordinary care, then when the animal kills a victim (who took all of the precautions which the circumstances permitted in order to avoid the animal), the animal's owner is guilty of second-degree manslaughter.


Felony. Punishable by imprisonment for between two and four years in the State Penitentiary, imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, or by a fine of up to $1,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.

Proof Necessary for a Manslaughter Conviction

Under Oklahoma's manslaughter laws the prosecution must prove both the death of the victim and the fact of the killing by the accused beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the defendant to be convicted of manslaughter. This standard essentially means that a defendant can't be convicted if there is any reasonable doubt about the guilt of the defendant after closely considering all of the evidence presented at trial.

Additional Resources

For case specific information regarding Oklahoma's involuntary manslaughter law contact a local criminal defense attorney.

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