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Oklahoma Second-Degree Murder

A homicide occurs whenever one person takes the life of another, regardless of the killer's intent or the surrounding circumstances. A homicide can be a crime (for example killing someone with your car while you're driving drunk), but under some circumstances (for example state-sanctioned executions) the homicide does not constitute a crime.

Under Oklahoma's criminal code there are five classifications of homicide: murder, manslaughter, excusable homicide, and justifiable homicide. The crime of murder (or the unjustifiable killing of another) is subcategorized into first and second-degree murder in Oklahoma based on the circumstances under which the killing took place. This article focuses on the crime of second-degree murder.

The following chart highlights Oklahoma's second-degree murder statute.

Code Section

Oklahoma Penal Code section 21-701.8: Murder in the Second Degree

What's Prohibited?

Homicide is murder in the second degree in the following cases:
  1. When a killing is done by an act that is imminently dangerous to another person and indicates a "depraved mind," although done without "premeditation," or
  1. When a killing is committed by a person engaged in a felony (other then those set out in section 1, subsection B).

Definition of a "Depraved Mind?"

Thoughts marked by moral corruption or perversion. These thoughts are shown by a capacity for extreme and deliberate physical cruelty.

Definition of "Premeditation"


Considering or planning an act beforehand.



Felony. Punishable by imprisonment for at least ten years and at most imprisonment for life.

Accessory to Murder

Under Oklahoma's criminal law there are two types of parties that can be held liable for a crime: principals and accessories. Think about it like this, a principal can be anyone who either commits the crime or aids and abets in its commission (even if they are not present when the crime is committed), and accessories are people who conceal or aid a principal after the crime is committed so that the principal can escape or avoid punishment. The accessory must have had knowledge that the principal committed a felony.

For example, if you know that your friend has committed second-degree murder and you let him hide out in your apartment so that the police won't find him, you are now an accessory to second-degree murder. The punishment in Oklahoma for being an accessory to second-degree murder is imprisonment for between five and 25 years.

Additional Resources

For case specific information regarding Oklahoma's first-degree murder law contact a local criminal defense attorney.

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