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Potential defense strategies for a murder charge

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2023 | CRIMINAL LAW - Criminal Defense, CRIMINAL LAW - Criminal Law

If you are under arrest for murder, you may be wondering what your legal options are. This is a serious charge, and the penalties are severe and often life changing.

There are various defense strategies that may be effective in getting the charges completely dropped or, at minimum, reduce the charges for a less severe sentence.

Various murder charges and associated penalties

The State of Oklahoma describes the various types of murder charges and the potential penalties for conviction. The most serious charge is first-degree murder. Penalties may include death or life imprisonment, with or without parole. The punishment for second-degree murder is prison time of between 10 years and life. The punishment for first-degree murder solicitation is imprisonment for between five years and life.

For first-degree manslaughter, the punishment is a minimum of four years in prison. The punishment for second-degree manslaughter is either between two and four years in prison or a maximum jail time of one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

Potential defense arguments

FindLaw discusses three main tactics used to argue murder charges:

  • Failure to prove: To prove first-degree murder, the prosecution must present and prove specific elements. The inability to prove even one element may result in a reduction of charges.
  • Mistaken identity: Some arguments for this tactic include providing an alibi or presenting evidence that potentially implicates a different subject. Challenging forensic evidence or witness statements are additional strategies.
  • Justification: These arguments justify the killing of another individual. The most common justification is self-defense, although others include battered woman syndrome, exercise of duty or defense of others.

Partial defenses do not lead to acquittal, but they may reduce the sentence. Some examples include accidental killing, crime of passion and emotional distress.