Is there such a thing as justifiable homicide? In the eyes of the law, yes.
There are certain circumstances in which killing another person might not constitute a crime.
Justifiable homicide is defined as the “no-fault” killing of another person, because killing the person was necessary to save your own life or the life of someone else. What justifiable homicides lack when compared to regular homicides is criminal intent. Self-defense shootings, capital punishment, and some deadly police shootings are a few examples of justifiable homicide.
If you are a store owner and someone comes in and tries to rob you at gunpoint, if you shoot and kill the suspect, that could be a case of justifiable homicide. If a police officer is pursuing a criminal suspect and the suspect threatens to use or uses physical force against the office, that could be another case of justifiable homicide.
What is justifiable homicide in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, a homicide is justified when it’s committed by someone in any of the following situations:
- When you are resisting the person’s attempts to murder you or commit a felony against you
- When you are legally defending yourself or someone else against the person you killed, because you reasonably believed that lethal force was necessary to prevent your own death or great bodily harm, or to stop the person from committing a forcible felony. Forcible felony is defined as any felony that involves the use of or threat of physical force or violence against someone else.
- When the homicide was necessary because you were trying, “by lawful ways and means,” to detain someone for committing a felony, or because you were trying to lawfully suppress a riot or preserve the peace.
What is Oklahoma’s “Make My Day” Law?
In some states, it’s referred to as the Castle Doctrine, based on the platitude that a man’s home is his castle. In Oklahoma, it’s more commonly called the “Make My Day” law, presumably thanks to Clint Eastwood’s famous phrase — Go ahead, make my day — in “Dirty Harry.”
It’s essentially an expansion of Oklahoma’s existing self-defense and justifiable homicide laws. It’s based on the premise that Oklahomans should be able to feel “absolute safety” in their home, business or personal vehicle.
- The Make My Day law states that someone who has “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” when another person illegally enters your home or business is justified in using deadly force.
- This does not apply if the person you defended yourself against has a right to be in the home, vehicle or business (owner, title holder, etc.) and there is no protective order in place. This also does not apply if you were engaged in unlawful activity or were using the home, business or vehicle to further illegal acts.
It’s important to understand that you cannot insert yourself into a violent or potentially violent situation, then shoot someone in self defense. For example, if you start arguing with someone inside a bar, then go out in the parking lot to fight them, if you shoot them during a fight, it is not self-defense or justifiable homicide.
Justifiable homicide is not often a clear-cut case, and it almost always requires the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney to navigate the case. If you or someone you love was involved in a case of justifiable homicide, contact Jacqui Ford’s office today.