Oklahoma City Murder Defense Lawyer - Jacqui Ford law oklahoma city

Oklahoma City Murder Defense Lawyer

If you’re in Oklahoma City or the Oklahoma state area and you’ve been charged with murder, you’ve big, big problems on your hands. It’s important to find out as soon as possible what your rights are and how we can move forward in defending them.

There are all kinds of different murders that we all think about – levels of murder. But, in Oklahoma, we really only have two: that’s murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree.

From experienced criminal defense lawyer Jacqui Ford, here’s what you need to know about murder charges in Oklahoma.

Murder in the First Degree in Oklahoma

If we’re charged with murder in the first degree, one of two things the government is alleging.

  1. Either, this crime was committed with malice aforethought, which means that you planned it, and you thought about it, and you executed that plan.
  2. Or, that this murder occurred during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony.

When you hear it on the news, people use the language of the felony murder rule. The felony murder rule picks up more murder charges than most other types of murders here in Oklahoma. And that’s because the legislature has decided if you are engaged in behavior that is so inherently dangerous that you should be able to foresee a death occurring, and a death occurs, whether you did it, or your co-defendant did it, or the person that’s actually being shot at committed the homicide, the perpetrator of the underlying felony can, and will, be charged with murder in the first degree.

It’s kind of a head-scratcher. It goes against what we naturally think about when we think about murder in the first degree. Most of us think when you’re charged with murder in Oklahoma, that you must have had some sort of evil intent, or malice aforethought.

One of the interesting things to know is that malice aforethought, and that intent, can happen in Oklahoma, in a second. There’s no need that you plan it, or think about it. Your decision to take someone else’s life can happen in a moment’s time. And that is the same charge as if you were plotting and planning it for months on end.

That’s incredibly scary, because in that very moment that you make a decision to either pull the trigger, or slash that knife, or engage in whatever activity that’s given rise to the death of this individual, you are now facing very, very serious punishment.

Punishments for Murder in Oklahoma

Punishment for murder in the first degree in Oklahoma is very simple – minimum life in prison; maximum penalty, death.

The only thing in between is life without the possibility of parole.

Life without the possibility of parole is an incredibly harsh, oftentimes, deemed unjust punishment. Because people who engage in this activity, unfortunately, oftentimes are young people. They’re young people whose brains haven’t even developed so much that they can do a nice cost-benefit analysis of whether, or not, to engage in the behavior that they’re engaged in.

Life without the possibility of parole is the thing that drives most people into pleading guilty to a murder charge, even if they’re not guilty. It’s a very, very scary proposition because that judgment is very final. And it leaves very little room for a jury to justify some of your actions, or mitigate the fact that you were young and inexperienced. Or that you suffer from mental health illnesses. Or that you do not have the requisite education to make a cognizant decision.

Negotiating a Plea on Murder Charges

All of these things matter for the purposes of negotiating a plea on murder charges.

They do not matter when a jury is assessing punishment. They are not given the opportunity to reduce your sentence because you’re a 17-year-old who functions at a seventh-grade level. And you have mental health issues and a life and history of abuse.

In Oklahoma, the law doesn’t care.

Why Are Murder Charges So Different?

The thing about murder is that the sound, the word, always drives home a very different feeling to the listener than any other charge.

Many lawyers find themselves a little intimidated by taking on a murder case because the stakes are so high. People who are charged with murder feel like it’s a greater challenge to defeat because, again the stakes are so high. But even more importantly, the risks are very, very high.

That’s why it’s important that you find an attorney who has experience in defending murder cases — not only defending them in front of a jury, and successfully, but someone who is experienced in negotiating murder cases for the purposes of a plea agreement.

And what does that look like?

When we take away the overlying fear that someone is dead and that someone is facing life in prison, it’s just a simple assault and battery case. You don’t have a complaining witness, obviously. But, that witness is simply replaced with a medical examiner and a medical examiner’s report. These types of cases should not be so intimidating that an experienced criminal defense lawyer can’t take them on.

How an Experienced Oklahoma Murder Attorney Can Help

The range of punishment is so limited that it really makes murder cases kind of an all-or-nothing thing. It’s not to say that you can’t work them out in some sort of plea agreement.

But oftentimes, there’s no middle ground. If the government believes you’ve committed a murder with malice aforethought, or felony murder in the first degree, their goal, their mission, and their duty under their oath is to convict you. It is to convict you and to incarcerate you for a minimum of 45 years, or life without the possibility of parole, or ultimately, death.

That all-or-nothing mentality really forces these cases to trial more than any other case. The only other types of cases that go to trial this often are sex-crimes cases. For the same obvious reason – you either did it, or you didn’t. And if you didn’t, you’re probably going to have to defend that in front of a jury.

The government is not afraid of trying these cases. Prosecutors take them very seriously, and it’s a badge of honor for them to try a murder case. It’s the only kind of case they want to try. They think it means something more important than any other case we try.

So it forces us to trial. There are a number of lawyers who will take these cases and promise you a lot of things. And if you haven’t checked their records and their experience you might be signing yourself up for a bad deal in the future.

The quality of your representation from the very, very, beginning determines how much the government is going to be willing to work with you or against you. And they know who tries cases in this community, and who does not.

You don’t want to hire the cheapest lawyer in town. You want to hire somebody who can ‘show you the money’ — show you that they’ve tried these cases and they’ve been successful in doing so.

Because if the government isn’t afraid of your lawyer, they’re darn sure not going to be afraid of you. And if they’re not afraid of you, and they’re not afraid of your lawyer, you’re taking a huge risk.

This all-or-nothing mentality is what really makes murder cases so overwhelming and so scary — not only to the defendant, but also to the less-experienced lawyer.

Contact Jacqui Ford Law Today

At Jacqui Ford Law, we are proud to be able to represent people facing murder charges. We’ve been doing this for years, and we are not afraid of these charges. We are not afraid of the consequences. And we’re ready to fight with you to walk you out of that courtroom right along with us. It’s an honor and a pleasure to represent folks. Contact us today to get started on your defense.