J. Patrick Quillian, P.C.

J. Patrick Quillian Attorney At Law

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June 2018 Archives

When is Manslaughter Charged Instead of Murder in Oklahoma?

Both manslaughter and murder in Oklahoma refer to crimes in which a defendant causes another person's death through illegal means. But even though the end result in both murder and manslaughter cases is one person's death and another person's criminal culpability, the difference in potential criminal sentences is enormous.   First-degree murder in Oklahoma carries a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole, life in prison with no possibility of parole, or the death penalty. Second-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a possibility of life.   First-degree manslaughter, on the other hand, carries a minimum sentence of four years in prison, while second-degree manslaughter carries a two to four prison sentence.   Clearly, no one wants to spend a day in prison - and a criminal defense attorney will always seek a not guilty verdict or dropped charges when possible - but sometimes negotiating and/or litigating a defendant's way down from a murder charge to a manslaughter guilty plea or conviction is the best possible outcome, as it can mean a difference of decades of prison and avoidance of the death penalty.

Understanding the Difference Between First-Degree and Second-Degree Murder in Oklahoma

No doubt about it: if you are convicted of murder either by a jury or through a guilty plea in Oklahoma, you will spend time in prison. But whether you are convicted of first-degree murder or second-degree murder can literally mean the difference between life and death for you the defendant, and at the very least mean a difference of additional decades spent behind bars.   Specifically, the punishment for first-degree murder in Oklahoma is either 1) life in prison with the possibility of parole; 2) life in prison with no possibility of parole; or 3) the death penalty.   By contrast, the minimum sentence for second-degree murder is only 10 years in prison, although that sentence may rise to life in prison as well.   It should go without saying that, even if there is a high likelihood of conviction for a murder crime, it is far preferable for a defendant to receive a second-degree murder conviction rather a first-degree conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney will always fight on behalf of a defendant facing homicide charges to seek full innocence, but, where this is not possible, will seek a lesser conviction from first-degree murder, which can include second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter.

Can My Wife Testify Against Me in an Oklahoma Criminal Case?

It goes without saying that the people that know us best - and know our deepest and perhaps darkest secrets - are often our spouses. While every marriage is different, it is common for one spouse to tell another spouse things he or she wouldn't tell anyone else in the world. With that comes the expectation that those secrets will remain within the marriage, whether they relate to hopes and fears or potential criminal behavior relating to past violent acts, drugs, guns, theft, and any other type of criminal behavior. But this is not always the case.   When a person gets in trouble with the law, however, and police and prosecutors come around asking questions, it is thus often a common question whether a defendant's wife (or husband) can be called to testify against them in criminal court. It is an important question, as a person who is called to testify in a criminal case must testify truthfully or face a criminal perjury charge.   Oklahoma does give both spouses a spousal communications privilege in criminal cases which protects certain communications, but it is important to understand what it does and does not protect.

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