Oklahoma Capital Punishment Laws

Popularly known as "the death penalty," capital punishment is a legal sentence under Oklahoma's criminal statutes for certain crimes. Oklahoma has executed a total of 111 people since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, giving the Sooner State one of the highest rates of executions per capita. Here is a quick introduction to capital punishment laws in Oklahoma.

Capital Punishment Statutes in Oklahoma

States are permitted some freedom in crafting their own capital punishment laws. Only 18 states have banned capital punishment while 32 states still have death penalty laws in place. The following table lists the specifics of Oklahoma's capital punishment laws.

Code Section

Oklahoma Statutes Title 21 §§701.9, et seq.: Death Penalty;

Oklahoma Statutes Title 22 §§1005, et seq.: Insanity of Death Row Inmate

Is Capital Punishment Allowed?

Yes

Effect of Defendant's Incapacity

Suspend sentence if insane or pregnant

Minimum Age

No minimum age

Available for Crimes Other than Homicide?

None

Definition of Capital Homicide

Previous felony conviction involving use/threat of violence; knowingly created great risk of death to more than one person; for remuneration or employed another for remuneration; especially heinous, atrocious or cruel; avoiding lawful arrest or prosecution; committed while serving sentence for felony; probability of defendant being continuing threat to society; victim was a peace officer or guard

Method of Execution

Lethal injection or electrocution if lethal injection held to be unconstitutional or firing squad if both of above found to be unconstitutional

After being outlawed, and then reinstated, by the United State Supreme Court, capital punishment remains a very divisive topic in American politics and society. The majority of recent national polls show close to an even split between those in favor of the death penalty and others who prefer life imprisonment for those guilty of murder. Public support for the death penalty has declined in recent years, coinciding with a decrease in executions overall. Only 29 people were executed in 2014, down from a post-1978 peak of 98 in 1999. Most of these executions occurred in Florida, Missouri, and Texas.

Related Resources for Oklahoma Capital Punishment Laws:

Criminal charges are serious, especially one which might carry the death penalty. If you would like legal advice regarding a death penalty matter, you can contact an Oklahoma criminal law attorney. You can also find more information and resources on this topic in FindLaw's section on Capital Punishment and the Death Penalty.

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