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Oklahoma Voluntary Manslaughter Law

A homicide is committed every time one human being kills another. It is important to note that some homicides are legal (for example, state sanctioned executions) while others are illegal (for example, planning to kill your boss because he won't give you a raise).

In Oklahoma, there are four types of homicide: murder, manslaughter, excusable homicide, and justifiable homicide. Manslaughter is then broken down into two sub-categories: first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter. This article provides a brief overview of Oklahoma's first-degree manslaughter laws.

What's the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

The key difference between murder and manslaughter is the element of malice (the intent or desire to cause death or serious bodily harm). "Murder" is generally defined as the unlawful killing of another with malice under specific circumstances that vary slightly from state to state, while "manslaughter" is the unlawful killing of another without malice.

Oklahoma's First-Degree Manslaughter Statute

First-degree manslaughter (referred to as voluntary manslaughter in some other states) in Oklahoma criminalizes the killing of another without malice in several situations. The table below provides an overview of these situations and Oklahoma's first-degree manslaughter laws.

Code Section

Oklahoma Code section 21-711: Manslaughter in the First Degree

What's Prohibited?

First-degree manslaughter can occur in any of the following ways:
  • A homicide committed without a design to cause death while engaging in the commission of a misdemeanor
  • A homicide committed without a design to effect death and in the heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner, or by means of a dangerous weapon, or
  • A homicide committed unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the deceased to commit a crime, or after such an attempt failed

Liability of Physicians

A physician can commit first-degree manslaughter by, while being intoxicated and without a plan to kill his patient, administering any poison, drug, or medicine, or doing any other act in his capacity as a physician that causes his patient to die.

Killing an Unborn Child

It is first-degree manslaughter to administer, prescribe, or advise a pregnant woman to take any medicine, drug, or substance, or uses or employ an instrument with the intent to destroy the child, unless the same action was necessary to preserve the life of the mother.


Felony. Punishable by imprisonment for at least four years.

Additional Resources

For case specific information regarding Oklahoma's voluntary manslaughter law contact a local criminal defense attorney.

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