In Oklahoma law, there are statutes that cover crimes that fall somewhere between assault and murder. These crimes are called “attempts to kill,” and they involve the use of deadly force or violence against another person that does not actually result in death.
Because of the difference between the state’s definition of manslaughter and murder, these offenses are not necessarily termed “attempted murder” by statute, but rather an attempt to kill, or committing a specific act with “intent to kill.”
Chapter 21 of the Oklahoma Criminal Code contains three statutes regarding Attempts to Kill. These laws prohibit poisoning with intent to kill, shooting with intent to kill, and assault and battery with a deadly weapon. An additional “catch-all” law provides a penalty for any other attempt to kill that is not specifically defined and penalized by law elsewhere in the Oklahoma Statutes.
Administering poison with intent to kill (21 O.S. § 651) is a violent felony. Under this law, anyone who “administers or causes or procures to be administered” poison to another person faces a minimum of 10 years in prison if the other person actually takes the poison.
It is important to note that Oklahoma law does not specifically define poison, and therefore, it may be any toxic substance that could be lethal if ingested. If that substance is given to another person with the intent of killing that person, who ever administers the substance or causes the substance to be administered to another person will be charged with a violent crime punishable by 10 years to life in prison.
Poisoning with intent to kill is an “Eighty-Five Percent Crime” under 21 O.S. § 13.1. This means that a person convicted of administering poison with intent to kill must serve at least 85 percent of his or her sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Oklahoma law deals with shooting with intent to kill in 21 O.S. § 652. Under this law, the Oklahoma government prohibits the discharge of any firearm with the intent to kill another person, including an unborn child.
The penalty for shooting with intent to kill is a maximum of life in prison. It is likewise an 85 percent crime. Because Oklahoma calculates a life sentence as 45 years for the purpose of parole, anyone sentenced to life in prison for shooting with intent to kill would serve more than 38 years before achieving parole eligibility.
The same statute that penalizes shooting with intent to kill also specifically addresses the use of a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a firearm.
Under this law, “Every person who uses any vehicle to facilitate the intentional discharge of any kind of firearm, crossbow or other weapon in conscious disregard for the safety of any other person or persons, including an unborn child . . . shall upon conviction be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not less than two (2) years nor exceeding life.”
Being convicted of a drive-by shooting, for example, would result a sentence of 2 years to life in prison. Although this law is included with “attempts to kill,” please note that it says nothing about intent to kill. Instead, conviction requires only “conscious disregard for safety,” not an intent to kill.
Assault and battery with a deadly weapon or by such force as is likely to cause death is addressed in § 652 along with shooting with intent to kill and use of a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a firearm. Under this law, any attempt to kill another person is punishable by a maximum of life in prison.
Oklahoma law does not specifically define a “deadly weapon,” and therefore, any instrument used to inflict lethal force may be considered a deadly weapon. Deadly weapons are often knives and other sharp instruments used in stabbings, but they can also be items which are not intended for use as weapons—baseball bats, hammers, and cars for example.
Like the other violent felonies described on this page, assault and battery with a deadly weapon is an 85 percent crime.
Finally, to prevent any attempt to kill from slipping through the cracks, Oklahoma law prescribes a penalty for any assault with intent to kill that is not elsewhere stipulated by law:
“Any person who is guilty of an assault with intent to kill any person the punishment for which is not prescribed by Section 652 of this title, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term not exceeding five (5) years, or in a county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or by a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.”
However, state law is sufficiently comprehensive in Sections 651 and 652 that this “safety net” is almost unnecessary. In most cases, prosecutors will file the most serious charges possible. This is one of the reasons it is vitally important to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you are accused of any crime.
If you are charged with an assault involving intent to kill, it is critical that you find legal defense representation immediately. If the alleged assault involved the use of a deadly weapon, you may be facing a life sentence, even if no one was killed and even if there was no actual intent to kill anyone.
Defense options in an assault with attempt to kill case may include challenging evidence or eyewitness testimony about the identity of the assailant, illustrating lack of intent to negotiate a reduced assault charge, or demonstrating self-defense.
To learn more, call Oklahoma City criminal defense lawyer Ryan Coventon at (405) 417-3842 to schedule a risk-free consultation, or submit our confidential online case review form.