Anyone in Oklahoma who is convicted of or pleads guilty or no contest to murder in the first degree, when that person intentionally causes the death of a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or corrections employee while the officer or employee is in the performance of official duties must now be punished by either death or life without parole. Absent an overwhelming amount of mitigating evidence, that person can’t receive imprisonment for life or deferment of the sentence. Previously, a person who committed the above act would have been eligible for a life sentence. A deferred sentence was not possible—regardless of the amount of mitigating evidence.
General Definition of Murder in the First Degree in Oklahoma
A person commits murder in the first degree in Oklahoma when that person unlawfully and with malice aforethought causes the death of another human being. Malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a human being, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.
This new law is known as the “Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act of 2017”. HB 1306 modified 21 O.S. § 701.9. It went into effect on November 21, 2017.