In Oklahoma, an individual who has been arrested for or charged with a violent crime, whether it be assault or a murder crime, can avoid criminal penalties if there is evidence to support the defendant acted in self-defense within the scope of the state laws. These laws provides broad protections for those who reasonably acted in defense of themselves or others.
The Sooner State recognizes that law-abiding citizens have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes or places of business, which is known as the “Make My Day” law. So, an individual who uses defensive force against an intruder or someone attempting to gain unlawful entrance into a home, business, or occupied vehicle is “presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” to himself or herself, or to another person.
However, the above presumption doesn’t apply to any of the following:
- The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle.
- The person sought to be removed are children or grandchildren, or are otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the individual against whom the defensive force is used.
- The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an illegal activity or is using the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or place of business to further an unlawful activity.
Furthermore, Oklahoma is one of 25 states with “Stand Your Ground” laws which essentially allow law-abiding citizens who are attacked in public to use deadly force if they hold a reasonable fear of peril of death or great bodily harm. In addition, a private citizen in the state is not required to pursue a safe retreat from an attack before using force against the attacker. A person who uses defensive force is justified in using such defensive force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such defensive force.
With all that said, a defendant should never attempt to explain to law enforcement why he or she was within the purview of Oklahoma’s self-defense law. You should always seek legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can evaluate your case and determine whether or not self-defense is applicable.