A Simple Understanding of the Justifiable Use Deadly Force for Self Defense in Oklahoma

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Like many laws the statutes defining the justifiable use of deadly force in Oklahoma are confusing. Confusion over the law is the last thing a person needs when they are making split second decisions concerning the use deadly force. This article will give you a simple and easy understanding of when you should be justified in using deadly force in Oklahoma.

For the clearest understanding of when a person is justified in using deadly force for self-defense look at the Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions. Oklahoma has pattern jury instructions that are used in every criminal trial. The goal of the Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions, commonly referred to as OUJIs, is to explain the law to jurors with simple everyday language. These instructions are drafted by a committee and approved by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

OUJI-CR 8-46 “Defense of Self-Defense-Justifiable Use of Deadly Force” states:

“A person is justified in using deadly force in self-defense if that person reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself/herself….”

The law also states that Self-Defense is not available to a person that was the aggressor, provoked another with the intent to cause the altercation or voluntarily entered into mutual combat.

OUJI-CR 8-50 “DEFENSE OF SELF-DEFENSE - WHEN DEFENSE NOT AVAILABLE”

“Self-defense is permitted a person solely because of necessity. Self-defense is not available to a person who (was the aggressor)/(provoked another with the intent to cause the altercation)/(voluntarily entered into mutual combat), no matter how great the danger to personal security became during the altercation unless the right of self-defense is reestablished.”

So for a simple understanding of when the use of deadly force is justified for self defense in Oklahoma I look to the following statement.

Unless you are the aggressor or provoked the altercation or voluntarily entered into mutual combat; you are justified in using deadly force if you reasonably believed that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury.

In some circumstances the law will give you greater rights to use deadly force, but, I think keeping track of each situation and the various exceptions are too complicated to keep straight in my mind in a life or death situation. I like to keep it simple so I will be able to think clearly if I ever found myself in such a situation.

Even using my simplified rule for when I would be justified in using deadly force, I would not be guaranteed that I would not be charged with a crime for using deadly force. The law says that my belief must be “reasonable”. “Reasonable” is open to interpretation. However, if I found myself in fear of death or great bodily injury and believed that I needed to use deadly force to prevent that harm from occurring to me I would not hesitate in using deadly force. If my fear was sincere I could live with the outcome of the legal case no matter what it was, I would rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.

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