Criminal Malice in Oklahoma is generally understood to mean having bad or evil intent. The term “malice” is defined by Oklahoma criminal law statutes to mean having a wish to “vex,” “annoy,” or “injure” another human being. Thus, under Oklahoma law, the word malice may have a somewhat different connotation than it carries in everyday language. In Oklahoma criminal law, it is possible to act maliciously without a desire to do great harm to another but with merely an intent to irritate another person.
Malice Aforethought In Oklahoma Murder Cases
In Oklahoma, the presence or absence of malice can make a big difference in the result of a criminal case. First-degree murder requires what is known in Oklahoma as “malice aforethought.”
Malice aforethought means:
- The killing was intentional
- The killing that was intended was unlawful.
It is possible to have a killing that satisfies the first element but not the second element. For example, someone threatens you with a loaded gun. You immediately respond by shooting them in self-defense. If you were charged with murder, you could claim that you intended to kill the person threatening you and that you did not break the law because you acted in self-defense. In Oklahoma, a killing without malice is unlikely to be first-degree murder.
Other Types Of Cases Involving Malice
The term “malice” comes up most frequently in Oklahoma criminal law when discussing first-degree murder. However, the term does appear in other contexts as well. These contexts include:
- Libel – In Oklahoma, libel requires that a writing be published that is both false and malicious.
- Slander – Slander is like libel but involves spoken words that are false, malicious, and harmful.
- Conspiracy – You can be found guilty of conspiracy in Oklahoma if you and another person conspire to falsely and maliciously get another person arrested for a crime.
- Suppression of evidence – This crime involves concealing evidence with malicious intent.
- Child abuse – The term “maliciously” also comes up in the context of the crime of child abuse in Oklahoma.
- Intimidation and harassment – It is illegal in Oklahoma to intimidate or harass a person because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability. Proving this charge requires proving malicious intent.
- Inciting violence – It is also illegal in Oklahoma to incite violence. This charge requires the prosecution to prove malicious intent.
- Kidnapping – Kidnapping, or child stealing in Oklahoma, requires malicious intent to take a child under 16 away from their parent or guardian.
- Unlawful removal of a dead body – In Oklahoma, it is generally unlawful to remove a dead body or part of a dead body without permission from the district attorney or medical examiner. However, a lack of malicious intent can be a defense in these cases.
- Destruction of grave markers – It is illegal in Oklahoma to maliciously destroy or deface a tomb, gravestone, or monument. However, if the destruction is accidental or otherwise not done with malicious intent, it may not be a crime (although there may still be a civil penalty for such damage.)
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When the State is charging you with a crime they need to prove each element of that crime. If one of those crimes includes a malice requirement they have to prove it with their evidence. If you are in Oklahoma and have been accused of a crime involving malice, or any crime, we can help. Kania Law Office offers free criminal defense consultations. Call us today at 918-743-2233 or contact us online.
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