Oklahoma Murder Criminal Defense Attorneys Cannon & Associates are FIERCE ADVOCATES for those charged with life-changing criminal offenses–Oklahoma County Murder Defense Lawyers. We have successfully defending multiple clients in jury trial and throughout the process of a Murder or Manslaughter case in Oklahoma. 

We are led by John P. Cannon, a former Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted violent crime as a DA before becoming the experienced Edmond criminal defense attorney he is today. A successful defense can result in a case dismissal, dropped charges, or a not-guilty verdict at trial, which we have accomplished for multiple clients charged with Murder in Oklahoma. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a homicide or Murder, call us for a free confidential case evaluation. Edmond Murder Criminal Defense Attorney John Cannon is a FIERCE ADVOCATE and available to talk to you today. Call Cannon & Associates at (405) 657-2323 and begin to prepare your defense. 

Charged with Murder in Oklahoma

When charged with murder in Oklahoma, the outcome of your case will have a dramatic impact on the rest of your life and your family. Homicide charges, including murder are the most serious types of crimes as the impact of the harm caused and the severity of the resulting penalties cannot be any greater. A person charged with murder in Oklahoma County or anywhere in Oklahoma faces the stiffest penalties for murder in the country: life in prison or life without the possibility of parole. In some circumstances with aggravating factors, the prosecution may seek the death penalty in Oklahoma

Even without a single instance of contact with police prior to the case, aggravating factors may cause a person convicted of Murder to never be released from prison. A simple life sentence is currently calculated as 45 calendar years in prison. 

Murder cases, especially involving the potential of the death penalty, require special skills and knowledge based on experience handling complex and life-altering murder cases. Attorney John Cannon has many years-experience practicing criminal defense and prosecution of violent crime in Oklahoma, including many murder and manslaughter cases. Cannon & Associates works closely with investigators, mental health experts, forensic experts, toxicologists, firearm experts, and others to build a strong defense and provide FIERCE ADVOCACY for our clients facing of murder in Oklahoma.

First Degree Murder vs. Second Degree Murder in Oklahoma

First degree murder is the most serious crime under Oklahoma law. This charge requires a defendant to serve 85% of a sentence prior to release and carries life in prison as a minimum sentence. The differences between first degree murder and second degree murder are as follows:

First Degree Murder

Unlawfully causing the death of another human being with malice aforethought. Period. However, the legal significance of this sentence is greatly debated. 

Malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a human being, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.

Murder in the First Degree by Felony Murder does not require malice aforethought. Rather, felony murder in Oklahoma means engaging in one of the following specified felonies and your personal conduct causes death of a human being. In Oklahoma, you may be convicted of Felony Murder for the acts of an accomplice resulting in the death of another; however, the death penalty may not be sought in that circumstance. The following felonies comprise the lists of predicates to felony murder:

  1. Forcible rape;
  2. Robbery with a dangerous weapon;
  3. Kidnapping;
  4. Escape from lawful custody;
  5. Eluding an officer;
  6. First-degree Burglary/Arson;
  7. Murder of a person other than the deceased;
  8. Shooting/discharge of a firearm/crossbow with intent to kill a person;
  9. Intentional discharge of a firearm into a dwelling/building;
  10. Unlawful distributing or dispensing of controlled dangerous substances;
  11. Trafficking in illegal drugs;
  12. Manufacturing/Attempting to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance.

Second Degree Murder

The following constitutes Second Degree Murder in Oklahoma: an act imminently dangerous to another person and evincing a “depraved mind”, regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to affect the death of any particular individual; or

Second Degree Felony Murder, which is the death of a human being during the commission of any felony other than those that constitute Felony Murder (listed above). 

While the penalty for second degree murder is not as severe as first degree murder; a conviction of Second Degree Murder will change the life of a defendant and their family forever. Second Degree Murder carries ten (10) years to life in prison. 

Manslaughter: A Serious Charge that Needs an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Manslaughter in Oklahoma carries very serious penalties, including potentially long prison sentences as well. The acts constituting manslaughter in Oklahoma are as follows: 

  1. When perpetrated without a design to effect death by a person while engaged in the commission of a misdemeanor. 
  2. When perpetrated without a design to effect death, and in a heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner, or by means of a dangerous weapon; unless it is committed under such circumstances as constitute excusable or justifiable homicide. 
  3. When perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed. 

A manslaughter conviction is still a very serious charge. First Degree Manslaughter carries four (4) years to life in prison in Oklahoma. Second Degree Manslaughter carries two (2) years to four (4) years in prison. Whether the manslaughter charge is connected with a DUI or some other act; someone’s life was taken. DUI Manslaughter cases are highly charged emotionally and prosecutors often attempt to play upon the sympathies or emotions of the jury. In such a case, the highly-skilled services of an experienced Oklahoma defense lawyer is absolutely vital to preserving your freedom and your future, if you are facing a manslaughter charge in Oklahoma.

Facing a manslaughter charge cannot be taken with anything but the greatest seriousness. Manslaughter allegations in Oklahoma recognizes the life lost was taken unintentionally or without malice; however, it still involves the death of another human being, a fact which cannot be overstated in the minds of a jury. A manslaughter charge in Oklahoma must be taken as seriously as a Murder charge in Oklahoma.

Process to Fight Murder Charges

Former prosecutor John Cannon now defends those accused of homicide crimes.

Facing a murder or homicide investigation or charge is an intimidating endeavor.  Police and prosecutors appear to have all the power and evidence. However, through experience and Fierce Advocacy you can fight these charges and potentially reach a positive outcome or a substantially reduced sentence.

To fight and win homicide and murder cases, an experienced Oklahoma murder defense lawyer from Cannon & Associates will typically take the following steps:

  • Investigate Facts — To find weakness in the case, Cannon & Associates retains private investigators and experts in homicide cases. Experts can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, including different opinions of the meaning on forensic evidence or discrepancies between evidence and the testimony presented by the prosecution.  
  • File Motion to Dismiss — Prosecutors have the authority to file any charge they believe probable cause evidence supports; however, that is a much lower burden than beyond a reasonable doubt, which is necessary to sustain a conviction. A Motion to Dismiss seeks to dismiss specific counts or your entire murder case in Oklahoma. This motion can be based on lack of evidence or other weaknesses in your murder case. When appropriate, the Edmond murder defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates also seek dismissal based on insufficient evidence at the preliminary hearing, motion and trial stage.
  • File Motions to Suppress Illegal Evidence — If law enforcement does something outside the law; evidence obtained as a result may be excluded from trial. Successful suppression will limit the evidence the prosecutor can present, which may lead to a favorable plea, dismissal, or a strong defense during trial.
  • Fight with Legal Defenses —As discussed in the next sections, several legal defenses exist to defend against murder or manslaughter charges, which if successful will result in a not-guilty verdict or dismissal by the prosecution. 
  • Present a Strong Case — Telling a compelling story at trial is the best defense to being charged with murder. When true, the Edmond murder defense lawyers at Cannon & Associates will demonstrate to the jury the evidence from prosecution does not prove your guilt. You will be found not guilty, if the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime.

These steps can help you fight homicide charges. Cannon & Associates’ success defending people accused of homicide crimes is based on our comprehensive approach.

Defense Against Evidence in Oklahoma County Murder Charges

If an individual has been charged with first degree murder in Oklahoma County, Cannon & Associates will examine every report available, the forensic evidence, ballistics, blood-splatter evidence, eyewitness statements, police interviews, crime scene investigation reports, the autopsy, and all other available information to identify the best defense in your case.

Our team at Cannon & Associates will analyze the entire body of evidence in the case, determine the best potential murder defense strategies, and explain all of this to our client’s and their family to make a recommendation for the best option in defending your Murder or Manslaughter case. Some of the strategies we use include challenges to DNA evidence, presenting alternate theories of the case, defendant’s version of the evidence, identifying weaknesses in forensics or witness accounts, coerced confessions, and suppressing illegally obtained evidence. 

Through FIERCE ADVOCACY we seek to exonerate our clients with an agreed dismissal or obtain a NOT GUILTY verdict at trial; however, at the same time we will build your story, including mitigation to seek a settlement option to reduce your charges from first degree murder or reduce any murder charge to manslaughter. Through years of murder defense in Oklahoma, Mr. Cannon knows the stakes for a client and the family of a client facing murder charges in Oklahoma. Therefore, our Firm fights for clients every inch of the way from investigation through jury trial. 

Mr. Cannon explores opportunities to defeat the prosecution’s case by seeking to exclude critical evidence, if it was obtained by an unreasonable search or seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment or coerced confessions in violation of a client’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. These and other types of evidence may be critical to the prosecutor’s case. The exclusion of improper evidence can place significant pressure on the prosecution to reduce the seriousness of murder or manslaughter charge in your case. Evidence obtained during the investigation of your Oklahoma murder case may be illegal for a number of reasons.

  1. The search was conducted without a warrant and no valid exception to a warrant exists;
  2. The necessary elements to demonstrate exigency to permit a search without a warrant cannot be proven sufficiently, which results in the Court suppressing the evidence obtained as a result;
  3. The police exceeded the authority granted in the warrant, i.e. by searching nearby structures or areas that were not identified in the warrant;
  4. Incriminating statements or confessions can be excluded, if your Miranda rights were violated: police did not provide Miranda Warnings and you were in custody and subjected to questioning, police continued questioning despite a suspect asserting his or her right to having an attorney;
  5. Confessions obtained subsequent to Miranda Warnings can be excluded, if the confession was obtained involuntarily;
  6. Police and detectives have the legal authority to lie and misrepresent the evidence they have against you; however, a coerced confession is still inadmissible.

Defenses to Murder Charges in Oklahoma

There are a number of valid legal defenses that will prevent a conviction for murder or result in a reduced charge. Cannon & Associates’ approach to defending murder cases relies in part on examining, arguing and proving all valid defenses pertinent to the case.

Murder defenses generally fall under two categories:

1) You are wrongfully accused;

2) You committed the act; however, it was justified or mitigated below existing charge.

Examples of legal defenses to murder charges include:

  1. Mistaken identity — Traumatic events often lead to witnesses misremembering what they witnessed or believe they witnessed.  This defense involves showing how witnesses were mistaken in what they saw or heard during the case.
  2. Self Defense — justifiable homicide exists in Oklahoma. Our self-defense laws in Oklahoma allow for stand your ground; however, your acts must be proportional. This is one of the most common defenses as homicides often taken place in the heat of a fight or in self-defense. 
  3. Defense of Others — similarly Oklahoma self-defense laws allow for the protection of others, if that person is under the threat to life or limb and you defend them with proportional force. 
  4. Insanity — To be “not guilty by reason of insanity” the defendant must convince the jury by a “preponderance of the evidence” the accused did not understand the nature of the act or could not distinguish right from wrong. Mental health defenses are very complex and can result in lengthy incarceration in a mental institute. Our firm has successfully defended clients based on mental capacity; however, this is a complex area.
  5. Inadvertent Act — In order to be convicted of intentional murder, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to commit the act resulting in the death. The charges must be reduced or dismissed, if the act was unintentional or negligent.  

To learn about these and other possible defenses to murder charges, call the Edmond murder defense attorney for a free confidential case evaluation today at (405) 657-2323.

Motions to Fight an Oklahoma County Murder Charge

Prosecutors cannot use evidence that was obtained by illegal means. When law enforcement violates the law or your rights, your murder defense attorney may be able to suppress evidence that they collect. Any motion that your defense attorney files and wins will bolster your defense and weaken the prosecutions.  Some defense motions, if successful will result in your murder case being dismissed. The most common defense motions in murder cases include:

  • Motion to Dismiss the Case — this motion can be based on the following:
    (1) Lack of Jurisdiction: court does not have authority to hear case;
    (2) Lack of probable cause: prosecution cannot meet this low burden at preliminary hearing;
    (3) Necessary Element: prosecutor failed to present evidence of a necessary element;
  • Motion to Suppress Illegal Evidence — As mentioned above, motions to suppress in a murder case are based on illegal or overzealous conduct by police that result in evidence being illegally seized and areas being illegally searched.  The prosecution will be prohibited from presenting suppressed evidence or confessions, which can substantially weaken the prosecution’s case. Suppression is the most effective tool to respond to police misconduct and illegally obtained evidence. 
  • Motion to Prevent Improper Statements by Prosecution — Before trial, an effective Oklahoma County murder defense attorney will file Motions in Limine. These motions involve a request for the judge to prevent the prosecutor and the prosecution witnesses from using improper arguments and evidence under the Oklahoma Evidence Code. Motions in Limine are similar to the oral objections your Oklahoma defense attorney will make during trial, i.e. “objection argumentative”. The largest difference between a Motion in Limie and an Objection is the depth of information and legal support provided. An example of a Motion in Limine that our firm has succeeding in is preventing the prosecutor from referring to the family as victims during opening statements, which helps to reduce the prejudice against our client.
  • Motion to Dismiss an Improper Charge — Often prosecutors will file charges outside of murder, such as possession of a firearm or assault and battery with a deadly weapon to cover all alleged conduct and make the defense more difficult. Obtaining dismissal of all or some charges outside of the murder charge allows your murder defense attorney to focus your defense on the charge that matters the most. At Cannon & Associates, our Los Angeles murder defense lawyers will file these and other motions when applicable. Call our criminal defense law firm for a review of your case to determine which, if any, legal motions are appropriate in your defense.

Are Innocent People every charged with Murder?

Innocent people are accused of crimes every day in Oklahoma; murder charges are no exception. Innocent citizens being charged with murder is even more common than other criminal charges, because there are rarely eyewitnesses to a murder and a prosecutor’s case is largely based on circumstantial evidence or evidence surrounding the event. Unfortunately, this results in innocent people in the wrong place or time being accused and charged with murder in Oklahoma. Fighting to win at trial is the best and sometimes only option, if you are innocent. We are dedicated to FIERCE ADVOCACY and winning at trial, which can include the following:  

Attacking the Prosecution’s Case — The prosecutor has the burden in a criminal trial and holding them to that burden is one of the most effective defenses.  Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is the highest burden in the United States justice system and our firm holds the government to that burden in every case.  

Presenting Defense Story — The jury must consider all information presented by you and telling a compelling story is a very powerful way to fight your murder trial.  Our Firm accomplishes this goal by early and detailed attention to building your story through investigation and identifying witnesses to support your defense.  We retain a murder investigator in every murder case to help our firm understand what happened and examine the evidence; long before a jury is very called in your murder trial. 

Experienced Murder Defense Lawyer — Your number one priority in fighting your murder case, if you want to win at trial is hiring a skilled and successful murder defense attorney that has won murder cases. 


You should immediately exercise your right to an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney, if you have been arrested or are being investigated for murder or manslaughter in Oklahoma! Facing murder charges in Oklahoma will have life changing effects on your freedom and future. Our team at Cannon & Associates understands these concerns as we have walked along side many clients that have successfully defeated murder charges in Oklahoma, including obtaining a not guilty verdict at trial. 

Cannon & Associates will do everything possible to exclude damaging statements and evidence from your Oklahoma County murder case through aggressive investigation and years of experience with the laws surrounding suppression and exclusion of evidence. 

Experience matters when you are facing Murder Charges in Oklahoma County and beyond. It is important to know the Oklahoma murder defense lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in all aspects of the law concerning murder and suppression of evidence in Oklahoma. John Cannon, owner of Cannon & Associates is a former prosecutor and very experienced in the law and issues associated with murder charges in Oklahoma. He has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and Top 40 under 40 in criminal defense. Contact Cannon & Associates to protect your rights and Fight your case. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 1(405) 657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.