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Stop or I'll Shoot: Oklahoma Self Defense Posted July 20, 2017




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STOP OR I’LL SHOOT

Oklahoma Laws of Self Defense

 

Self Defense is as American as baseball and apple pie.  America has a long history of recognizing the rights of an individual to defend himself as well as his property, it’s one of the reasons that the second amendment exists.  The laws of self defense have evolved over time and are currently codified, fancy word for written down, in Oklahoma statutes.  The laws regarding self defense, or justifiable homicide, are not as straight forward as they once were and have actually become some what convoluted over the years.

In recent time there have been many high profile homicide/murder cases in Oklahoma that have involved a claim of self defense.  We have seen Tulsa police officers Betty Shelby and Shannon Keppler, one on duty and one off duty, claim self defense in the killing of another. A fireworks stand owner in Sand Springs was forced to use deadly force to defend himself against armed thieves, and of course Jerome Ersland the Oklahoma City pharmacist that killed an armed robber who entered his store and attempted to rob him at gun point.

 

These cases have had varied results in the legal arena; Betty Shelby was acquitted of all charges, the jury in Shannon Keppler’s trial cannot reach a unanimous verdict, even after 3 tries, Jerome Ersland was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison and charges are currently pending against the fireworks stand owner. Oklahomans have the notion that self defense is simple and clear cut but, as the results above show self defense, in Oklahoma it is anything but clear.  

 

Justifiable homicide is taking the life of another human being where the individual taking the life of another had the right to do so under the law; therefore the killing is not a murder.  In the following article we will take a look at self defense, defense of others and the ever popular stand your ground law and how they apply to different situations in Oklahoma.

 

OUJI-CR 8-46

DEFENSE OF SELF-DEFENSE - 

JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE

 

A person is justified in using deadly force in self-defense if that person reasonably believed that use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself/herself or to terminate or prevent the commission of a forcible felony against himself/herself. Self-defense is a defense although the danger to life or personal security may not have been real, if a reasonable person, in the circumstances and from the viewpoint of the defendant, would reasonably have believed that he/she was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.

 

The key to this instruction is the reasonable person standard.  In order to be justified in committing a homicide a you must have a reasonable belief that you are in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death. McKee v. State, 1962 OK CR 57.  A homicide is only justifiable when a reasonable person would have used deadly force. Davis v. State, 2011 OK CR29.  Fear alone does not justify a homicide nor does threats or insults. McKee v. State, 1962 OK CR 57, Jamison v. State, 1956 OK CR 127.  At the end of the day for a homicide to be justified the person committing the homicide must have a reasonable fear that that he is in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death.  

 

There is also language in this jury instruction that states that a person is justified in committing a homicide to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.  This does not mean that you can kill anyone who is committing a felony.  The courts have clarified this in several cases including Mammano v. State, 1958 OK CR 94 and Fleming v. State, 1965 OK CR 53.  In these cases the court held that in order for a homicide to be justified, under the prevention of a felony clause, the felony being committed must place a person in fear of great bodily harm or death.  For example in Mammano the deceased grabbed the defendant’s hands and placed them on his private parts.  The defendant killed the man and claimed that he did so to prevent a felony offense.  The court found that this was not justification for the killing because the felony being committed did not place the defendant in fear of great bodily harm or death.  

 

The basics to this instruction is whether a person in your shoes at the time of the incident would have been in fear of great bodily harm or death.  If jurors believe that they would have been afraid of great bodily harm or death then the homicide is justified. If the jury finds that the fear was not reasonable then the individual is guilty of either murder or manslaughter for the killing.  

 

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.

 

This instruction lists three separate occasions when the defense of self defense is not available to the defendant.  First, if the defendant was the aggressor in the situation he is not entitled the the defense of self defense.  An aggressor, in terms of self defense, is defined by Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instruction 8-53. OUJI 8-53 provided that “A person is an aggressor when that person by his wrongful acts provokes, brings about, or continues an altercation”.  The use of words alone cannot make a person an aggressor.  A person who is found to be the aggressor in a situation is not entitled to the defense of self defense. Ruth v. State, 581 P.2d 919 (Okl. Cr. 1978).  

 

Second, a person is not entitled to the defense of self defense if they provoked another with the intent to cause the altercation.  Although words alone cannot make a person an aggressor they can prevent a person from using the defense of self defense.  Use of gross insults with the intent to cause an altercation can prevent an individual from claiming self defense.  Basically, you cannot bait a person into a conflict and then claim self defense. 

 

Lastly, you cannot enter into mutual combat and then make a claim of self defense.  Think of it this way; you can’t agree to fight someone in the parking lot of a bar and then, when your loosing the fight, pull out a gun, kill them and claim self defense.  Voluntarily entering into an altercation can prevent you from claiming self defense.  

 

Bottom line is that you cannot create a situation that requires you to use deadly force and then claim self defense.  If you start the altercation or agree to enter into a fight then the defense of self defense most likely will not be available to you in the event you are charged and go to jury trial.  The defense of self defense, even when a person was originally the aggressor, can be reestablished in certain circumstances.

 

OUJI-CR 8-51

DEFENSE OF SELF-DEFENSE - DEFENSE REESTABLISHED

 

A person who (was the original aggressor)/(provoked another with intent to cause the altercation)/(voluntarily entered into mutual combat) may regain the right to self-defense if that person withdrew or attempted to withdraw from the altercation and communicated his/her desire to withdraw to the other participant(s) in the altercation. If, thereafter, the other participant(s) continued the altercation, the other participant(s) became the aggressor(s) and the person who (was the original aggressor)/(provoked another with the intent to cause the altercation)/(voluntarily entered into mutual combat) is entitled to the defense of self-defense.

 

If a person who was originally the aggressor, provoked the incident, or entered into mutual combat withdraws from the altercation and makes it clear that he has withdrawn from the altercation he can reestablish his right to self defense.  Take the example form earlier where you agree to fight someone in the parking lot of a bar.  If you go outside and fight and because you're loosing you give up and tell the other guy I’m done, I quit, I don’t want to fight anymore or something to that effect then the fight should be over.  If the other person continues the altercation after you have made it clear that you are done then you have the right to self defense again.

 

OUJI-CR 8-52

DEFENSE OF SELF-DEFENSE - NO DUTY TO RETREAT

 

A person who (was not the aggressor)/(did not provoke another with intent to cause an altercation)/(did not voluntarily enter into mutual combat) has no duty to retreat, but may stand firm and use the right of self-defense.

 

A person who is not at fault has no duty to retreat. A person who is not at fault is entitled to the defense of self-defense as long as there is a reasonable belief of imminent bodily harm and the necessity for the use of force exist. Perez v. State, 51 OK CR 180.  You may stand your ground and use deadly force to prevent great bodily harm or death as long as you were not the aggressor, did not provoke the incident or did not enter into mutual combat. 

 

OUJI-CR 8-49

DEFENSE OF SELF-DEFENSE - BURDEN OF PROOF

 

It is the burden of the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in self-defense. If you find that the State has failed to sustain that burden, then the defendant must be found not guilty.

 

The burden of proof rests on the State. Self-defense is, however, a defense. Hence, the defendant must first come forward with sufficient evidence to raise self-defense as an issue, unless the evidence of the prosecution has raised the issue. If the defendant fails to come forward with evidence, or fails to come forward with sufficient evidence, the issue of self-defense is not raised in the trial, and the judge should not instruct on self-defense. Whether the defendant has come forward with sufficient evidence is a question of law for decision by the trial judge. Once the defendant has presented sufficient evidence to raise self-defense as an issue, the State has the burden of proof to overcome the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. It is a decision for the jury as to whether the State has met the burden of proof. Bearded v. State, 458 P.2d 914 (Okl. Cr. 1969).

 

It is on the defense to raise the issue of self defense at trial.  This usually necessitates that the defendant take the stand to testify on his own behalf.  Once the defense has raised the issue of self defense, and the judge has found that there is sufficient evidence to instruct the jury on the right of self defense, then the burden is on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense.  

 

DEFENSE OF OTHERS

 

In Oklahoma Self defense is not only used when protecting yourself but can also be used as a defense when deadly force has to be used to protect others.  A homicide can be justifiable if the person who committed the act was defending another who was at risk of death or great bodily harm.

 

OUJI-CR 8-2

DEFENSE OF ANOTHER - JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE

 

A person was justified in using deadly force in defense of another person when the person using force reasonably believed that use of deadly force was necessary to (prevent death or great bodily harm to another)/(stop/prevent the commission of a felony that involved the use/(threat of) physical force/violence against any person). Defense of another is a defense although the danger to the life or personal security of the other person may not have been real, if a reasonable person, in the circumstances and from the viewpoint of the defendant, would reasonably have believed the use of deadly force was necessary to (prevent death or great bodily harm to another)/(stop/prevent the commission of a felony that involved the use/(threat of) physical force/violence against any person).

 

Defense of others is almost identical to self defense except for the fact that it is not the person doing the killing who is in danger.  The person who uses deadly force must still believe that they are protecting someone from death or great bodily injury.  If the person using deadly force is doing so to prevent a felony it must be a felony that involves the risk of great bodily injury or death.  For example the court in Garrett v. State, 1978 OK CR 126 held that a homicide was not justifiable when it was used to prevent the continued statutory rape of her foster daughter; the daughter was not in any imminent danger therefore the killing was not justified in the defense of others. 

 

OUJI-CR 8-3

DEFENSE OF ANOTHER -

JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE TO PREVENT OFFENSE

 

A person is justified in using reasonable force in aid or defense of another person who is about to be injured during the commission of a crime.

 

Once again the key word in this instruction is REASONABLE.  The force used to protect another must be reasonable in light of all the circumstances as viewed by a reasonable person.  Basically, you can’t shoot someone for stealing a bike but you can if they point a gun or knife at a person and rob them of their bike.  Use your head before you use deadly force is the best advice.

 

 

OUJI-CR 8-8

DEFENSE OF ANOTHER - WHEN DEFENSE AVAILABLE

 

If the person on whose behalf the defendant intervened (was not the original aggressor)/(did not provoke another with the intent to cause the altercation)/(did not voluntarily enter into mutual combat), the defendant may act on his/her reasonable belief that the person is in imminent danger of (death or great bodily harm)/(bodily harm).

 

You can defend a third party who is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm as long as the person you are defending is not the aggressor in the situation, did not provoke the altercation, or did not enter into the altercation voluntarily. You are only entitled to the defense of defense of another as long as you have chosen right to act on behalf of the party not at fault in the altercation, or the one who has withdrawn from the altercation. Hendrick v. State, 63 Okl. Cr. 100 (1937). 

 

OUJI-CR 8-6

DEFENSE OF ANOTHER - WHEN DEFENSE NOT AVAILABLE

 

Defense of another is permitted as a defense solely because of necessity. Defense of another is not available to a defendant when the person on whose behalf the defendant intervened (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 defense of another is reestablished.

 

Again this is almost identical to the self defense statute.  You cannot use deadly force to defend a third party when that party was the instigator of the altercation or if they entered into the altercation voluntarily.  

 

OUJI-CR 8-7

DEFENSE OF ANOTHER - DEFENSE REESTABLISHED

 

If the person on whose behalf the defendant intervened (was the original aggressor)/(provoked another with the intent to cause the altercation)/(voluntarily entered into mutual combat) but withdrew or attempted to withdraw from the altercation and communicated his/her desire to withdraw to the other participant(s) in the altercation, then the defendant would be entitled to the defense of defense of another.

 

This mirrors the self defense instruction on reestablishing the right to use deadly force.  If the person you are protecting has clearly withdrawn from the altercation, even if they were the aggressor to begin with, then you can be justified in the use of deadly force if that person is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.  

 

OUJI-CR 8-5

DEFENSE OF ANOTHER - BURDEN OF PROOF

 

It is the burden of the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in defense of another. If you find that the State has failed to sustain that burden, then the defendant must be found not guilty.

 

Once the issue of defense of another is raised by the defense then it is the prosecution burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  The state must overcome the defense beyond a reasonable doubt.  It is a decision for a jury as to whether the State has met that burden of proof. Bearded v. State, 458 P.2d 914 (Okl.Cr. 1969). If the defense does not come forward with evidence of defense of another the the issue of a defense of another has not been raised unless it was raised by evidence presented by the State in their case in chief. Meadows v. State, 487 P.2d 359 (Okl. Cr. 1971).

 

 

Defense of another is trickier than self defense in the sense that you must choose right in order to be justified in using deadly force.  If you use deadly force to intervene in a situation you better be positive that the person you are defending is not the aggressor, did not provoke the altercation and did not mutually enter into the altercation.  If the person you are defending with deadly force fits into any one of the prior categories then the defense of defense of others will not be available to you at trial.

 

 

STAND YOUR GROUND

 

Stand your ground law in Oklahoma if slightly different than self defense. Under the Stand Your Ground law there is a presumption created that if you are in your dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or place of business and someone forcibly enters into any one of those places, you are presumed to have a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm if you used deadly force to defend yourself and home.  Stand your ground law can be found in the statutes at 21 O.S. 1289.25.

 

21 O.S. 1289.25. Physical or Deadly Force against an Intruder

 

  1. The Legislature hereby recognizes that the citizens of the State of Oklahoma have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes or places of business.

 

B. A person or an owner, manager or employee of a business is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

 

  1. The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or a place of business, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against the will of that person from the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or place of business; and

 

2. The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

 

C. The presumption set forth in subsection B of this section does not apply if:

 

  1. 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, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not a protective order from domestic violence in effect or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person;

 

2. The person or persons sought to be removed are children or grandchildren, or are otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or

 

3. The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or place of business to further an unlawful activity.

 

D. A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

 

E. A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle of another person, or a place of business is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

 

F. A person who uses defensive force, as permitted pursuant to the provisions of subsections B and D of this section, is justified in using such defensive force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such defensive force. As used in this subsection, the term "criminal prosecution" includes charging or prosecuting the defendant.

 

G. A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of defensive force, but the law enforcement agency may not arrest the person for using defensive force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the defensive force that was used was unlawful.

 

H. The court shall award reasonable attorney fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection F of this section.

 

  1. The provisions of this section and the provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act shall not be construed to require any person using a weapon pursuant to the provisions of this section to be licensed in any manner.

 

J. A person pointing a weapon at a perpetrator in self-defense or in order to thwart, stop or deter a forcible felony or attempted forcible felony shall not be deemed guilty of committing a criminal act.

 

K. As used in this section:

 

  1. "Defensive force" includes, but shall not be limited to, pointing a weapon at a perpetrator in self-defense or in order to thwart, stop or deter a forcible felony or attempted forcible felony;

 

2. "Dwelling" means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people;

 

3. "Residence" means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest; and

 

4. "Vehicle" means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.

 

In order to avail yourself of the Stand Your Ground Law in Oklahoma the incident must occur in, or near, your dwelling, place of business, or occupied vehicle. Secondly, a forcible entry into one of the previously mentioned places was occurring or had already occurred. Third, the person using deadly force has a right to be in the place that they are in at the time the defensive force is used. 

 

A person cannot use the defense of Stand Your Ground if the person trying to enter the premises has a legal right to be there and is not subject to a protective order or a no contact order from the court.  You can’t shoot the husband for coming home to late and breaking a window to get in when he has been locked out.  The Husband would have the right to enter the premises as a legal resident of that premises, therefore stand your ground would not apply.  

 

Also, Stand Your Ground cannot be used as a defense if the person who is shot is the legal guardian of children in the house and is trying to get hem back.  This doesn’t mean that a person has the right just to kick someone else's door in to get their kids back, this is also a crime under most circumstances, but a person cannot claim the defense of stand your ground if they use deadly force against the person trying to get Their kids back.  

 

Lastly, if you are engaged in an unlawful act at the time you are using deadly force to defend your self then the Stand Your Ground defense will not apply.  If a person is actively committing a crime such as using an illegal weapon, possession of illegal drugs, actively assaulting someone or other similar crimes then the Stand Your Ground Defense is not available.  Dawkins v. State, 2011 OK CR 1.  The court further clarified that the “engaged in unlawful activity” language did not pertain to minor infractions of the law such as being illegally parked, jay walking, bad tag on your vehicle, misdemeanor warrants etc. Dawkins v. State, 2011 OK CR 1.

 

 

OUJI-CR 8-15

DEFENSE OF PERSON - JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE AGAINST INTRUDER

 

A/An person/(owner/manager/employee of a business) is justified in using force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another person who (was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering)/(unlawfully and forcibly entered) a dwelling/residence/(occupied vehicle)/(place of business) if the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry (was occurring)/(had occurred).

OR

A/An person/(owner/manager/employee of a business) is justified in using force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm if the person against whom the force was used (had attempted to remove)/(was attempting to remove) another person against the will of that other person from a dwelling/residence/(occupied vehicle)/(place of business) and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible removal/(attempt to remove) (was occurring)/(had occurred).

 

[A person is not justified in using force if:

The person against whom the force is used (has the right to be in)/(is a lawful resident of) the dwelling/residence/(occupied vehicle), such as a/an owner/lessee/titleholder, and there is not a (protective order from domestic violence in effect)/(a written pretrial supervision order of no contact) against that person.

OR

The person/persons sought to be removed are children/grandchildren/(in the lawful custody/( under the lawful guardianship) of the person against whom the force is used.

OR

The person who uses force is (engaged in)/(using the dwelling/residence/(occupied vehicle)/(place of business to further) an unlawful activity.]

 

["Dwelling" means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people.]

 

["Residence" means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.]

 

["Vehicle" means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.]

 

OUJI CR-8-15 is the law that the jury would receive in a stand your ground defense case. The Jury Instruction breaks down the statute to fit the particular situation at hand in the trial.  As you can see it is simplified, or is supposed to be, version of the statute that was gone over in the previous paragraph of this article.  

 

 

OUJI-CR 8-15A

DEFENSE OF PERSON - RIGHT TO STAND YOUR GROUND

 

A person has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his/her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he/she is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is attacked in any place where he/she has a right to be, if he/she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent (death/(great bodily harm) to himself/herself/ another)/(the commission of a forcible felony).

 

A person has no duty to retreat and may meet force with force in the State of Oklahoma.  This is similar to the self defense instruction but when coupled with the Stand Your Ground statute it creates a presumption that the person using deadly force to defend himself was reasonable in doing so because the attack occurred in a residence or dwelling.  This goes back to the old adage that a man, or woman, has a right to defend his/her castle.  This notion is deeply rooted in American culture and Oklahoma recognizes the right to stand your ground and meet force with force. 

 

OUJI-CR 8-14

DEFENSE OF PROPERTY - JUSTIFIABLE USE

OF DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF HABITATION

 

A person is justified in using deadly force when resisting any attempt by another to commit a felony upon or in any dwelling house in which that person is lawfully present. Defense of habitation is a defense although the danger that a felony would be committed upon or in the dwelling house may not have been real, if a reasonable person, in the circumstances and from the viewpoint of the defendant, would reasonably have believed that there was an imminent danger that such felony would occur.

 

This goes back to the old adage that a man, or woman, has a right to defend his/her castle.  If you reasonably believe, even if the threat is not real,  that there is imminent danger that a felony would occur upon or in the dwelling then the use of deadly force in defense is warranted. This notion is deeply rooted in American culture and Oklahoma recognizes the right to stand your ground and meet force with force, especially in your own home.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Self Defense, Defense of Others and Stand Your Ground are all defenses that can be raised if you use deadly force to defend yourself or your home.  All of these defenses have common themes that run through them; 

 

  1. A person must not be the aggressor, provoke  the altercation, or mutually enter into an altercation in order to be able to claim self defense, defense of others, or stand your ground.

 

  1. The person using deadly force in defense must have a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm.  The reasonableness of the persons action would be decided by a jury who views the altercation from the point of the person who used deadly force in defense.  Stand Your Ground defense creates an automatic presumption of reasonableness due to the fact that the altercation occurred in a dwelling, occupied vehicle or place of business.

 

  1. There is no duty to retreat in Oklahoma.  A person who is in the right may meet force with force and has no duty to attempted to leave the situation prior to using deadly force in defense.

 

  1. The burden of proof is on the State.  Once the defense has raised the issue of self defense, Defense of another or stand your ground, the State then has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was not justified in using deadly force in defense.

 

Reasonableness is the corner stone to to any self defense, defense of others or stand your ground case.  If you are ever confronted with a situation in which you might have to defend yourself, or others, with deadly force, use your head and make a rationale decision on whether to pull that trigger or not.

 

If you do have to pull the trigger, make sure that you do not make any statements to the police and contact Mark Cagle and Stephen Lee immediately to protect your rights.  A good lawyer could mean the difference between spending the rest of your life in prison or walking away a free man.

 

 

Tulsa Criminal Attorney Disclaimer: Mark Cagle & Stephen Lee only provides legal advice after having entered into an attorney client relationship, which this website specifically does not create. Only after having entered into a representation agreement with Tulsa Criminal Attorney will an attorney-client relationship have been created. It is imperative that any action taken by you should be done on advice of legal counsel.*

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