Castle Doctrine Law: Oklahoma

Oklahoma has for a long time been a state with comprehensive, easy-to-understand self-defense laws that have more or less been continually updated over time to further favor the rights of citizens.

flag of oklahoma

In particular, Oklahoma has a clearly-worded castle doctrine statute that positively affirms the expectation of complete safety when a person is inside their own home, business, a temporary dwelling, or place of worship.

So long as a person is defending themselves or others from the commission or imminent commission of a forcible felony or any use of unlawful force which may result in great bodily injury or death the use of lethal force in self-defense is justified with no obligation whatsoever to retreat or attempt a retreat.

Oklahoma has what might be considered model castle doctrine laws in many respects, and we will tell you everything you need to know about their laws in the rest of this article.

OK Castle Doctrine

Fast Facts

  • Oklahoma law presumes that a defender has a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury if they’re home, dwelling, business, vehicle or place of worship is being forcibly entered by an intruder.
  • Oklahoma law also states that a defender is justified to use lethal force and self-defense of themselves or a third party to prevent certain forcible felonies or the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
  • Happily, Oklahoma law states plainly that any citizen residing in the state has the expectation of absolute safety in their home and other structures where they have a legal, lawful right to be.

Overview of Castle Doctrine Law in Oklahoma

There is so much to like about Oklahoma’s self-defense laws. Right out of the gate, section 21-1289.25 paragraph A states plainly that the Oklahoma legislature recognizes that all citizens of the State of Oklahoma have the right to expect absolute safety within their homes and other places they have a lawful right to be.

In the very next paragraph, B, of the same section it is stated that any person in a place of worship or a business is presumed to have had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury when using lethal defensive force against an intruder who had already forcibly and unlawfully entered the premises or was in the process of forcibly and unlawfully entering and was doing so under the belief that the intruder was unlawfully entering with the intention of committing a forcible felony.

What is a forcible felony? Things like robbery, home invasion, murder, kidnapping, rape, etc.

Furthermore, just a little further down in paragraph E this section states that any such person who is unlawfully and forcibly entering a residence or other dwelling, place of business, place of worship, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intention of committing an unlawful act involving force or violence, i.e. a forcible felony.

At no time does any defender acting under the above circumstances have an obligation to retreat or to attempt a retreat.

Restrictions

Oklahoma’s castle doctrine statutes are certainly comprehensive, but nonetheless, there are some restrictions regarding the use of lethal force in self-defense as you might imagine.

First, force, including lethal force may never be used against a person who has a lawful right to be in or occupy the dwelling, residence, vehicle, or place of worship.

If someone is an owner, title holder or lessee another occupant is never justified in using force against them unless there is a domestic violence protective order in effect or an order of no contact against that person.

Additionally, anyone who is entering a property to remove children or grandchildren under their lawful custody or anyone else under their lawful guardianship is never subject to the above stipulations on the use of force in defense.

Lastly, any person who occupies a residence, dwelling, place of business, vehicle, or place of worship and is engaged in any other unlawful activity or using any such structure or conveyance to further an unlawful activity may never use force in defense or particularly lethal force in defense.

Said another way, if you are committing any kind of crime or using a structure or vehicle as a base of operations for a crime you cannot claim self-defense when repelling an intruder.

Assessment

Oklahoma is a state that is firmly on the side of citizens when it comes to self-defense, and its castle doctrine statute and clarifications are among the very best in the nation.

So long as a person is in their home or other dwellings, place of business, house of worship or occupying a vehicle they have an absolute right to use force and defense of themselves or other occupants against any attempt at forcible entry of the same premises or conveyance or against the commission or imminent commission of a forcible felony.

Relevant Oklahoma Castle Doctrine Statutes

21-142.3. DEFINITIONS

(…)

5.a.”Criminally injurious conduct” means a misdemeanor or felony which occurs or is attempted in this state, or against a resident of this state in a state that does not have an eligible crime victims compensation program as such term is defined in the federal Victims of Crime Act of 1984, Public Law 98-473, that results in bodily injury, threat of bodily injury or death to a victim which:

(1)may be punishable by fine, imprisonment or death, or

(2)if the act is committed by a child, could result in such child being adjudicated a delinquent child.

b.Such term shall not include acts arising out of the negligent maintenance or use of a motor vehicle unless:

(1)the vehicle was operated or driven by the offender while under the influence of alcohol, with a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit, or while under the influence of any other intoxicating substance,

(2)the vehicle was operated or driven by the offender with the intent to injure or kill the victim or in a manner imminently dangerous to another person and evincing a depraved mind, although without any premeditated design to injure or effect the death of any particular person,

(3)the offense involved willful, malicious or felonious failure to stop after being involved in a personal injury accident to avoid detection or prosecution, provided the victim of the accident was a pedestrian or was operating a vehicle moved solely by human power or a mobility device at the time of contact, or

(…)

c.“Criminally injurious conduct” shall include an act of terrorism, as defined in Section 2331 of Title 18, United States Code, committed outside the United States;

(…)

14. “Victim” means a person who suffers personal injury or death as a result of criminally injurious conduct and shall include a resident of this state who is injured or killed by an act of terrorism committed outside of the United States.

21-1289.25 – PHYSICAL OR DEADLY FORCE AGAINST INTRUDER

A. The Legislature hereby recognizes that the citizens of the State of Oklahoma have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes, places of business or places of worship and have the right to establish policies regarding the possession of weapons on property pursuant to the provisions of Section 1290.22 of this title.

B. A person, regardless of official capacity or lack of official capacity, within a place of worship or a person, 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.a.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, place of business or place of worship, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against the will of that person from the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, place of business or place of worship.

b.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; or

2. The person who uses defensive force knew or had a reasonable belief that the person against whom the defensive force was used entered or was attempting to enter into a dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, place of business or place of worship for the purpose of committing a forcible felony, as defined in Section 733 of this title, and that the defensive force was necessary to prevent the commission of the forcible felony.

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, place of business or place of worship 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, place of business or place of worship 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 A, B, D and E 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.

I. 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. “Place of worship” means:

a.any permanent building, structure, facility or office space owned, leased, rented or borrowed, on a full-time basis, when used for worship services, activities and business of the congregation, which may include, but not be limited to, churches, temples, synagogues and mosques, and

b.any permanent building, structure, facility or office space owned, leased, rented or borrowed for use on a temporary basis, when used for worship services, activities and business of the congregation including, but not limited to, churches, temples, synagogues and mosques;

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

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

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