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Senate approves bill increasing manslaughter statute of limitations; measure is the first passed in the 2020 session

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star

The full Senate has voted in favor of a measure that would increase Oklahoma’s statute of limitations for both first and second degree manslaughter.  Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, is principal author of Senate Bill 414.  The Senate gave unanimous approval to the bill on Wednesday, the first bill to pass off the floor during the 2020 legislative session.

A statute of limitations is the amount of time prosecutors have from the discovery or commission of a crime to file charges.  The current statute of limitations for first or second degree manslaughter is three years.  SB 414 would raise the statute of limitations to 10 years from discovery.

“Currently, the statute of limitations for embezzlement of public money is seven years after discovery.  It’s five years after commission for bogus check violations.  It’s five years after commission for income tax violations,” Paxton said.  “Given the fact that we’re talking about a crime that results in the loss of human life, it just makes sense to increase the statute of limitations for manslaughter.”

An example of first degree manslaughter would include a person who unintentionally causes someone’s death while committing a misdemeanor crime. Second degree manslaughter could be charged in a death caused by another person’s culpable negligence.

“A district attorney has seven years to file charges after someone commits arson, but if your child is killed while riding her bike, that same prosecutor only has three years.  That just isn’t right,” Paxton said.  “Senate Bill 414 gives prosecutors more time to seek justice in manslaughter cases.”

The measure, which was requested by the District Attorneys Council, now moves to the House for further consideration.

For more information, contact Sen. Lonnie Paxton at 405-521-5537 or email