An Oklahoma lawmaker unveiled new legislation this week meant to protect people from “malicious prosecution” in cases where they use self-defense.
News of the legislation came just days after 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, and two other serious felonies. Rittenhouse was charged by prosecutors less than two days after he alleged he fired on protesters in Kenosha in self-defense last August. A jury of Rittenhouse’s peers ultimately agreed that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.
What are the details?
Oklahoma state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R) announced on Tuesday plans to file SB 1120 to protect Oklahomans and ensure that using self-defense does not result in being criminally charged and taken to trial for “political reasons.”
The bill, which is also called “Kyle’s law,” would permit “victims of malicious prosecution would be able to receive compensation for expenses and damages.”
If the bill becomes law, Oklahomans would be awarded “fair and just compensation” if they are charged with murder, yet found not guilty because it was determined they acted in self-defense. In such cases, the state would be obligated to “reimburse the defendant for all reasonable costs, including loss of wages, legal fees incurred, and other expenses involved in their defense,” a press release explained.
The press release explained further:
SB 1120 further states that in order to support a claim of malicious prosecution, the claimant must establish that the prosecution was instituted or instigated by the prosecutor and was without probable cause; that the prosecution had legally and finally been terminated in favor of the claimant; and that as a result of the criminal prosecution, the claimant sustained injury.
Malice may be established if the motive for the prosecution was something other than a desire to bring an offender to justice, or that it was one with ill will or hatred, or willfully done in a wanton or oppressive manner and in conscious disregard of the claimant’s rights. Under the legislation, a prosecutor may be held personally liable to a claimant if malicious prosecution is established.
What did Dahm say?
In his statement, Dahm said lawmakers have a duty to protect their constituents from politically motivated prosecution.
“Kyle Rittenhouse should never have been charged. The video evidence from early on showed it was lawful self-defense,” Dahm said.
“It is our duty to protect the rights of the people we represent, and the right to self-defense is paramount. This bill will ensure that what happened to Kyle Rittenhouse cannot happen to the people of Oklahoma,” he explained.
After Rittenhouse was acquitted, commentators and politicians suggested the entire criminal case against Rittenhouse was politically motivated. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) even floated an investigation into the Kenosha prosecutors who tried Rittenhouse.