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Criminal Law CJ 220. Chapter 9 / Crimes Against Persons: Criminal Homicide. Andrew Fulkerson, JD, PhD Southeast Missouri State University. Criminal Homicide History. Early common law Killing either: Justified - no crime Unjustified - crime. Criminal Homicide History.

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criminal law cj 220

Criminal Law CJ 220

Chapter 9 / Crimes Against Persons: Criminal Homicide

Andrew Fulkerson, JD, PhD

Southeast Missouri State University

criminal homicide history
Criminal Homicide History
  • Early common law
  • Killing either:
    • Justified - no crime
    • Unjustified - crime
criminal homicide history3
Criminal Homicide History
  • By 1700 law recognized three types homicide:
    • Justifiable homicide
    • Excusable homicide
    • Criminal homicide
criminal homicide history4
Criminal Homicide History
  • Justifiable Homicide:
    • Self-defense
    • Capital punishment
    • Police use of deadly force
criminal homicide history5
Criminal Homicide History
  • Excusable homicide
    • Insanity
    • Accidental killing
criminal homicide history6
Criminal Homicide History
  • Criminal homicide
    • Killing that is not justified or excused
criminal homicide history7
Criminal Homicide History
  • Two degrees of homicide
    • Murder
    • Manslaughter
  • Determined by mens rea
  • Murder – killing with malice aforethought
    • Malice-intentional killing without excuse
    • Aforethought-planned in advance (premeditated)
modern levels of homicide
Modern Levels of Homicide
  • Murder
    • First degree
    • Second degree
  • Manslaughter
    • Voluntary
    • Involuntary
  • Negligent Homicide
elements in grading murder
Elements in grading murder
  • Mens rea
  • Actus reus
  • Circumstance elements
    • Felony murder
    • Vulnerable victim
    • Motive
elements of criminal homicide
Elements of Criminal Homicide

Homicide – killing another live human being – (common law crime)

Justifiable homicide– self-defense, police use of deadly force

Excusable homicide– accidental killing; killing while insane

Criminal homicide– neither justified or excused

elements of criminal homicide11
Elements of Criminal Homicide
  • Taking a Life
  • At common law a “life” was a live human being
elements of criminal homicide12
Elements of Criminal Homicide

When Does Life Begin?

  • Common law – life began when baby born
  • Some states have fetal death statutes
elements of criminal homicide13
Elements of Criminal Homicide
  • Distinguish between legal abortion and killing without woman’s consent in non-medical manner
  • Roe v. Wade held that it is unconstitutional to make it a crime to terminate a pregnancy under certain circumstances
elements of criminal homicide14
Elements of Criminal Homicide
  • When does life end?
  • Historically, life ended when there was no breathing and heartbeat.
elements of criminal homicide15
Elements of Criminal Homicide
  • Medical science now has capacity to maintain respiration and circulation artificially through machines, even though there is no brain function.
  • Brain death is now considered as when life ends.
elements of criminal homicide16
Elements of Criminal Homicide
  • Causing Another’s Death
  • Causation
  • Proximate cause
  • “Year and a day rule”
  • At common law murder was killing another person, with express or implied malice aforethought.
  • Malice aforethought included the following mental states:
  • Intent to kill
  • Intent to inflict bodily harm
  • Intent to commit dangerous felonies
  • Intent to resist arrest by force
  • Creation of a greater than reckless risk of death or serious bodily harm (called “depraved heart murder”)
criminal law cj 22019

Criminal Law CJ 220

Chapter 9 / Crimes Against Persons: Criminal Homicide

Andrew Fulkerson, JD, PhD

Southeast Missouri State University

  • First-Degree Murder
  • Common law graded murder by degrees-all homicides capital crimes.
  • Pennsylvania was first state to establish degrees of murder. Due to death penalty reform.
  • Premeditated, Deliberate Murder
  • First degree murder has narrow definition of intent to kill
  • Mens rea is premeditated deliberate killing
  • Premeditated means D planned murder in advance
  • Deliberate means D killed in “cold blood” not in sudden rage
  • Most courts eliminate element of advance planning.
  • Intent can be formed in an instant
  • Some courts have held the intent can be formed at the very moment the shot was fired.
  • Heinous or Atrocious Murder
  • Some states include heinous or atrocious killing as within 1st degree murder, as aggravating factors to justify the higher grade of murder.
  • Henyard v. State, 689 So.2d 239 (Fla. 1996)
  • Commonwealth v. Golston 373 Mass. 249, 366 N.E.2d 744 (1977)
  • Duest v. State, 462 So.2d 446 (Fla. 1985)

Second-Degree Murder

  • Generally: Intentional killings which are not premeditated, justified or excused.
  • (a broader definition) Arizona:
  • Person intentionally causes death of another person; or
  • Knowing his conduct will cause death or serious physical injury, causes the death of another person; or
  • Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, D engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death and causes the death of another person.
  • People v. Thomas,

85 Mich. App. 618, 272 N.W.2d 157 (1978)

felony murder
Felony Murder
  • Killing one you did not mean to kill while committing some felonies.
  • Which felonies? Most common:
    • criminal sexual conduct
    • kidnapping
    • arson
    • robbery
    • burglary
felony murder33
Felony Murder
  • No intent to kill in felony murder
  • Intent to commit the felony is transferred to the intent to kill
  • Intent to commit the felony satisfies the mens rea for felony murder. Intent to commit the felony makes the D blameworthy enough
felony murder34
Felony Murder
  • Public policy goals of felony murder laws.
  • Deter offenders: additional threat of murder conviction intended to prevent persons from committing felonies that could result in death.
felony murder35
Felony Murder
  • Public policy goals of felony murder laws.
  • Reduce violence: Threat of murder conviction intended to reduce violence in commission of felonies. Make felons be more careful in their criminal acts.
felony murder36
Felony Murder
  • Public policy goals of felony murder laws.
  • Punish offenders: Persons who commit felonies creating high risk of death or injury during crimes should be punished more harshly.
felony murder37
Felony Murder
  • Research: Felony murder laws do not deter dangerous criminal offenders or reduce number of deaths in felonies.
  • Four states, Ohio, Hawaii, Michigan, and Kentucky, have abolished felony murder.
  • Other states have limited felony murder to foreseeable deaths.
felony murder38
Felony Murder
  • Deaths caused by third persons.
  • What if victim, a police officer, or a co-D killed someone?
  • Some states do not include deaths caused by third persons.
felony murder39
Felony Murder
  • Resisting victim exception.
  • Some states that exclude third party deaths have a resisting victim exception. When the victim resists and kills a person, the D can be guilty of felony murder. Foreseeable that a victim will resist.
felony murder40
Felony Murder
  • Dangerous felonies.
  • Example: California Supreme Court held a chiropractor who fraudulently treated patient for cancer who died not guilty of felony murder. Fraud not a dangerous felony.
felony murder41
Felony Murder
  • State v. Stewart,

663 A.2d 912 (RI 1995)

felony murder42
Felony Murder
  • People v. Phillips, 414 P.2d 353 (Cal. 1966)
corporate murder
Corporate Murder
  • Corporations can be charged with criminal offenses.
    • Ford Motor Co. charged with reckless homicide for the exploding Pintos.
      • (case dismissed for reasons other than corporate liability)
    • Autumn Hills Convalescent Homes, for deaths resulting from neglect of residents.
ford exploding pinto
Ford Exploding Pinto
  • From Ford Motor Company internal memorandum: "Fatalities Associated with Crash-Induced Fuel Leakage and Fires."
corporate murder47
Corporate Murder
  • Prosecutors rarely charge corporations with homicide, and courts rarely convict.
    • Even though corporations are legal “persons”, courts are reluctant to view them as such for criminal purposes.
  • Culpability is difficult to establish
  • officers not know of the acts
  • officers not authorize the killing
corporate murder48
Corporate Murder
  • People v. O’Neil,

194 Ill.App.3d 79, 550 N.E.2d 1090 (1990)

criminal law cj 22049

Criminal Law CJ 220

Chapter 9 / Crimes Against Persons: Criminal Homicide

Andrew Fulkerson, JD, PhD

Southeast Missouri State University

  • Voluntary Manslaughter: intentional killing of a person under extenuating circumstances.
  • Imperfect self-defense
    • an honest but not reasonable belief that the killing is necessary for self-defense. Ex. Can reduce 1st degree murder to voluntary manslaughter.
  • Missouri - voluntary manslaughter
  • circumstances that would be 2d degree murder, except it occurred in heat of passion, or an assisted suicide
  • Provocation.
  • Adequate provocation rule: conditions
    • sudden heat of passion
    • without time to “cool off”
    • provocation caused the passion and killing
    • provocation is recognized by law
  • Provocations recognized by law:
    • mutual combat
    • assault and battery
    • trespass
    • adultery
  • Mere words are never adequate provocation.

Commonwealth v. Schnopps,

390 Mass. 722, 459 N.E.2d 98 (1983)

manslaughter provocation
Manslaughter / Provocation
  • People v. Washington, (1976)
      • Involuntary Manslaughter
      • Distinguished by it’s mens rea of unintentional killing.
  • Three kinds of involuntary manslaughter
    • criminal recklessness manslaughter
    • criminal negligence manslaughter
    • unlawful act manslaughter
  • Definition
      • Recklessness: conscious creation of substantial and unjustifiable risk
      • Negligence: creating substantial and unjustifiable risk of which D should have been aware, but was not.
  • State v. Mays,

2000 WL 1033098 (Ohio App. 1 Dist., 2000)

  • Unlawful Act Manslaughter
  • Unintended death caused by unlawful act. Trend is to abolish this level of homicide. Michigan still has this offense, but is limited to deaths following assaults.
  • People v. Datema,

448 Mich. 585, 533 N.W.2d 272 (1995)