A crime of passion seems like a term you only hear in stories. However, it is a real defense strategy that defendants can use to support their case. For this to work there needs to be a clear understanding of what this term means.
This won’t work for every case as it needs to follow a certain set of guidelines. Read on to learn more about crimes of passion and how they can change your case.
Defining Crimes of Passion
The legal definition of a crime of passion is that the offense was committed in the “heat of the moment.” That means that a “reasonable person” would be able to commit such acts when provoked to do so. At that moment, the person does not have time to cool down or assess their own actions.
It’s a bit more complicated than the love and lust tales that we often hear about. While the crime might be committed out of heartbreak, it can also be done out of rage. Typically, the perpetrator and the victim will have a personal relationship.
Although not always the case, many of these crimes are associated with sexual conduct. If this is the case, a sex crimes attorney can help you gain better insight into your particular situation.
Crime of Passion Vs. Premeditated Crime
One of the most telling signs of a crime of passion is that it occurs directly following a triggering event. This makes it different from a premeditated crime.
A passion killing would have to happen with no malice aforethought or premeditation. If there were any plans to do so before the event, then the murder would be a premeditated crime.
An example of a crime of passion would be a man coming home from work to find his wife sleeping with another man. As a result, he becomes so enraged that he shoots them both. This would not be a premeditated crime unless he knew about the affair before.
Manslaughter and Second Degree Murder
In a successful crime of passion case, the charge has the potential to be knocked down. Instead of a first-degree murder charge, a defendant might get manslaughter or second-degree murder. This is to not excuse the act of killing but serves to acknowledge and award the appropriate punishment.
First-degree murder’s definition is typically associated with premeditation. Therefore, this is not the appropriate charge or punishment.
Each state has a differing understanding and implementation of these crimes. However, the provocation must be able to ignite a spark in what they recognize as a reasonable person.
Understanding Crimes of Passion
Crimes of passion are more common than you think and can happen to any of us. Given the right situation, people can be pushed to their limits. Using this strategy, you can get the right punishment for the crime.
Are you going through a legal battle? Be sure to check out our other legal content to help you in the process.