Defense and Criticism of Homicide Law Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Homicide Law is invoked in cases where cause of wrongful death of a human being is being investigated. The accused or defendant is tried under the appropriate sections of the law according to the merits of the case. The death may have taken place as an outcome of inconsiderate, reckless action of the accused or may have been willful, premeditated, intentional planning by the defendant. These mental afflictions and the perceived intentions resulting in the death attract vastly different penalties under Homicide Laws. Deaths caused in accidents may be viewed leniently by the court, whereas intentional killing attracts punishment of life term or even death where still applicable. Homicide cases are serious legal proceedings where the help of able criminal lawyers should be availed immediately by the accused (Homicide Law).

Support for Homicide Law Today

Many states support Homicide Laws, for instance, death caused to fetus was included under Homicide Law by the state Senate New Hampshire, though the fetus age at which such implementation could be applied continued to be contested in the House. Fetus death would attract punishments under first-degree, second-degree-murder or negligent homicide. Exceptions to this rule included medical, assented termination of pregnancies by the woman carrying the child or legal guardian of the lady in question (Ramer, 2012). According to the House, the applicable age of the fetus would be 24 months whereas the senate voted in favor of threshold of 8 weeks into pregnancy. The senate had also discussed the point of conception or viability variables. The governor (John Lynch) himself, who supported the standard of viability, contested the concern of the Senate (Ramer, 2012).

The immediate cause for the enactment was the car crash that took place in which a drunk driver jumped the signal colliding with a car driven by a seven-month pregnant woman. An emergency cesarean section had to be performed that delivered a still born, which, though put on life support died after two weeks (Ramer, 2012). The negligent driver escaped negligent homicide, as at that time, to be considered a person, the baby had to be at least breathing and showing some signs of life at the time of delivery.

The extreme case of homicide is the premeditated, intentional murder and the intentions could be held for long or even short-term. In the event of intent to kill a person even if another person is killed (inadvertently), the crime is still considered first-degree murder (Homicide Definition). In cases where prior planning is not affirmed, yet there the intention to kill is substantiated, as in the case of "in a fit of anger," voluntary manslaughter or second-degree charges may be applied and the variation depends on the particular States' laws. Manslaughter is considered a slightly lesser evil murder, and lesser still is involuntary manslaughter.

Involuntary manslaughter is applied to cases where death is caused in accidents wherein the defaulter driver was (Driving Under Influence). DUI is considered an act of criminal negligence (Homicide Definition). Voluntary manslaughter refers to cases of death of a person where premeditation or forethought of murder is not an established fact, and each state treats these situations differently. Different states interpret manslaughter differently, and provisions are made for exceptions to killings otherwise considered manslaughter, and then called "justified homicide." "Justified homicide" is best depicted as an act of killing in self-defense or even in trying to defend another vulnerable victim (Homicide Definition). Killing under substantiated acts such as these are usually allowed to escape manslaughter charges in intended murder, armed robbery or rape types of crimes.

Homicide Law Criticism

The felony murder doctrine has been contested for long. Some of these criticisms were well founded or at least had merit to some questionable provisions under these laws. Surprisingly, some of the drafters of MPC (Model Penal Code) also criticize the felony murder doctrine. The Supreme Court of Michigan however found little validity in the criticisms. For a considerable period, these laws were a part of every state law, although there was no valid reason offered for retaining it (Crump, 2009).

The discussions surrounding felony murder doctrine continues even today and two queries still need attention (Crump, 2009). The First is how to answer the latest criticisms to these laws? That becomes important, as even the previous queries have not been countered…

Sources Used in Document:


1)HOMICIDE LAW, Legal Resources,

2)HOLLY RAMER, Senate Backs Including Fetus Death in Homicide Law, The Telegraph, (May, 18, 2012),

3) Crump David, Reconsidering the Felony Murder Rule in Light of Modern Criticisms: Doesn't the Conclusion Depend upon the Particular Rule at Issue?, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, (2009),


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