capital offense- A crime which is punishable by the death penalty. This type of crime is referred to as a "capital" offense. The type of death sentence varies from state to state. Many states use lethal injection. The types of crimes punishable by death vary from state to state. In many states murder one is found where the killing was premeditated or where the murder occurred with special circumstances such as with an automatic gun, when the victim is an officer or state official, or in the case of treason. In almost all states, a capital offense results in confinement without bail.
crime of passion- A mitigating factor in a crime said to be caused by passion rather than specific intent. To make this claim the defendant must prove he or she was provoked into a state of passion and without time for contemplation or cooling off.
felony murder doctrine- The law that any death which occurs during the commission of a dangerous felony is considered per se a murder in the first degree. The prosecutor does not have to prove that the accused intended to kill the person, only that he or she intended to commit the dangerous crime. For example: a perpetrator robs a bank with a toy gun, a felony. The teller has a heart attack in the process, the death. Under these facts the perpetrator could be criminally convicted of murder.
first degree murder- Commonly considered the killing of a human being with deliberate and premeditated intent. The intent can be proved by showing the killing was planned or was part of a scheme. It can also be the result of a death committed in the commission of a dangerous felony. The specific elements for first degree murder and their variations are established by statute in each state.
heat of passion- A state of emotional rage wherein the accused is unable to form the required specific intent of a legally deliberate act. In some states, showing this state of emotional rage may bring a murder charge down to one of manslaughter.
homicide- The unlawful killing of another human being. Included among homicides are the crimes of murder and manslaughter. Defenses to a homicide include self-defense, accident and insanity. The courts look to whether the defendant possessed the required specific intent to do harm.
justifiable homicide- A killing of a human being without criminal intent. There can be no criminal liability for such a killing. Examples include self-defense and insanity.
manslaughter- The unlawful but unintentional killing of another person. It is commonly distinguished from murder because of the absence of the intention to kill or create a dangerous situation. There are two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is considered a killing which occurs in heat of passion. The act suggests the defendant could not control his or her actions. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a death is caused by a violation such as drunk driving.
mayhem- The intentional and criminal act of cutting, disfiguring or dismembering a human being. This form of hideous crime carries the most severe penalties and is considered a compound or aggravated felony.
murder- The intentional killing of a human being with malice aforethought and without legal excuse or justification. Many states consider it murder when a killing results while in the course of a felony such as a car jacking or a robbery. Most states consider it murder when the killing results from torture, kidnapping or the death of a police officer.
second degree murder- The killing of a human being without malice or premeditation. Most states have specific statutory distinctions between murder in the first degree and second degree. Murder in the first degree is usually a killing that was premeditated and was particularly malicious.
self-defense- Self-defense is a common defense to assault, battery or homicide. It is interpreted to mean that degree of reasonable force necessary to protect oneself from physical harm. Self-defense cannot include killing or great bodily harm to defend property, unless it also threatens to harm that person. A common example is self-defense during the commission of a burglary.
wrongful death- A cause of action by the heirs and/or loved ones of a person killed by the negligence of another.
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