When someone is charged with murder, they are being accused of the unlawful taking of another human being’s life. This is usually from intentional acts—whether for the purpose of causing death or not. Because it is intentional in some way, the courts will give out harsh punishments to those who are convicted for murdering another human being, including lifelong prison sentences or even the death penalty.
Felony murder is different. This type of murder occurs when someone is killed during the commission of a crime—whether the perpetrator originally intended to murder or not. The key difference here is that felony murder is a very serious crime and can be punishable similar to intentional murder.
How the Felony Federal Murder Rule Works
Murder often requires intent to cause death. But, with felony murder, there only needs to be intent to commit a crime. During the felony, any homicide that occurs during that crime can be considered murder—even if it is accidental. This is referred to as the “felony murder rule.”
Under this rule, anyone who participates in the felony can also be charged with murder if a person dies including those who played no part in the actual death. For example, a bank robbery is occurring. The getaway driver is away from the inside of the bank, where a security guard is shot by one of the robbers. The getaway driver can still be charged with felony murder regardless if they were present for the homicide.
The purpose of this rule is to deter individuals from committing felony crimes altogether.
Limitations to the Rule
There are many people who disagree with using the felony murder rule. They find that the rule is not fair nor does it take into account a person’s true intention to kill another human being. Since someone can be charged with murder for someone else’s act, it is often found to be an unjust crime. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be convicted.
There are limitations when felony murder can be used. Some cases that can have the felony murder rule applied include:
- Robbery or burglary
- Escaping from law enforcement
Arrested for Felony Murder? Call a Defense Attorney Right Away
If you have been arrested for felony murder, you need to contact a top criminal defense attorney right away. The penalties could include years in prison if convicted, which also depend on the case. The team at Anderson O’Sullivan & Associates can help you with your case. Call us now to schedule a free consultation by calling 305-379-8688.