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Is a ‘crime of passion’ really a defense?

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

You may have heard people talk about how something can be a crime of passion. This generally just means that they were suddenly exposed to an unexpected situation and they committed a crime as a result. For example, this may happen when someone who finds their spouse having an affair decides to assault or even take the life of the other romantic partner.

But you may be confused about why anyone would even use this as a defense. By claiming that you committed a crime of passion, aren’t you essentially admitting that you did the crime? How could this actually defend your position?

Removing the element of intent

In a case that is as serious as homicide, it’s important to remember that defense is not just about shaking the charges entirely. There are many situations in which you could be trying to reduce your sentence. You’re seeking lesser charges than you could be given otherwise.

This is when a crime of passion matters. One of the qualifications for first-degree murder is that someone has to have intent or malice aforethought. It’s not enough that they just took someone’s life. They had to plan out how they were going to do it and intend to do it.

By establishing something as a crime of passion, it becomes clear that you had no intent to do anything wrong. You were just taken by surprise. But it wasn’t premeditated at all. This can sometimes get the first-degree murder charges dropped and replaced by something else, such as manslaughter charges.

Those who are facing serious charges absolutely need to know about all of the legal options at their disposal.