What is felony murder? How does it differ from other forms of murder?
Felony murder is defined as the death of a victim that occurs during the commission of a crime that was not intended to happen. Felonies are crimes punishable by death or prison time in a state or federal prison. Lists of felonies include, but are not limited to: aggravated assault and/or battery, arson, burglary, illegal drug use or sales, grand theft, robbery and rape.
For example, if an elderly woman, with a heart condition, dies while a robbery is taken place in her home, the robber can be charged with felony murder. Although the robbers intention was to souly rob the victim, he unintentionally killed the elderly woman with the stress of the situation. Another example would be a case in 1999 in Florida. A taxi driver was being robbed by 2 men and was threatened if he did not cooperate. He was forced from his cab and ran for help, but collapsed and died before help could arrive. Even though the 2 men did not physically kill the victim, the stress of the situation mixed with a heart problem, did. One of the robbers was convicted of felony murder; the other was still at large.
There are several different murder charges that can be charged to a criminal. The difference between those and felony murder is the unintentional death of a victim during the commission of the crime. Felony murder rule is defined by our text as a rule that establishes murder liability for a defendant if another person dies during the commission of certain felonies. It is not only that the death occurred at the same time of the felony, the death must be linked to the felony that caused the death.
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