Abolish The Felony Murder Rule in the US


1.  The Felony Murder Rule operates as a matter of law upon proof of the intent to commit a felony to relieve the prosecution of its burden of proving intent to kill, which is a necessary element of murder.

2.  The intention to commit a felony does not equal the intention to kill, nor is the intention to commit a felony, by itself, sufficient to establish a charge of murder.

3.  The Felony Murder Rule erodes the relation between criminal liability and moral culpubility in that it punishes all homicides in the commission, or attempted commission, of the proscribed felonies, whether intentional, unintentional or accidental, without proving the relation between the homicide and the perpetrator's state of mind.

4.  Under the FMR, the defendant's state of mind is irrelevant.  Because intent is a characterization of a particular state of mind with respect to a killing, FM bears little resemblance to the offense of murder except in name.  First-degree murder is an arbitrary assignment.

5.  Holding one or many criminally liable for the bad results of an act which differs greatly from the intended results is based on a concept of culpability which is totally at odds with the general principles of jurisprudence.

6.  It is fundementally unfair and in violation of basic principles of individual criiminal culpability to hold one felon liable for the unforeseen and un-agreed to results of another felon's action.

7.  The basic rule of culpability is further violated when felony murder is catagorized as first-degree murder because all other first-degree murders (carrying equal punishment) require a showing of premeditation, deliberation and willfulness, while FM only requires a showing of intent to do the underlying felony.

8.  The purpose of creating degrees of murder is to punish with increased severity the more culpable forms of murder, but an accidental killing the commission or attempted commission of a felony is punished more severely than a second-degree murder.

9.  While the FMR survives in TN, NC, VA, WV, FL, IN, CA and other states, the numerous modifications and restrictions of it by some states' courts and legislatures throughout the U.S. reflect dissatisfaction with the basic harshness and injustice of the doctrine and call into question its continued existence.

10. The FMR can be used by prosecutors in a manner so as to cause grossly disproportionate sentencing, depending on the circumstances of each individual case.

11. The FMR is probably unconstitutional because presumption of innocense is thrown to the wind.  The prosecution needs only to prove intent to commit the underlying felony: that done, first-degree murder becomes part and parcel of the underlying felony because intent to commit murder does not have to be proved.

12. (a)  The FMR is unconstitutional because in some cases it vilates the Eighth Amendment: cruel and unusual punishment, grossly disproportionate to the crime(s) actually committed.

     (b)  The FMR holds unequally involved parties equally accountable and punishable.  Again, cruel and unusual punishment if you are only the lookout for a robber who happens to kill in the process of the robbery.

13. The FMR vilates the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process because no defense is allowed on the charge of first-degree murder, only the underlying felony.

14.  The FMR bears no rational relationship or equity in its two penalties, with the penalties of other murder laws, including at times, the charge of first-degree murder.

15.  It is no longer acceptable to equate the intent to commit a felony with the intent to kill.

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