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Felony Murder

Contact Attorney Jason Chan

Attorney Jason Chan

267 North Beacon Street, Suite 3
Boston MA 01235

Phone: 781-343-1DUI (781-343-1384)
Fax: 617-226-7986

The law recognizes that murder happens in many ways and that there are various levels of culpability. When most people think about the charge of murder, they probably think of first degree murder where the killing occurred as a result of premeditation and deliberation in so called “cold blood.”  But there are many other ways in which you could be charged with murder including second degree, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and the less discussed felony murder.

murder crime scene

 Felony murder is a modern crime created by statute. You can be convicted of felony murder if a killing occurs during the commission of or in furtherance of an inherently dangerous felony. An inherently dangerous felony includes burglary, arson, robbery, rape, and kidnapping. This statute holds anyone liable for murder even if their intent was not to kill but to achieve some other dangerous crime. To be found guilty, the death must be from a natural and probable outcome of committing the felony. Also, the felony must be independent of the killing and the prosecution must be able to prove the underlying felony. It is important to note that if the death occurs after the felon has reached a point of safety, then the felon cannot be charged with felony murder.

 taken by Walt Jabsco’s

There are a few views on whether a felon should be charged with felony murder if they are not the one who actually committed the murder. For example, if two people are robbing a bank and the police accidently shoot and kill a bank teller, should they be charged with felony murder? States vary on the answer to this question. In some districts it doesn’t matter who does the killing, as long as it occurred during the felony. InMassachusettshowever, the death of an innocent person must have been caused by the felon or his co-felon. Therefore, underMassachusettslaw, the felons in the bank robbery example would not be charged with felony murder of the bank teller.

Felony murder is an important distinction from other more common murder charges. This law not only punishes those who cause an innocent person’s death, but also serves as a deterrent against committing dangerous felonies.

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