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Why is a “crime of passion” a defense? 

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2023 | Violent crimes

A crime of passion is when something happens in the heat of the moment. For example, a person decides to leave work early to surprise their spouse, who they know is at home. When they get home, they are shocked to discover that their spouse is having an affair. An altercation takes place between the three people and the subject of that affair is killed.

When people consider this defense, though, they may wonder why they would want to use it. After all, you cannot claim something was a crime of passion if you are also maintaining your own innocence. Saying it was a crime of passion is also admitting that you did what you are accused of having done. So why would this be a good defense tactic?

It may avoid more serious charges

The reason that people use a crime of passion as a defense is that it shows they didn’t have any intent. There was no pre-meditation, and they never thought about this before. They had probably never even met the other person, and may not have known that person existed. They did not go home intending to take a life.

This is important because intent is a critical part of murder charges. To be accused of first-degree murder means that there was at least some element of premeditation where this was a planned event that you carried out. A crime of passion was simply a reaction, so it is not first-degree murder.

Cases like this do get very complicated. Take the time to look at all of your legal options and make sure you know what steps to take.