The crime of felony murder has always carried some controversy. As we’ve discussed here before, a person can be charged with felony murder if someone died during the commission of a felony — even if the intention of those committing the crime was never to kill anyone. Even someone involved in a felony who didn’t take a life can face felony murder charges.
For example, say two people rob a bank. In the process, a person holding a gun on a teller accidentally shoots and kills them. They can be charged with felony murder even though they didn’t go in with the intent of physically harming anyone. It’s possible that the other person involved in the robbery could face a felony murder charge as well.
Felony murder can carry the same consequences as a first-degree murder charge where someone intended to kill another person. That’s up to a life sentence without the chance for parole.
The legislation has lawmakers and others divided
Now some Maryland state lawmakers have introduced a bill (the Youth Accountability and Safety Act) that would prohibit anyone from facing a felony murder charge if they were under 25 years old at the time the killing occurred. The bill is based on research that has shown that up until their mid-20s, people don’t have a fully developed brain or the ability to foresee the consequences of their actions.
The Youth Accountability and Safety Act has largely divided lawmakers along party lines. Some law enforcement officials have spoken out against it as well, arguing that it’s only going to lead to more violent crime. One Maryland delegate says, “If this bill passes…you’re going to have gangs use juveniles to do their dirty work.”
The bill is still a long way from becoming law – if it ever does. In the meantime, if a loved one (of any age) is facing a felony murder charge, it’s critical to seek legal guidance as soon as possible to protect their rights and their future.