A crime of passion is something that happens in the heat of the moment. It is an emotional outburst. In this sense, it is not something that the person who committed the crime ever expected to happen. They just reacted in the moment and ended up breaking the law.
A very common example of this is if someone is accused of assault or even homicide if they find their partner at home having an affair. Say that they come home early from work and discover the extramarital affair in progress. They may just react emotionally and without thinking about the ramifications of their actions.
Why is this a defense?
If you find yourself in this position, using the crime of passion defense does mean admitting that the event occurred. This is different from claiming that you were not part of that criminal event and that you are entirely innocent. You do have to admit that you did it, so why would you ever use this defense?
The reason is that it removes the element of intent. This could be very important if you’ve been accused of first-degree murder, for example. If it was a crime of passion, that means that it was not planned in advance and it was not premeditated. There was no intent to take someone else’s life, and deliberate steps were not taken to do so.
That doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t face homicide charges, but you could avoid some of the most serious sentences by using this defense. It could be the difference between first-degree murder – intentional and premeditated – and a lesser murder charge.
Criminal defense cases can get very complex, and they often go far beyond pleading guilty or not guilty. It’s important for those involved to understand their legal options.