Justifiable Homicides Counted as Murder Under Felony Murder Rule

Justifiable Homicides Counted as Murder Under Felony Murder Rule

Dean Weingarten

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- The Felony Murder Rule is a law where a person who is involved in a felony can be charged with murder if someone dies as a result of the felony. 

From justia.com:

The felony murder rule is a rule that allows a defendant to be charged with first-degree murder for a killing that occurs during a dangerous felony, even if the defendant is not the killer. The felony murder rule applies only to those crimes that are considered “inherently dangerous,” as the rationale underlying the felony murder rule is that certain crimes are so dangerous that society wants to deter individuals from engaging in them altogether. Thus, when a person participates in an inherently dangerous crime, he or she may be held responsible for the fatal consequences of that crime, even if someone else caused the actual death.

The felony murder rule is often applied when an armed victim kills one of the criminal suspects attempting to victimize them. If there is a surviving accomplice, the accomplice may be charged under the felony murder rule.

Only four states do not have the felony murder rule in some form. Hawaii, Delaware, Kentucky, and Michigan have no felony murder rule.  They eliminated the rule between 1973 and 1980 as part of capital punishment reform.

If someone is charged with murder under the felony murder rule, the homicide will be coded as a murder in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, not as a justified homicide. Examples of this practice are easily found online.

From amarillo.com:

Amarillo Police Department has identified the man shot at La Bella Pizza on Olsen Boulevard as Clayton Jerrell Morgan, according to a news release. Officers arrested his alleged accomplice, 29-year-old Ruben Ryel Rios, who police said was charged under the state’s felony murder rule that allows a person to be charged with murder if they are involved in a felony crime that causes a death.

From wbay.com:

An 18-year-old Appleton man was shot and killed by the target of a robbery at an apartment in Oshkosh, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News.

Tory Summers, 28, has been charged with Felony Murder in connection to the death of Cashmiere A.S. Hill. Summers is also charged with Armed Robbery and Burglary.

The FBI Uniform Crime Reports only catch about 20 percent of justified homicides in the United States. The felony murder rule is one of the reasons why the numbers are so low. How many of the murders in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) are from the Felony Murder Rule? In research published in 2002, the number of cases under the Felony Murder Rule were found to be substantial.

From virginia.edu:

Although nearly 20 percent of all murders annually are felony murders, no one has empirically validated the effects of the rule. This paper attempts to fill this hole using state-level data on felonies and felony homicides from 1970-98.

20 percent over a sample of 28 years is a a significant number. How many of those were justified killing which became murders under the Felony Murder Rule? We do not know. The FBI does not have a separate category for Felony Murder Rule homicides.

Justified Homicides are counted by the FBI under a very restrictive definition.

For private persons, there were 331 justified homicides recorded by the FBI UCR in 2016  The FBI UCR estimated the number of murders to be 17,250 for the same year.

Justified Homicides, other than by law enforcement officers, were 1.9 percent of all homicides recorded by the FBI in the UCR. Surveys indicate these are only one fifth of the actual justified homicides. The real number of justified homicides is close to 10% of all homicides.

Felony Murder Rule homicides may be close to 20 percent of all murders in the United States. There is plenty of room for significant numbers of felony murders recorded by the FBI to be justifiable homicides. Those homicides inflate the United States murder rate and decrease the “official' number of justified homicides in the United States.

England eliminated the Felony Murder Rule in 1957.

2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Rokflyer
Rokflyer
2 years ago

Yes this is a great law for situations like what recently happened in California. Where an illegal immigrant picked up a stolen firearm on the wharf and it magically went off and a young woman was murdered in front of her father. And then he was charged with the felony murder law in her death, because he was illegal and the gun had been stolen from a customs agent previously. So even though he didn’t intend ( per him ) to murder her he did anyway. He was convicted and sent to prison for life……..But it didn’t happen that way… Read more »

Brian
Brian
2 years ago

The Felony Murder Rule is a good law. It needs to be used more. If I have to use my firearm to protect my life then I don’t give a rats ass how it is recorded in some pinhead, pencil pushers database. As far as I’m concerned the parents of the murderer and the murderer’s accomplices should also be charge with murder if they knew their kids where up to no good and did not report it, or failed to teach their children how to be good citizens instead of evil thugs. The real problem is that we don’t use… Read more »

Joe
Joe
2 years ago

Let me see if I have this right. A man breaks into my home with a gun. He has a lookout standing at the curb. I shoot the burglar because I fear for my life. My shooting is ruled “justifiable” and I am not charged. My state has a felony murder rule so the lookout is charged with murder because he was a participant in the felony crime of armed robbery in which someone died. His conviction as a murderer goes into the statistics as a murder and inflates the murder statics even though he never touched the gun or… Read more »

Lava
Lava
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe

If I understand it, the justifiable homicide will not go into the statistics at all, the murder will. The justifiable homicide will be moved to the unjustifiable part of the graph. This is still enough to skew the statistics.

MontieR
MontieR
2 years ago

As per 8 U.S. Code § 1324 harboring an illegal alien is a FEDERAL felony. With the felony murder rule San Fran scicos perveted mayor supporting and abetting illegal alins should be charged and incarcerated for Kate Steinlys murder. OH damn thats right it’s NOT muder if an illegal alien kills someone.

Keith Langer
Keith Langer
2 years ago

Hardly news or a conspiracy to rig statistics. Planning a home invasion, bank robbery, or kidnapping? Take the rap for the obvious foreseeable consequences of your actions – that includes your intended victim, or one of your merry band getting killed. As a homicide occurring during a felony, it IS exactly as advertised: Felony murder.

Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,.

James E Riffe
James E Riffe
2 years ago

From what I’ve read about this law they can charge you for what the criminals do because you shoot one? Please explain this law it seems like you can apply this law to any thing having to do with self defense.

JDShotgun
JDShotgun
2 years ago
Reply to  James E Riffe

The way I understand it, if two armed, violent guys come at you and you kill one, the other one gets charged with murder because someone died during the crime. Perp #1’s death gets misreported as a murder instead of justifiable homicide (self defense) since his accomplice got charged with murder. This misreporting causes numbers of justifiable homicides to be artificially low, which anti-gunners use as a statistic to say that cases of self defense with a gun are so rare that it doesn’t justify the “threat” posed by having so many citizens walking around carrying guns.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
2 years ago
Reply to  James E Riffe

ER, The FMR can only be applied to the persons committing the felony.

Cecil
Cecil
2 years ago

So another case of figures don’t lie, but liars figure. I expect that most of this is an unintentional categorization. But it would be good to let politicians know about ‘hidden’ facts.