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What is a felony murder?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Murder itself is, of course, a felony. There are different levels of murder, such as first-degree murder versus second-degree murder. There are also issues where someone was merely negligent and may have committed manslaughter – an accidental event. 

But there’s also something often referred to as “felony murder.” This is different than other types of murder in one key way, so it’s important to know how it works if you’re facing these charges.

Someone passes away during the commission of a felony

Essentially, a “felony murder” is one in which a different felony is being committed. That felony could be arson or theft, for instance. It could also be a drug sale.

Regardless of the other felony’s specifics, during the commission of that felony, someone passes away. The person who was responsible may not have intended to cause that other person’s death, but they could still be charged with murder on the grounds that they were committing a felony when it happened.

For example, consider arson. Perhaps two neighbors are in a dispute, and one neighbor sets fire to the other person’s property while that person is away on vacation. They don’t intend to hurt anyone, but what they don’t know is that their neighbor’s adult child is watching the house while they’re gone. That person is inadvertently killed as a result of the arson. This is much different than a premeditated murder, but it could still be a murder charge. Another example could be if a shopkeeper suffered a fatal heart attack during a robbery at gunpoint.

If you find yourself in a situation like this, the ramifications can be quite serious. You must know about all of the criminal defense options at your disposal.


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