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Crime of Passion Law Pennsylvania

The crime of Passion cases is dealt with under voluntary manslaughter laws in Pennsylvania. Voluntary Manslaughter is a result of either extreme passion or a belief that is beyond reason, according to the Pennsylvania Crime of Passion Law.

What Does Crime of Passion Mean?

A Crime of Passion is an unlawful act that happens due to an intense emotion experienced by the accused at the moment of the crime. The emotion can be either anger or heartbreak. For a crime to be treated as a Crime of Passion, there should not be any premeditation by the accused to commit the murder. The act must have been committed immediately in reaction to a provocation.

There must not have been any time gap between the provocation and the act of murder. In case it is proved that there was time between the provocation and the act, it means that the accused had enough time to cool down and the act then wouldn’t be a Crime of Passion.

Pennsylvania Crime of Passion Law
What is Crime of Passion Law in Pennsylvania?

An act of murder becomes a Crime of Passion under Pennsylvania Law if the accused reacts to a provocation without any deliberate intent to kill. The Crime of Passion Law requires the defense to prove that the situation that served as a provocation for the accused would evoke an intense emotional reaction in any normal individual.

The Crime of Passion Law in Pennsylvania demands meticulous and objective scrutiny of all the events leading to the murder for a charge to qualify as Voluntary Manslaughter.

Crime of Passion Law Pennsylvania

Crime of Passion Law in Pennsylvania is described in Section 2503 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes under the Criminal Homicide chapter.

Defined as Voluntary Manslaughter, this Section states that:

An individual that commits an act of murder that is unlawful by nature is guilty of committing a Voluntary Manslaughter if:

  • The individual commits the action under the influence of intense passion evoked suddenly as a result of a serious provocation from either:
  • The victim; or
  • Another individual whom the accused attempts to kill, but ends up killing the victim either by accident or negligence.

Punishment for Crime of Passion in Pennsylvania

Voluntary Manslaughter is a first-degree felony under Pennsylvania Crime of Passion Law. An individual guilty of the crime can face imprisonment for a maximum period of 20 years.

The punishment varies for individuals that are already guilty of violent offenses.

If an accused who has been convicted for Voluntary Manslaughter has already been convicted for 2 other violent crimes, then the person faces a minimum imprisonment term of 25 years. This term can be increased, according to Pennsylvania Law, to life imprisonment without the option of parole, if the state finds such punishment necessary for the purpose of public safety.

Crime of Passion Law Pennsylvania
Acceptable Defenses for a Charge of Voluntary Manslaughter

An attorney for the accused can plead the following as defenses against the charge of Voluntary Manslaughter on the accused:

  • Self- defense
  • Battered Women’s Syndrome – This is a psychological condition undergone by a woman victim of domestic abuse. The victim starts to believe that she is helpless and that she deserves the abuse. Victims of domestic abuse refuse to report the abuse as a result of this Syndrome.
  • In homicide cases including Voluntary Manslaughter, this Syndrome is considered a potential cause as such victims show a propensity to murder the abusive partner.
  • The individual was engaged in a lawful activity when the act of killing happened by accident. The accused had no criminal intent to kill.

Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for Crime of Passion

Statute of Limitations refers to the time period within which a prosecutor needs to initiate legal proceedings against the accused. Failure to bring about charges formally against the accused can result in making the case null and void.

Murder crimes are serious and therefore do not warrant a Statute of Limitations period. Legal proceedings against an accused charged with Voluntary Manslaughter can be started at any time.

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