What Exactly Is a "Crime of Passion?"

Many criminal dramas on television use the term “crime of passion” when describing the heinous acts of the alleged suspects. But did you know that this description carries more weight than just theatrical value? In the legal world, a crime of passion is a violent crime that is committed when a person is overcome with emotion and acts in a sudden or impulsive manner. Violent acts that are committed in a fit of rage are committed without any premeditation and are the product of a person’s inability to maintain self-control or during their angered state.

This can be crucial in instances of homicide, as determining whether a person was killed in a crime of passion or in a planned killing can be the difference between a charge of manslaughter or murder. A charge of manslaughter does not require specific intent to kill, while murder does. In the state of Massachusetts, a conviction of first-degree murder can result in life imprisonment, while voluntary manslaughter carries a lesser 20 year prison sentence.

The Elements of a Crime of Passion

While it is ultimately left to the jury to decide whether a crime was committed in a crime of passion or not, these types of crimes generally have the following elements:

  • They involve some sort of reasonable and actual provocation.
  • An ordinarily reasonable person would have experienced the same emotions given the same facts and circumstances.
  • The killer/assaulter was reacted instantaneously and did not have time to “cool off.”

Adequate provocation must involve more than just verbal insults. In addition, if a person had sufficient time to think about their actions and defuse the situation before committing a violent act, they will not be able to have their charges reduced to a less-serious offense.

Charged With a Crime? Call (617) 500-0252 Today

If you are facing criminal charges, it is vital you retain the services of an aggressive defense team to protect your freedom and future. At Brad Bailey Law, our Boston criminal defense lawyers have defended thousands of accused clients and can use their 30+ years of proven legal experience to advocate for a reduction or dismissal of your charges. No matter how serious your situation may be, we are prepared to go the distance in the pursuit of a desirable outcome on your behalf.

Schedule an initial consultation or contact our office online today to get started.


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