Felony murder has for years plagued defense attorneys and their clients by charging those who did not commit any murder at all with first-degree murder. States that have felony murder laws routinely charge defendants with murder who never fired a gun, drew a knife, or harmed anyone. In some cases, defendants are charged with murders when cohorts are shot in the back by police officers when they are fleeing the scene of a crime.
In some cases, it does make sense to charge a defendant with felony murder under the law. For instance, let us say one man goes to another man’s house to confront him concerning some dispute between the two. The man brings a gun to the other man’s house and, when the dispute turns violent, he shoots the other man. While in most cases, this may be an instance of self-defense, it makes sense to charge the man with felony murder because the man went there with the intent to confront and knowingly did so with a loaded gun. Death was a likely outcome of that move.
A case involving a man who masterminded a plot to rob another man made news recently. The victim was killed in the robbery attempt, though the intent was not to kill the man. The mastermind of the plot was charged with felony murder even though he was not at the scene when it took place.
Many feel that this man should be held responsible for the murder of the victim and there is a certain kind of sense to that. But sometimes, felony murder is employed in ways that do not make a lot of sense.
A defendant can be charged with felony murder if someone is killed in the commission of a felony. In states like Georgia, it is a popular tactic of the prosecution to charge defendants with murder if one in a group of defendants is shot and killed by a police officer while attempting to flee the scene of a crime. These individuals may not have a gun on them or any intent to kill or harm anyone. They are simply running away from the police. It is instances like these, in which the prosecution tries (and often convicts) defendants under a bad law, that have made felony unpopular in states like Ohio.
The VanNoy Firm has experience in criminal defense cases providing each of our clients with representation tailored to their individual needs. If you have been charged with a crime, give us a call or talk to us online and we can begin discussing your options today.
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