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Friday, June 13, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Justifiable Homicide

     There is no crime called "homicide." It is simply an umbrella term that includes various types of lawful homicide [executions, valid police involved shootings, and self defense) as well as unlawful homicide (involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, felony murder, second-degree murder, and first-degree murder]. The categories of lawful homicide are awfully narrow. One of them is justifiable homicide, which applies mainly to self-defense but can also apply to the defense of one's home from intruders. The latter is known as the castle defense….In such cases, the killing is intentional but "justified" by the circumstances.

     When the act of killing is truly unintentional [as opposed to reckless] the law calls this excusable homicide. Despite the name, it is not enough to say "excuse me" to the victim in order to fit into this category. Rather, the defendant must show that the killing was accidental; for example, when a driver hits a pedestrian who ran into the street without warning. [If a drunken driver accidentally runs over someone, that might constitute involuntary manslaughter.]

Adam Freedman, The Party of the First Part, 2007

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