Felony Murder: A Historical Perspective by Which to Understand Today's Modern Felony Murder Rule Statutes

Thurgood Marshall Law Review, Vol. 30, 2006

26 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2014

See all articles by Leonard Birdsong

Leonard Birdsong

Barry University - Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

The law of felony murder varies from state to state and deterrence is often cited as a justification for the doctrine. The doctrine persists because our legal notion of punishment requires proportionality, and proportionality requires grading. Therefore, felony murder draws a higher punishment for a killing that takes place during the commission of an unlawful act.

This article examines the development of the felony murder rule in the United States and explores its historic origins and its development in a number of U.S. jurisdictions. Part II of this article provides a history of the felony murder doctrine in England. Part III examines how the doctrine came to the United States and has been utilized in more expansive ways than envisioned in England. The article concludes by comparing a representative sample of modem day American felony murder statutes against the historical felony murder doctrine formulated by the early English commentators.

Keywords: felony murder doctrine, deterrence, history of the felony murder doctrine

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Birdsong, Leonard, Felony Murder: A Historical Perspective by Which to Understand Today's Modern Felony Murder Rule Statutes (2006). Thurgood Marshall Law Review, Vol. 30, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535539

Leonard Birdsong (Contact Author)

Barry University - Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law ( email )

6441 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32807
United States

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