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
Date Written: 2006
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: Suggested Citation
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By Will Tress