Controlling Passion: Adultery and the Provocation Defense

37 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2006

See all articles by Susan D. Rozelle

Susan D. Rozelle

Stetson University College of Law


Adulterous wives, especially those caught in the act, are classically provoking. Conventional wisdom explains that the ordinary, reasonable, otherwise law-abiding person cannot be expected to control himself when faced with an actively faithless spouse - or at least, control becomes so hard to maintain that a defendant who kills under those circumstances may be partially excused. But the conventional wisdom is wrong: most people can control themselves under such circumstances. Instead, provocation is properly grounded in justification, and should be permitted only to those defendants who were legally entitled to use some amount of force when they killed.

Keywords: provocation, mitigation, manslaughter, justification, excuse, purposes of punishment

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Rozelle, Susan D., Controlling Passion: Adultery and the Provocation Defense. Rutgers Law Journal, Vol. 37, p. 197, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Susan D. Rozelle (Contact Author)

Stetson University College of Law ( email )

1401 61st Street South
Gulfport, FL 33707
United States

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