When considering homicide charges, there are many variations depending on how things played out. For instance, manslaughter charges may be used for accidentally causing a death, whereas first-degree murder charges typically require the intent to commit murder before doing so.
One of these classifications is known as “felony murder.” How do these charges come about?
Murder, of course, is already a felony and a very serious crime. The term felony murder does not refer to that, but rather to the act of committing a felony that then leads to someone’s death, even if that death was not your intent. Examples of crimes that may lead to these charges if someone passes away include:
- Sexual abuse or rape
- Some types of burglary
For instance, a person may decide to commit arson to get back at a neighbor during a dispute. They wait until the neighbor goes away on vacation, then light their house on fire. What they did not know is that the neighbor had left their dog at home and so they had asked a friend to come watch the pet and the house. That person was asleep in the house when the fire started, and they passed away.
Clearly, the arsonist had no intent to take that person’s life. They didn’t even know them. They clearly tried to avoid times when people were home. However, since arson is a felony and the person died as a result of that crime, they could also face felony murder charges.
Those facing serious charges with life-altering ramifications must know about all of the legal options they have. Consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.