Heat of Passion

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Related to Heat of Passion: Involuntary manslaughter

Heat of Passion

A phrase used in Criminal Law to describe an intensely emotional state of mind induced by a type of provocation that would cause a reasonable person to act on impulse or without reflection.

A finding that a person who killed another acted in the heat of passion will reduce murder to Manslaughter under certain circumstances. The essential prerequisites for such a reduction are that the accused must be provoked to a point of great anger or rage, such that the person loses his or her normal capacity for self-control; the circumstances must be such that a reasonable person, faced with the same degree of provocation, would react in a similar manner; and finally, there must not have been an opportunity for the accused to have "cooled off" or regained self-control during the period between the provocation and the killing.

The Rule of Law that adequate provocation may reduce murder to manslaughter was developed by the English courts. It was a means of avoiding the severity of the death penalty, a fixed punishment for murder under the Common Law, when the act of killing was caused by natural human weakness.

The type of provocation considered serious enough to induce a heat of passion offense varies slightly from one jurisdiction to another, although the usual test is reasonableness. Depending upon the circumstances, assault, Battery, Adultery, and illegal arrest are illustrative of what may be held to be sufficient provocation.

In almost all cases, the reasonableness of a provocation is a decision made by a jury.

heat of passion

n. in a criminal case, when the accused was in an uncontrollable rage at the time of commission of the alleged crime. If so, it may reduce the charge, indictment or judgment down from murder to manslaughter, since the passion precluded the defendant having premeditation or being fully mentally capable of knowing what he/she was doing. (See: murder, manslaughter)

References in periodicals archive ?
If you have a reasonable doubt about whether the defendant acted with a premeditated design to kill because [he] [she] acted in the heat of passion based on adequate provocation, you should not find [him] [her] guilty of Attempted First Degree Murder.
If the heat of passion were inordinately strong, the spirits bypassed the brain altogether and moved directly to the penis, causing it to stiffen spontaneously.
On the date of occurrence, finding his wife to be in an inebriated condition, he got infuriated and in the heat of passion, assaulted her with the wooden handle of the axe.
critical mechanism of the heat of passion defense is disruptive emotion.
Moreover, even historical arguments against placing the burden of proving heat of passion on defendants concede that the defense could be abolished completely without violating the United States Constitution.
Further, it is worth remembering that not every murder is committed in the heat of passion.
And my advice is to always talk about protected sex before you are in the heat of passion.
The court only sentences this man to one year in prison because his murder "was done in the heat of passion, under circumstances of great provocation" (309; emphasis mine).
Noting Yokota has spent most of his adulthood in prison following an unfortunate childhood, Wakahara said he committed the crime in the heat of passion as a result of an argument with the victim.
TWO Scorpios together will certainly feel the heat of passion.
I asked one of my mentors why our country had heat of passion crimes and why people should not be held fully responsible for their intended actions.
In what he considers the heat of passion, he may disregard a woman's signals of unwillingness, misinterpret her resistance as playfulness, or decide that she has no right to refuse him.