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.
The partial defense of provocation provides that a person who kills another in the heat of passion brought on by legally adequate provocation is guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.
Being charged with murder, the husband had argued before the apex court that his offence must be classified under an 'exception' to murder since the act was in the heat of passion.
The court rejected arguments that Bridgeman was only guilty of manslaughter because he acted in the heat of passion when he shot the 33-year-old on June 24, 2006.
Defense attorney Phil Zalewski argued that the fatal stabbings occurred in the heat of passion, which could have reduced the crime from murder to voluntary manslaughter.
Defense attorney Willoughby said his client, in the heat of passion, accidentally shifted into drive instead of reverse -- and said her daughters could back up that claim.
I do carry condoms but, sometimes, in the heat of passion, he won't bother and I let him go ahead without.
I especially wanted to point out how amazingly well Heath managed to pass the heat of passion and love on to the viewers so that I really felt like I had gone through the same feelings and experiences as the characters did in the movie.
Women, you've thrown caution to the wind in the heat of passion and gave in to an obstinate partner's reluctance to wear a condom.
Further, it is worth remembering that not every murder is committed in the heat of passion.