Since both old Section 25 and current Section 192 embody the unlawful act manslaughter rule, the key difference between the two is that Section 25 defined as murder a homicide that "is committed in the prosecution of a felonious intent...." As the California Supreme Court underscored in Chun, the most plausible construction of the language is that the legislature that enacted the 1850 code intended to include the felony murder doctrine. (125) The problem, however, is that the legislature that enacted the 1872 code omitted this language from Section 192 and failed to include it in the provisions defining murder (Sections 187 and 188).
If the judge merely instructed the jurors to convict the accused of murder only if they found, among other matters, his reckless state of mind beyond a reasonable doubt, the conviction would not rest on the felony murder doctrine.
(164) In Chun, the California Supreme Court took advantage of the vagueness of a term ("abandoned and malignant heart") to infuse it with the second degree felony murder doctrine. In Dillon, the Court disregarded the plain meaning of an unambiguous term ("murder") to give it a meaning that not only contravenes its own rules of statutory construction but is based on an admittedly "shaky" historical foundation.
The Court has acknowledged "that the felony murder doctrine expresses a highly artificial concept that deserves no extension beyond its required application" and that the rule "has been subjected to severe and sweeping criticism." (199) The Court is also aware that "in almost all cases in which [the rule] is applied it is unnecessary and that it erodes the relation between criminal liability and moral culpability." (200)
rationales for and against the felony murder doctrine, including the
a great deal depends upon which version of the felony murder doctrine
argument depends on precisely which kind of felony murder doctrine is
felony murder doctrine results in convictions unrelated to individual