Heat of Passion

(redirected from heat)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Heat is but the motion of atoms, a simple oscillation of the particles of a body.
Chief Inspector Heat had had a disagreeably busy day since his department received the first telegram from Greenwich a little before eleven in the morning.
"You all know, gentlemen, what a calorifere, to heat apartments, is.
I used to lie in my bed by the open window, watching the heat lightning play softly along the horizon, or looking up at the gaunt frame of the windmill against the blue night sky.
But as soon as two drops of blood have thus passed, one into each of the cavities, these drops which cannot but be very large, because the orifices through which they pass are wide, and the vessels from which they come full of blood, are immediately rarefied, and dilated by the heat they meet with.
"Well, my friend, this earth will one day be that cold corpse; it will become uninhabitable and uninhabited like the moon, which has long since lost all its vital heat."
It was sweeping round swiftly and steadily, this flaming death, this invisible, inevitable sword of heat. I perceived it coming towards me by the flashing bushes it touched, and was too astounded and stupefied to stir.
That fatal moment seemed now to have arrived, for the hissing steams of the spring appeared to be nearly exhausted, and the moss of the rocks was already curling under the intense heat, while fragments of bark, that yet clung to the dead trees, began to separate from their trunks, and fall to the ground in crumbling masses.
"Very good, electricity and heat are the same thing; but is it possible to substitute the one quantity for the other in the equation for the solution of any problem?
It would make the reader pity me, or rather laugh at me, to tell how many awkward ways I took to raise this paste; what odd, misshapen, ugly things I made; how many of them fell in and how many fell out, the clay not being stiff enough to bear its own weight; how many cracked by the over-violent heat of the sun, being set out too hastily; and how many fell in pieces with only removing, as well before as after they were dried; and, in a word, how, after having laboured hard to find the clay - to dig it, to temper it, to bring it home, and work it - I could not make above two large earthen ugly things (I cannot call them jars) in about two months' labour.
While groping over the successive panels with the greatest care, I endeavored not to lose a minute, for I was feeling more and more overcome with the heat and we were literally roasting in that blazing forest.
Tom and his friends were hungry in spite of the heat. Moreover, they were experienced travelers and had learned not to fret over inconveniences and discomforts.