Abolish the Felony Murder Rule in America!!
This petition had 531 supporters
Abolish the Felony Murder Rule in the USA
Thousands of people are growing old in prisons for crimes they did not commit! Some are even doing life... for murders they did not commit. This Law charges anyone involved in a felony in which a person is killed.
(720 ILCS 5/9-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 9-1)
Sec. 9-1. First degree Murder
(a) A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits first degree murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death:
(1) he either intends to kill or do great bodily harm to that individual or another, or knows that such acts will cause death to that individual or another; or
(2) he knows that such acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to that individual or another; or
(3) he is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder.
First degree murder holds a mandatory sentence of 20-60 years in IL
You do not have to be found guilty of the underlying felonies, you have to have been in the "commission of"... which means; attempting to, and even fleeing from.
Many states have amended the felony murder rule, some have abolished it all together. Some states have what is called agency theory; which states that a felon can't be found guilty for the death of a co-felon only the death of an innocent party.
Illinois follows the proximate cause theory of felony murder. Under this theory, there is no requirement that a defendant be the person who both attempts or commits the felony and who performs the act that kills the victim.
From JUSTICE McMORROW,
"The majority provides no explanation for how the purpose of the felony-murder doctrine is served by applying it in cases such as this. Rather, the majority’s holding is simply that the proximate cause theory ‘compels’ this result. I disagree with this conclusion. Where a co felon is killed by a third party, the most direct cause of the death is the co felon's participation in the felony, not the defendant’s acts. Contrary to the majority’s characterization, this distinction does not go to the ‘guilt or innocence’ of the decedent. Rather, this distinction pertains to the ‘proximate cause’ of the death. Significantly, we are not here considering an issue of tort liability, but an issue of imposing criminal liability for first degree murder with the severe consequences that entails. In my view, the distinction between a third party killing an innocent party and a third party killing a participant in the felony must be accorded weight. It is illogical to conclude that the same degree of guilt should attach where a defendant's felony results in the death of an innocent party and where it results in the death of an active participant in the felony.”
two people decide to rob a store, store owner kills one... other one charged with murder.
one man gives his friend a ride, friend decides to rob someone and is killed in the process... friend in car is charged with murder.
two men attempting to rob, police apprehend one... he's in the back of police car. Police pursue other and end up shooting him, his friend in the back of the car... charged with murder.
There are SO MANY ... thousands more, these are just a few.
PLEASE HELP ME AMEND THIS LAW BY SIGNING THIS PETITION!
ALL STATES THAT STILL HAVE FELONY MURDER LAW SHOULD BE AMENDED AT THE VERY LEAST TO THE "AGENCY THEORY"
How can one be charged with the actions of another?
OR ABOLISHED ALL TOGETHER!
Americans should not be charged with murder unless they've committed a murder!!
The rule is unjust because it requires no intent to kill!
The Felony Murder Rule originated in England, it's purpose was to deter people from committing crimes with other people. It doesn't work!! In fact England abolished it decades ago! "In Canada, it has been held to be unconstitutional, as breaching the principles of fundamental justice."
Imagine for a moment one of your children, decides to take a ride with some kids... ONE of them does something stupid and now your child is facing the rest of his life in prison.
If a person does fear for his life, or uses deadly force to stop a felony from occurring... how can a shooting that would normally be called justifiable, end in a murder charge? They charge people with murder that were justified shootings by the police. It doesn't make sense that a killing could be legal and illegal at the same time!
It would make more sense to give harsher sentences for the crimes that are committed, not a crime that wasn't. How can a law act as a deterrent if people in this country do not even understand it or how it works? It simply can’t. I am asking for fair justice. Smart justice. The felony murder rule is neither.
"It is wrong to accuse and convict someone for a crime they NEVER committed, it is wrong to accuse and convict someone for murder when they never intended to murder anyone."
Illinois' felony murder rule is among the broadest in the nation, it is out of step with modern criminal and sentencing codes! The answer is not to charge someone who did not commit a murder and to punish them equally with those that do! The time should fit the crime!
First-Degree Murder - A premeditated (planned) killing accompanied by the intent to kill, malice aforethought (planning to kill a particular victim or anyone who might try to prevent such a killing).
Second-Degree Murder - A non-premeditated killing resulting from an assault in which death is probable or highly likely.
Voluntary Manslaughter - Killing in the heat of passion or while committing a felony.
Involuntary Manslaughter - Death which occurs accidentally or in violation of a non-felony, such as reckless driving.
Homicide - The killing of a human being due to the act or omission of another. Non-criminal homicides include killing in self-defense, accidents, such as a hunting accident, or a traffic accident where there is no violation of the law, such as reckless driving. Intent is the criterion, which elevates a homicide, which may be innocent or criminal, to murder.
Felony Murder Rule - allows a defendant to be charged with first-degree murder for a killing that occurs during a felony, even if the defendant is not the killer.
The felony murder rule is an exception to the normal rules of homicide. Normally, a defendant can be convicted of murder only if a prosecutor shows that the defendant acted with the intent to kill or with a reckless indifference to human life. Under the felony murder rule, however, a defendant can be convicted of murder even if the defendant did not act with intent or a reckless indifference; the prosecution must show only that the defendant participated in a felony where fatalities occurred.
What is Wrong With The Felony Murder Rule:
From Change.org: Abolish the Felony Murder Rule Worldwide. by Themis Papaioannou Shoreham
⦁ The felony murder rule relieves the prosecution of its burden of proving intent to kill, which is a necessary element of murder.
⦁ The felony murder rule removes the relation between criminal liability and moral culpability in that it punishes all homicides in the commission, or attempted commission, of felonies, whether intentional, unintentional, or accidental, without proving the relation between the homicide and the perpetrator's state of mind.
⦁ The intention to commit a felony does not equal the intention to kill, nor is the intention to commit a felony, by itself, sufficient to establish a charge of murder.
⦁ Under the felony murder rule, the defendant's state of mind is irrelevant. Because intent is a characterization of a particular state of mind with respect to a killing, felony murder bears little resemblance to the offense of murder except in name.
⦁ Holding one or many criminally liable for the bad results of an act which differs greatly from the intended results is based on a concept of culpability which is totally at odds with the general principles of jurisprudence.
⦁ It is fundamentally unfair and in violation of basic principles of individual criminal culpability to hold one felon liable for the unforeseen and un-agreed to results of another felon's action.
⦁ The basic rule of culpability is further violated when felony murder is categorized as first-degree murder because all other first-degree murders (carrying equal punishment) require a showing of premeditation, deliberation and willfulness, while felony murder only requires a showing of intent to do the underlying felony.
⦁ The purpose of creating degrees of murder is to punish with increased severity the more culpable forms of murder, but an accidental killing during the commission or attempted commission of a felony is punished more severely than a second-degree murder.
⦁ While the felony murder rule survives in some states, the numerous modifications and restrictions of it by some states' courts and legislatures throughout the United States reflect dissatisfaction with the basic harshness and injustice of the doctrine and call into question its continued existence.
⦁ The felony murder rule can be used by prosecutors in a manner so as to cause grossly disproportionate sentencing, depending on the circumstances of each individual case.
⦁ The felony murder rule is unconstitutional because presumption of innocence is thrown to the winds. The prosecution needs only to prove intent to commit the underlying felony; that done, first degree-murder becomes part of the underlying felony because intent to commit murder does not have to be proved.
(a) The felony murder rule is unconstitutional because in some cases it violates the Eighth Amendment: cruel and unusual punishment, grossly disproportionate to the crime(s) actually committed.
(b) The felony murder rule holds unequally involved parties equally accountable and punishable. Again, cruel and unusual punishment if you're only the lookout for a robber who happens to kill in the process of the robbery.
⦁ The felony murder rule violates the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process because no defense is allowed on the charge of first-degree murder, only the underlying felony.
⦁ The felony murder rule bears no rational relationship or equity in its two penalties, with the penalties of other murder laws, including, at times, the charge of first-degree murder.
⦁ It is no longer acceptable to equate the intent to commit a felony with the intent to kill."
This is an unjust law in the USA!!
From, Criminal Law Wayne R. LaFave, Austin W. Scott, Jr. Hornbook series:
"Long ago Holmes, in his book "The common Law" discussing the felony murder doctrine, supposed the case of one who, to steal some chickens, shoots at them, accidentally killing a man in the chicken house whose presence could not have been suspected. The fact that the defendant happened to be committing a felony when he shot is an illogical thing to fasten onto to make the accidental killing a murder, for the fact that the shooting is felonious does not increase the likelihood of killing people. "If the object of the (felony murder) rule is to prevent such accidents, it should make accidental killing with firearms murder, not accidental killing in the effort to steal; while if its object is to prevent stealing, it would do better to hang one thief in every thousand by lot."
"Although the felony murder doctrine is well entrenched in American Law, the future may witness its gradual disappearance from the criminal law scene, as it has disappeared in England, the country which created it."
From, The injustice of the Felony Murder Rule- Columbia Undergraduate Law Review:
"The felony murder rule makes it easy... gives a more sufficient method of plea-bargaining, as mentioned in the Tennessee Supreme Court Case; State v. Anderson. The case asserted that the felony murder rule's purpose was to "give prosecutors flexibility in presenting and obtaining plea deals" The decision reasoned that when faced with the possibility of a first degree murder conviction, criminals are much more likely to admit to their guilt and accept a plea bargain- the court decision states that this outcome facilitates the "prompter imposition of punishment on acknowledged offenders" and helps "conserve scarce judicial resources" However there is little to no evidence of any such increased efficiency within the justice system. In fact, this supposed defense of the rule can easily be turned on its head, to reveal damning legal consequences. Although it is unclear whether or not the threat of a first-degree murder conviction expedites legal processes, one thing is certain: that increased pressure on the defendant makes him or her more vulnerable to proprietorial pressure. Because they know that the risk of a first-degree murder conviction is too high for most defendants to take, prosecutors can set the most abusive plea bargain possible. Defendants are too scared to risk a first-degree murder conviction, plead guilty to a lesser charge even if they aren't guilty of it!
Considered another way, because the plea bargains are so abusive, some felons are irrationally incentivized to risk the first-degree murder conviction. Such was the case with Ryan Holle, who lent his car to his roommate and was convicted of first-degree murder when his roommate used the car to drive to a person's house and kill them. Holle, who had no idea that his roommate was murderous, was technically an accessory to the felony and therefore charged under the felony murder rule. He was offered a 10-year plea bargain but mistakenly assuming the court would uphold his innocence, he rejected it. He is now serving life without parole!"
"Now, in our age of woefully overcrowded jails, skyrocketing recidivism rates, and a criminal justice system seen by much of the public as broken, it is more important than ever for us to carefully consider our laws: to ask ourselves what they stand for and whom they affect. A law that is ineffective, manipulative, and principally unjust has no place in our Penal Code. A law that threatens the very foundation of our legal philosophy -the mens rea requirement- has no right to remain in our legal system. And a law that crudely equates unarmed robbers with premeditating murders, throwing them both into the same, overflowing prison cell, certainly has no role in our criminal justice system."
Please help by signing this petition, Thank you.
mens rea requirement- It is a necessary element of many crimes. The standard common law test of criminal liability is expressed in the Latin phrase actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, i.e. "the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty".
Weak mens rea requirements and felony murder go against the notion of basic principles of criminal law... a person must know that he or she is committed a crime in order to be prosecuted for it.
We as Americans have a right to a fair trial, we have a right against cruel and unusual punishment and we have the right to Just Laws!!
We are to be presumed innocent, until proven guilty!! Unless a person is guilty of 1st degree murder, they should not be convicted of 1st degree murder!!
Do not wait until this affects someone that you love!!
Thomas Jefferson's statement in the Declaration of Independence, "...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...,"
Criminal Law, Wayne R. LaFave Austin W. Scott, Jr. Hornbook series
The injustice of the Felony Murder Rule- Columbia Unergraduate Law Review:
Tribune, Chicago. "Illinois' Felony-murder Law Overreaches."
Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia / LII / Legal
Change.org: Abolish the Felony Murder Rule Worldwide. by Themis Papaioannou Shoreham
JUSTICE McMORROW, illinoiscourts.gov/opinions/supremecourt/2006/june/opinions/html/100257.htm
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