Kidnapper Killed by Father of Children and Pennsylvania's Heat of Passion Defense

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jul 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

An attempted kidnapping in Philadelphia led to a string of events that perfectly illustrates one of the defenses to a serious violent crime: that the defendant acted in the “heat of passion.”

Kidnapping Thwarted by Parents, Suspect Killed

On the night of July 11, a mother pulled into the parking lot of a pizza restaurant to talk to her boyfriend. She left the car running with three children inside, aged between seven months old and five years old. The boyfriend was the father of two of the children.

While she was inside, a man jumped into the vehicle and took off. However, he didn't get very far – traffic at the intersection was heavy and he had to stop.

The boyfriend from the pizza parlor caught up to the car, pulled the car thief out of the vehicle, and began beating him. Other bystanders, hearing what was happening, also joined in.

By the time police responded to the scene, the attempted kidnapper was unconscious with severe injuries to his head and face. He was brought to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

None of the children were hurt. Both parents were brought in for questioning but no charges have been filed against them yet.

Violent Crimes and the Heat of Passion Defense in Pennsylvania

If you ignore the circumstances of the situation, the boyfriend and the bystanders who participated in the attack would likely face murder charges for intentionally killing the man.

However, one of the defenses to a violent crime like this is the “heat of passion” defense. This defense argues that, while the violent crime did happen, the defendant is not as culpable because they were acting in the heat of passion.

It is up to the defendant in a criminal case to prove that they were acting in the heat of passion when they hurt someone. Proving the defense requires showing that the defendant was reacting to a provocation that would have excited an unrestrainable passion in a normal person, this passion caused the reaction that hurt the victim, and there was no time for the defendant to calm down.

The classic example of a heat of passion defense in action is when a man finds his wife in bed with someone else, flies into a rage, and seriously hurts or kills someone.

This case, where parents pursued and caught the man trying to kidnap their children, could very easily lead to a heat of passion defense.

However, any bystanders who contributed to the kidnapper's killing would likely not be able to invoke the heat of passion defense because it was not their children involved.

Criminal Defense in Philadelphia: Joseph D. Lento

As we'll discuss in our next blog post, claiming that you acted in the heat of passion is a risky defense because it does not lead to an acquittal – it merely reduces the sentence or the severity of the crime.

Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia who knows when to use the heat of passion defense and when not to. Contact him online or call his law office at (215) 535-5353.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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