Crimes of Passion: How PA Laws Treat Homicide When Emotions Are Provoked

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Sep 02, 2021 | 0 Comments

Domestic violence is a traumatic event. It is particularly devastating when the violence results from a crime of passion because the accused, overcome by emotional crisis, can be incapable of rational thought in the heat of the moment. Consider a recently reported story, where a man from Mercer, PA, strangled his wife after learning she was having an affair during an argument between the two. The pair had only been married for a few months and the revelation tragically resulted in the wife's death and the man's arrest.

What is a Crime of Passion?

A crime of passion occurs when an otherwise reasonable person is provoked into a severely emotional reaction. These crimes are committed without premeditation or malice aforethought. Additionally, crimes of passion are committed against the person who elicited the emotional reaction.

When a death occurs due to an emotional outburst, it's critically important that the accused seek a competent defense attorney who understands how to demonstrate that a crime of passion, rather than criminal homicide or murder, occurred.

In Pennsylvania, there are varying degrees of severity for the crime of taking another person's life. From most serious to least serious, those more commonly charged include:

  • Criminal homicide
  • Murder
  • Voluntary Manslaughter
  • Involuntary Manslaughter

When a life is taken due to a crime of passion, the appropriate charge is voluntary manslaughter. Title 18 § 2503 defines voluntary manslaughter as:

"[a] person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the individual killed.”

Significantly, someone may also be charged with voluntary manslaughter when they inadvertently kill an individual who didn't provoke them emotionally. For example, if a spouse learned of infidelity and, in the heat of the moment, intended to take the life of their partner but instead fatally injured an innocent bystander, then a voluntary manslaughter charge would still be applicable.

Hire a PA Crime of Passion Defense Attorney

Voluntary manslaughter is a severe charge and can carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison or more in some instances. If you've been accused of a crime of passion, you need to contact an experienced Pennsylvania defense attorney right away. While there are defenses to voluntary manslaughter that may fit the facts of your case, those who've been charged with a crime of passion often carry significant guilt and aren't able to see defense options available to them without legal guidance.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his highly-experienced team understand what's at stake and how traumatic a crime of passion charge is for an individual. Attorney Lento is a tireless advocate for his clients and aggressively asserts every defense available. If you or your loved one has been accused of a crime of passion, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 right away.

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!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!


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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.