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
- 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.