When someone claims that an event was a “crime of passion”, they are saying that they reacted emotionally. They weren’t thinking about what they were doing because they were overcome by these emotions.
For example, someone gets home a day early from a business trip and finds their spouse engaged in an extramarital affair. They attack the other person, who fights back and is killed in the altercation. The person who does it claims that it was a crime of passion.
But making this claim is also an admission of guilt. That person isn’t trying to defend their innocence. They are deliberately saying that they are guilty of the crime and then explaining why they committed that crime. So why would they actually use this defense and are there any benefits?
It can be helpful in first-degree murder cases
A crime of passion defense is generally used when there isn’t any question about what happened or who was responsible. It isn’t about trying to show that someone is innocent. The person who came home from the business trip, in the hypothetical example above, isn’t claiming that someone else committed the crime or that they were uninvolved.
Instead, this defense demonstrates how the event occurred. After all, in many first-degree murder cases, it has to be premeditated. The person has to intend to take the other individual’s life. Since intent is a qualification for the highest level of murder charges, claiming that something was a crime of passion – and there was no premeditation or prior intent – could be a tactic to seek a lesser sentence or a lower charge.
Criminal defense can certainly be complicated in cases like this. Those facing serious allegations must know about their legal options.