The “crime of passion” defense is one that is sometimes used after a violent crime. It is most often seen in situations in which one person has lost their life and the other person is being accused of murder. They will claim that they committed a crime of passion.
Essentially, what this means is that they reacted emotionally to something unexpected. A common example would be if a person discovered their partner having an affair when they arrived home at the end of the day. They reacted instinctively and attacked the other individual.
But why would someone want to use this defense? By claiming that something was a crime of passion, they are also admitting to having done it. Why would that be a viable defense tactic? Isn’t it just an admission of guilt?
Seeking lesser charges
This defense is often used in situations in which the person’s responsibility is not in question. It is well known that they did commit a crime or take that other individual’s life. They are not claiming they didn’t do it, but they are claiming that their passion in that moment was the reason for it.
This is important because it shows that there was no premeditation. There was no intent. With murder charges, it often has to be shown that the person orchestrated a plan and then enacted it. If they didn’t intentionally set out to take that person’s life, then they may end up being charged with something like manslaughter or another charge that is lower than first-degree murder.
You can imagine how complex a case like this can become, so all involved need to be sure they understand their legal options.