Criminal Law

Extreme Mental or Emotional Disturbance

MPC § 210.3(1)(b)

[Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter when] a homicide which would otherwise be murder is committed under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse. The reasonableness of such explanation or excuse shall be determined from the viewpoint of a person in the actor's situation under the circumstances as he believes them to be.

The concept of EMED is intended to incorporate the two common law doctrines of sudden heat of passion (but greatly expanded) and partial responsibility due to diminished capacity.

EMED is broader than the common law provocation defense because:

  1. A specific provocative act is not required.
  2. Even if there is a provocation, it need not involve "an injury, affront, or other provocative act perpetrated upon [the defendant] by the decedent."
  3. Even if the decedent provoked the incident, it need not fall within any fixed category of provocations.
  4. Words alone can warrant a manslaughter instruction.
  5. There is no rigid cooling-off rule. The suddenness requirement of the common law—that the homicide must follow almost immediately after the provocation—is absent form the EMED defense.