Criminal Law

Felony Murder

The felony murder rule states one who commits one of the jurisdiction's specified felonies which results in someone's death is guilty of murder.

Typically, this list includes arson, burglary, rape, and robbery.

The felony murder rule does have three notable limiting requirements:

  1. Independent Felony

    To trigger the felony murder rule, a felony must be independent from the death caused.

    This is often assessed by asking if the felony would merge into a murder charge because it is a lesser-included charge. If so, it is not independent.

    As an example, an assault that results in a death is not independent. A defendant cannot be convicted of both assault and murder for the same act. In contrast, rape never merges into murder, so the independent felony rule would never apply in such cases.

  2. Inherently Dangerous Felony

    For a felony to trigger the felony murder rule, it must be "inherently dangerous" to human life.

  3. In Furtherance of a Felony

    The killing cannot be too remote from the felony. It must be performed "in furtherance of" the felony.

    Evasion of law enforcement after a crime is usually considered part of the crime's commission.