Personal Crimes Analysis

Homicide is a personal crime which refers to the killing of a human being either through an act of commission or an act of negligence. In other words, either the perpetrator of the act did the actual killing of the victim or he or she did something else which resulted to the death of the victim. Homicide could be differentiated from other personal crimes like assault, battery, and rape where nobody gets killed. There are criminal and non-criminal cases of homicide. Criminal homicides involve cases where the killings could not be legally justified. These include murder and manslaughter. Non-criminal homicides, on the other hand, are further subdivided into excusable and justifiable homicides (Criminal Law Lawyer Source, n.d.).

Excusable and justifiable homicides
An act of killing is considered excusable or justifiable when, after considering the circumstances surrounding the case, the court finds no wrong in spite of the consequent death. Excusable homicides generally involve accidental killings. An example of an excusable homicide is a case where a man is accidentally killed by a hunter who mistakes him for a deer. This is excusable because while the hunters intention is to shoot and most probably kill the target, the intent of the hunter is not to kill a human being because he or she believes that the target is a wild animal, thereby making the killing of a human being purely accidental in nature. The mistake, of course, should be established beyond any doubt. Another example is a death which results from a motor vehicle accident. When two motor vehicles, for instance, simply collides without any of the drivers committing any traffic violation such as the law against driving while intoxicated, the resulting death is considered excusable (USLegal, n.d.).

On the other hand, an act of self-defense is one example of justifiable homicide. Under the law, when an individual is being violently attacked, he or she is justified in defending his or her life even if such defensive action results to the death of the attacker. In the same vein, the act of prison officials in executing a death convict is legally justifiable even though the killing is intentional. This is because the action is being done merely to satisfy an obligation imposed by law. In some state jurisdictions, the action of a homeowner in killing a person who is invading his or her residence or any piece of real property unlawfully is also considered justifiable and, therefore, legal (USLegal, n.d.).

Criminal homicides
Murder and manslaughter are both criminal homicides. Either case occurs when one person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causes the death of another person. Murder is distinguished from manslaughter by existence of the elements of desire and premeditation. For murder to be proven, it should be established that the perpetrator has a desire to kill the victim and then actually devices and carries out a plan of killing the victim. The term being used in legal circles is malice aforethought. For instance, if the event took place in the residence of the victim, it should first be shown that the perpetrator had actually planned to kill the victim and then went to the victims home with the sole purpose of carrying out his or her plan. Murder is also considered to have occurred when a person is killed while a felony crime is in progress. For instance, when a security guard who discovers a burglary in progress gets killed, all the burglars are guilty of murder, not only the burglar who does the actual killing (Criminal Law Lawyer Source, n.d.).

Murder is further subdivided into first degree and second degree murder. In the first degree murder, malice aforethought should be established  meaning that desire and premeditation should be present. In other words, the perpetrator should not have only wished to kill the victim but in fact planned to kill him or her. Some aggravating circumstances could also elevate an act to first degree murder even in the absence of malice aforethought. There are several examples of aggravating circumstances. One of these is when the victim is a member of the police force. Another is when a child, who is supposed to be helpless, is killed. Multiple killings could likewise serve as an aggravating factor. First degree murder is punishable with death in states that impose capital punishment. Otherwise, the usual sentence is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Theoretically, when only malice could be established (without premeditation), a crime of murder is generally classified as a second degree murder. Different states distinguish a first degree from a second degree murder differently, depending upon how a state considers the circumstances surrounding a case. In practice, however, prosecutors often exercise their charging powers to downgrade a charge from the first to the second degree murder especially when dangling a plea bargaining offer (Criminal Law Lawyer Source, n.d.).

Generally speaking, manslaughter is the killing without premeditation while the desire to kill the victim may or may not be present. When the desire to kill is present, the crime is categorized as a voluntary manslaughter. However, the desire in this case is sudden and is a result of a fierce emotion which is felt by the perpetrator only moments before the killing. This is why it is usually referred to as a crime committed in the heat of passion. In a voluntary manslaughter, the victim provokes the perpetrator who consequently becomes very, very angry. Then, before the feeling of rage subsides, the killing takes place. A classic example of a case of voluntary manslaughter is when a husband finds his wife in bed with another man and immediately kills either his wife or her lover. Another is a death which occurs in a bar fight where most of the participants are drunk (Net Industries, 2010).

In involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, the killing occurs without a desire to kill on the part of the perpetrator. In other words, involuntary manslaughter results to an accidental killing brought about by the negligence of the perpetrator. In this context, negligence means that the death occurs either because of the failure of the person responsible to observe caution in what he or she is doing at the time, or that he or she is distracted from his or her chore. For instance, a person drops a heavy concrete block from a third floor window without making sure that the ground below is clear of people. If the block accidentally hits a man on the head and kills him, he could be charged with involuntary manslaughter resulting from his negligence (Net Industries, 2010).

Assault involves three elements. The first element is that the perpetrator threatens to cause intentional harm or injury to the victim. The second is that the threat is made in such a way that causes the victim to fear for his or her personal safety. Thirdly, it should be apparent to the victim that the perpetrator could actually carry out the threat unless prevented from doing so. If these three elements are present, a charge of assault could be brought despite the absence of any direct contact between the victim and the perpetrator and even if the latter has no real capability to make the threat come true.

Battery occurs when a person intentionally touches another (using any part of his or her body or any other objects) against the latters will. Injury need not occur for the crime of battery to be completed. Examples of battery are the act of spitting on another person and the poking of ones index finger in the victims chest. Even if such actions are not capable of causing any physical injury, they are nevertheless enough to complete a crime of battery (Larson, 2003).

Mayhem refers to an intentional act of one person to disfigure, amputate, or disable any part of another persons body. Mayhem, for instance, is when two persons are fighting and one of them bites off one of the fingers of the other. There is also mayhem if, in another fight, one person uses a baseball bat to shatter the kneecaps of the other person. However, in many states, instead of mayhem, these acts constitute aggravated battery (FreeAdvice b, 2008).

Rape has four elements, namely penetration (even as slight as the mere placement of a finger or couple of fingers between the folds of the vaginal skin), the use of or the threat to use force, the absence of consent on the part of the victim, and sexual activity consummated after force was used against the will of the victim. In proving the elements of nonconsent and threat of force, consideration is being given to any body language, the size difference between the victim and the perpetrator, even the possibility that the perpetrator is the victims workplace superior. In other words, the victim does not have to say out loud that she does not want to have sex in order to establish nonconsent. To prove rape, the intent of the perpetrator should also be established to have intercourse by force and without consent.

Statutory rape
Statutory rape refers to a sexual activity between an adult and a child whose age is still below the statutory age of consent. Statutory rape could involve an adult male and a female child, or a female adult and a male child. Statutory age of consent varies from state to state. However, it is generally between the ages of 15 and 16. Statutory rape takes place even if the child consents to have sex with the adult.


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