Legal Definitions

CRIMES OF PASSION: A crime committed in the heat: of an emotional charged moment, with no opportunity to reflect on what is happening.

INSTANTANEOUS CRIME: A crime that is fully completed by a single act, as “arson or murder”, rather than a series of actions.

HEAT OF PASSION: Rage, terror, furious hatred suddenly aroused by some immediate provocation, usually another persons words or actions. At Common law. This heat of passion could serve, in a murder defense, as a mitigating circumstance that would reduce the charge to manslaughter Also termed sudden heat of passion, Sudden heat; sudden passion, not blood; furor brevis. (confer, compare with) cold blood, cool blood.

**Note “To constitute the heat: of passion included in this requirement it is not necessary for the passion to be so extreme that the person does not know what he is doing at the time; but it must be so extreme that for the moment his action is being directed by passion rather than reason.
CRIMINAL HOMICIDE: Homicide prohibited and punishable by law, such as murder, or manslaughter. (the act of purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causing the death of another human being.

EXCUSABLE HOMICIDE: Homicide resulting from a person’s lawful act, committed without intention to harm another.

FELONIOUS HOMICIDE: Homicide committed unlawfully, without legal justification or excuse. This category falls into murder and manslaughter.

JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE: The killing of another in “self Defence” when faced with danger of death or serious bodily injury. Also termed excusable homicide (see) self – defence. A killing mandated or permitted by law such as “execution” for a capital crime.

RECKLESS HOMICIDE: The unlawful killing of another person with conscious indifferences towards that persons life (manslaughter)

EMOTIONAL INSANITY: Insanity produced by a “violent excitement of the emotions” or passions, Although reasoning faculties may remain unimpaired: A passion that for a period creates complete derangement of intellect. Emotional insanity is sometimes described as irresistible impulse to do an act.

TEMPORARY INSANITY Insanity that exists only at the time of a criminal act.

FIRST DEGREE MURDER: Murder that is wilful deliberate or premeditated, or that is committed during the course of another serious felony (often limited to rape, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, or arson. All murder perpetrated by poisoning or by lying in wait is considered first degree murder. All types of murder not involving wilful, deliberate and premeditated killing are usually considered second degree murder.

SECOND DEGREE MURDER: Murder that is not aggravated by any of the circumstances of first degree murder.

EXTRANEOUS OFFENCES. An offence beyond or unrelated to the offence for which a defendant is on trial..

PREMEDITATION: Conscious consideration and Planning that precedes some act (such as committing a crime)

PROVOCATION: Something (such as words or actions) that arouses anger or animosity in another, (causing that person to respond in the heat of passion, “Adequate” provocation can reduce a murder charge to a voluntary manslaughter.

SELF DEFENSE: The use of force to protect oneself, ones family, or ones property, from a real or threatened attack. Generally a person is justified in using a reasonable amount of force in self defense if he or she believes that the danger or bodily harm is imminent and that force is necessary to avoid this danger. Also termed “defense of self” Adequate Provocation .

**NOTE The law of self defence ,as it is applied by the courts, turns on two requirements (1) The force must have been necessary, and (2) it must have been reasonable.

IMPERFECT SELF-DEFENSE: The use of force by one who makes an honest but unreasonable mistake that force is necessary to repel an attack. In some jurisdictions such a self defender will be charged with a lesser offense than the one committed.

RESTRAINING ORDER: A court order prohibiting or restricting a person from harrassing, threatening, and sometimes even contacting or approaching another specified person.

REBUTTAL: In Court contradiction of an adverse party’s evidence (2) The time given to a party to present contradicting evidence or arguments.

LESSER INCLUDED OFFENCES: A crime that is composed of some, but not all, of the elements of a more serious crime and that is necessarily committed in carry out the greater crime.

COGNATE OFFENCES: A lesser offence that is related to the greater offence because it shows several of the elements of the greater offences and is of the same class or category

CASUAL: (of an event or occurrence) not expected, forseen, or planned, fortuitous

PER CURIAM: (opinion) (per kyoor-ee-em) An opinion handed down by an appellate court without identifying the individual judge who wrote the opinion.- sometimes shortened to per curiam.

OPINIONS: A courts written statement explaining its decision in a given case, usually, including the statement of facts, points of law, rationale and dicta.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION: An opinion that the court has specifically designated as not for publication. Court rules usually prohibit citing an unpublished opinion as authority. Such as opinion is considered binding on only the parties to the particular case in which it is issued. CF. Slip opinion.

FORCE MAJEURE: An event or effect that can be neither anticipated nor controlled, an act of people.

MALICE AFORETHOUGHT : The requisits mental state for common law murder, encompassing any one of the following: (1) The intent to Kill. (2) The intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, (3) extremely reckless indifferences to the value of human life. (The so-called “abandoned and malignant heart”) or (4) The intent to commit a felony (which leads to culpability under the felony murder rule) Also termed premeditated malice, preconceived malice, malice propense; malitia praecogitata

MOTIVE: Something, especially willful desire, that leads one to act.

**NOTE The term “motive” is unfortunately ambiguous. That feeling which internally urges or pushes a person to do, or refrain from doing an act is an emotion, and is of course evidential towards his doing or not doing the act. But when that evidential fact comes in turn to be evidenced, we must rely on two sorts of data, (a) the person’s own expressions of that emotion, eg I hate M, or I wish I owned that necklace and (b) external circumstances, likely in human experiences to arouse the emotions e.g slander on D may be evidence that D became angry, a purse of money left in sight of D maybe be evidence that D’s desire to have it was aroused. Now this second sort of evidential circumstance (b) is loosely referred to as “motive” – though in reality it is only evidential of the emotion, which itself is evidential of the act.

REASONABLE DOUBT: The doubt that prevents one from being firmly, convinced of a defendants guilt, or the belief that there is a real possibility that that a defendant is no guilty. “beyond reasonable doubt” is the standard used by a jury to determine whether a criminal defendant is guilty. In deciding whether guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt, the jury must begin with the presumption that the defendant is innocent…

***NOTE “reasonable doubt…
is a term often used, probably pretty well understood, but not easily defined. It is not mere possible doubt, because everything relating human affairs, and depending on moral evidence, is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case, which after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leaves the minds of jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction, to a moral certainty, of the truth of the charge.