Crimes of Passion



Unlike such crimes as tax evasion or burglary, many murders are “crimes of passion.” The classical idea of a “crime passionel” conjures up a husband who surprises his wife in flagrante delicto, having adulterous relations with another man. In a passionate rage, the wronged husband, or boyfriend, kills her and/or her lover. Such passion has served as a legal excuse in some jurisdictions and is a mitigating circumstance in others, wherefore the “crime of passion” is not punished as severely as the same act would be punished without the motive of passion. I know of no death penalty imposed for crimes of passion in the United States—although the definition of such crimes may vary.


Death Penalty Classical Idea Rational Person Family Dispute Mitigate Circumstance 
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© Ernest van den Haag and John P. Conrad 1983

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