Crime of passion

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A crime of passion, or crime passionnel, in popular usage, refers to a violent crime, especially murder, in which the perpetrator commits the act against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage rather than as a premeditated crime. The act, as is suggested by the name (crime passionnel from French language) is often associated with the history of France. However, such crimes have existed and continue to exist in most cultures. [1]

Description[edit]

A crime of passion refers to a criminal act in which the perpetrator commits a crime, especially murder or assault, against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage rather than as a premeditated crime.[2] A typical crime of passion might involve an aggressive pub-goer who assaults another guest following an argument or a husband who discovers his wife has made him a cuckold and proceeds to brutally batter or even kill his wife or the man with whom she was involved.

In the United States, crimes of passions have been traditionally associated with the defenses of temporary insanity or provocation. This defense was first used by U.S. Congressman Daniel Sickles of New York in 1859 after he had killed his wife's lover, Philip Barton Key, but was mostly used during the 1940s and 1950s. Historically, such defenses were used as complete defenses for various violent crimes, but gradually they became used primarily as a partial defense to a charge of murder which acts by converting what would otherwise have been murder into manslaughter.

In some countries, notably France, crime passionnel (or crime of passion) was a valid defense during murder cases; during the 19th century, some cases could be a custodial sentence for two years for the murderer, while the spouse was dead; this ended in France as the Napoleonic code was updated in the 1970s so that a specific father's authority upon his whole family was over.

Latin America[edit]

Some human rights advocates say that the phenomenon of crimes of passion in Latin America, a region which has a history of treating such crimes extremely leniently, is often minimized, with most attention being given to honor killings (mostly associated with the Middle East and South Asia). Although there are differences between crimes of passion (which are generally impulsive) and honor killings (which are generally planned - with the involvement of several family members), in 2002, Widney Brown, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, argued that "crimes of passion have a similar dynamic in that the women are killed by male family members and the crimes are perceived as excusable or understandable".[3]

Women's rights advocacy[edit]

In recent decades, feminists and women's rights organizations have worked to change laws and social norms which tolerate crimes of passion against women. UN Women has urged states to review legal defenses of passion and provocation, and other similar laws, to ensure that such laws do not lead to impunity in regard to violence against women, stating that "laws should clearly state that these defenses do not include or apply to crimes of “honour”, adultery, or domestic assault or murder." [4] Women's organizations have also called for the abolition of laws which criminalize adultery, arguing that such laws incite violence against women, and are used in a discriminatory way against women. A Joint Statement by the United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice in 2012 stated:[5] "the United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice is deeply concerned at the criminalization and penalization of adultery whose enforcement leads to discrimination and violence against women." UN Women also stated that "Drafters should repeal any criminal offenses related to adultery or extramarital sex between consenting adults".[6]

Notable examples[edit]

France[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]