Murder (Italian law)

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By Italian law, murder (omicidio [omiˈtʃidjo]) is regulated by articles 575-582, 584-585, and 589 of the Codice Penale (Penal Code).

In general, according to Art. 575, "whoever causes the death of a human being is punishable by no less than 21 years in prison"; nevertheless, the law indicates a series of circumstances under which murder has to be punished with life in prison.

Definitions and Penalties[edit]

According to Italian law, any sentence of more than 5 years perpetually deprives (Interdizione perpetua dai Pubblici Uffici) the condemned person of: the voting rights; the ability to exercise any public office; the ability to be employed in any governmental or para-statal position (articles 19, 28, 29). The convict for life is also deprived of his/her parental rights: the children are either given in custody to the other parent or hosted in a public structure (art. 32).

Life Imprisonment[edit]

Articles 576 and 577 provide for punishment of life imprisonment for murder committed:

  1. In order to commit another crime, or in order to escape, of favor, or take advantage from another crime (art.61, sect.2);
  2. Against a next of kin (parent or child) and either through insidious means, with premeditation, cruelly, of for futile motives;
  3. By a fugitive in order to escape capture, or in order to acquire means of subsistence;
  4. While raping or sexually assaulting a person (articles 609 bis, 609 quater, 609 octies);
  5. By a stalker against the victim of stalking;
  6. Against a police officer engaged in enforcing the law;
  7. In a cruel way and/or through the use of torture (art.61, sect.1);
  8. For abject and/or futile motives (art.61, sect.4);
  9. Against a next of kin (parent or child);
  10. Through insidious means;
  11. With premeditation.

Cases 1 through 4 (art. 576) had been considered capital murder, and therefore punishable by death by firing squad. Since 1946, though, death penalty was discontinued in Italy, and death was substituted with life imprisonment. Sentences of life imprisonment are subject to parole or probation. A person that is serving a life sentence can reach libertà condizionata (conditional release) after 26 years.

Other Definitions[edit]

Besides the criminal murder detailed above, in Italian law the following cases also exist:

English Italian Definition Article
Infanticide Infanticidio in condizioni di abbandono materiale e morale murder of the infant immediately following the birth committed by the mother who is in conditions of material or moral disorder, is punishable with a sentence between 4 and 12 years. 578
Killing on demand Omicidio del consenziente the action to kill someone with his/her consent, is punishable with a sentence between 6 and 15 years. This, however, is considered murder if the victim, when giving his/her consent, was under the age of 18, intoxicated, mentally disabled, or if the consent was obtained through violence, menace, or deception. 579
Assistance or instigation of suicide Istigazione o aiuto al suicidio the action to help someone to commit suicide, or to convince someone to commit suicide, is punishable with a sentence between 5 and 12 years if the suicide succeeds, or between 1 and 5 years if it does not succeed but a body injury has been made. This, however, is considered murder if the suicide is under the age of 14. 580
Injury resulting in death Omicidio preterintenzionale occurs when, as a result of a deliberated act of violence not meant to kill (articles 581,582), the death of a person occurs. This crime is punishable with a sentence between 10 and 18 years (art.584). This sentence can be increased from one third to one half (up to 27 years) if a circumstance stated by articles 576 and 577 occurs, or if a weapon is used. 585
Manslaughter Omicidio colposo the action of causing the death of a person without intention, is punished with a sentence between 6 months and 5 years. If the victims are more than one as a consequence of the same act, multiple counts can be added up to 12 years in prison. 589

See also[edit]