There are two types of "innocent" homicide: justifiable and excusable. Homicide is considered justifiable if it is either required or permitted by law. A required homicide would be the killing of the enemy soldier on the field of combat during wartime. Another example would be the court ordered execution of a state prisoner pursuant to a sentence of death. Other instances of a justifiable homicide would be killings which are required in arrested a felon, self-defense against an attacker threatening one's life and prevention of certain violent crimes such as rape or robbery.
Excusable homicides are deaths that result from accidents where there is no criminal negligence. When a child fires a loaded firearm killing someone, that homicide is called excusable due to the age of the child.
Killing of an Unborn Child
Under Common Law, the killing of an unborn child was not homicide. This is still true in most states. California has amended its rule to read: "Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus, with malice aforethought " Penal Code §187. However, interestingly, the manslaughter statute has not been amended to include a fetus.
Sexual Violent Predator
Separate from these commonly viewed violent crimes,
there is a special category of other "violent" crimes. Certain
sexual offenses against children are statutorily defined as being "violent"
even though there is no violence involved. The SVP (Sexual Violent Predator)
laws under Welfare
& Institution Code §6600 et seq., define any crime committed
against a child under the age of 14 that involves substantial sexual contact,
to be a crime of violence, even if there is no actual violence. The perpetrator
will thereafter be labeled a Violent Predator.
Written by Patrick
H. Kelly, Attorney at Law
- Written by Patrick H. Kelly, Attorney at Law
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