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Sign the Petition to

U.S. Congress

We are signing this Petition to ask you to sponsor a bill.

The draconian law called the Felony Murder Rule, which says that a person who is not directly responsible for someone's death can be prosecuted for first-degree murder. As I'm sure you know, if convicted of first-degree murder, the only penalties are death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Our concern is that some young people, who don't have the best judgment to begin with, may find themselves caught up in this law because of their association with the wrong friends - friends who commit a serious crime resulting in someone's death.

Young people can be so carefree and irresponsible. If they commit a crime they should be punished, but using the Felony Murder Rule is too much for those that had no weapon and meant no harm to come to anyone.

We have an abundance of laws and people should be charged for crimes they actually commit. The Felony Murder Rule can allow a fictitious charge of first-degree murder and the prosecutor doesn't have to prove intent!

Reading extensively on the laws online, this convinced me that this law is unjust and unconstitutional and that serious study and legislative debate needs to be given to repealing or amending the law.

Again, I hope that you will consider sponsoring a bill to repeal or amend the Felony Murder Rule to remove the chance of throwing away valuable young lives. There are already thousands of innocent men and women sitting in our prison system having been convicted under this ancient unjust law!

Signed,

Susan Ramsey

How this will help

What's Wrong With The Felony Murder Rule - Common Sense:

1 - The felony murder rule operates as a matter of law upon proof of the intent to commit a felony to relieve the prosecution of its...

What's Wrong With The Felony Murder Rule - Common Sense:

1 - The felony murder rule operates as a matter of law upon proof of the intent to commit a felony to relieve the prosecution of its burden of proving intent to kill, which is a necessary element of murder.

2 - The intention to commit a felony does not equal the intention to kill, nor is the intention to commit a felony, by itself, sufficient to establish a charge of murder.

3 - The felony murder rule erodes the relation between criminal liability and moral culpability in that it punishes all homicides in the commission, or attempted commission, of the proscribed felonies, whether intentional, unintentional, or accidental, without proving the relation between the homicide and the perpetrator's state of mind.

4 - Under the felony murder rule, the defendant's state of mind is irrelevant. Because intent is a characterization of a particular state of mind with respect to a killing, felony murder bears little resemblance to the offense of murder except in name. First-degree murder is an arbitrary assignment.

5 - Holding one or many criminally liable for the bad results of an act which differs greatly from the intended results is based on a concept of culpability which is totally at odds with the general principles of jurisprudence.

6 - It is fundamentally unfair and in violation of basic principles of individual criminal culpability to hold one felon liable for the unforeseen and un-agreed to results of another felon's action.

7 - The basic rule of culpability is further violated when felony murder is categorized as first-degree murder because all other first-degree murders (carrying equal punishment) require a showing of premeditation, deliberation and willfulness, while felony murder only requires a showing of intent to do the underlying felony.

8 - The purpose of creating degrees of murder is to punish with increased severity the more culpable forms of murder, but an accidental killing during the commission or attempted commission of a felony is punished more severely than a second-degree murder.

9 - While the felony murder rule survives in Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Massachusetts, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, California and other states, the numerous modifications and restrictions of it by some states' courts and legislatures throughout the United States reflect dissatisfaction with the basic harshness and injustice of the doctrine and call into question its continued existence.

10 - The felony murder rule can be used by prosecutors in a manner so as to cause grossly disproportionate sentencing, depending on the circumstances of each individual case.

11 - The felony murder rule is unconstitutional because presumption of innocence is thrown to the winds. The prosecution needs only to prove intent to commit the underlying felony; that done, first degree-murder becomes part and parcel of the underlying felony because intent to commit murder does not have to be proved.

12 - (a) The felony murder rule is unconstitutional because in some cases it violates the Eighth Amendment: cruel and unusual punishment, grossly disproportionate to the crime(s) actually committed.

(b) The felony murder rule holds unequally involved parties equally accountable and punishable. Again, cruel and unusual punishment if you're only the lookout for a robber who happens to kill in the process of the robbery.

13 - The felony murder rule violates the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process because no defense is allowed on the charge of first-degree murder, only the underlying felony.

14 - The felony murder rule bears no rational relationship or equity in its two penalties, with the penalties of other murder laws, including, at times, the charge of first-degree murder.

15 - It is no longer acceptable to equate the intent to commit a felony with the intent to kill.

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