Friday, November 11, 2011

People v. Smith case brief (Merger Doctrine)

People v. Smith

  • Two year old daughter refused to sit on the couch to eat.  D became angry, spanked her and slapped her.  
  • D moved the daughter to the corner, hit her repeatedly, knocking her to the floor.
  • Roommate joined in, D knocked the child back, sending the child into respiratory arrest. 
  • D took the child to the hospital; the child died that evening.
Can the 2nd degree Felony Murder Rule apply when the felony is an integral part of the homicide?
No, it cannot be applied.  The child abuse itself was the assault that resulted in the death.  The purpose of the FMR is not to deter the felony itself, but to deter negligent or accidental killings that may occur in the course of committing that felony.
-The purpose of the 2nd degree FMR is to deter those engaged in felonies from killing negligently or accidentally.  
-the 2dFMR must be applied to a felony that is independent of the homicide.
-The court states that if it were to allow the use of the rule in cases where felonies were an integral part of the homicide that was committed, it would be precluding the jury from considering the element of malice in cases where homicide was committed as a result of a felonious assault.
-This would, in effect, eliminate the element of malice for most homicides.
-Court looks at People v. Burton, which was an armed Robbery case, states that the FMR may apply if the underlying offense was committed with an independent felonious purpose.

No 2dFMR
-Assault with a deadly weapon.
-Burglary with intent to assault.
-Discharging a firearm in an inhabited dwelling.

2dFMR can apply
-Furnishing narcotics.
-Driving under the influence.
-Armed robbery.
-Child abuse by malnutrition/dehydration.

Class: Criminal Law
Topics: Merger Doctrine, 2nd Degree Felony Murder Rule

1 comment:

  1. So what was the judgment of this case if the parents were not to get 2nd degree felony murder?
    How would this case differ from Midgett v. State?


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