Murder is, of course, a felony charge on its own. However, when someone is charged with a “felony murder,” it can be very different than what people generally think of as a murder charge.
Typically, a murder charge requires intent. A person has to plan out, to some degree, that they’re going to take another person’s life, and then enact that plan to its fulfillment. An accidental death is often considered a negligent homicide, but may not be murder.
Felony murder, however, is when someone loses their life while another person is in the commission of a felony. They may not ever have intended to take a life, but the result is the same. If the person is carrying out a felony at the time, and they inadvertently lead to someone else’s death due to a reckless indifference for human life, that is the legal grounds for a felony murder charge.
An example of how this may occur
To consider how this may happen, imagine that someone decides to commit first-degree burglary, which is a felony. They break into someone else’s house when they think that no one is home.
However, someone is home at the time. That person wakes up and tries to take a back staircase to get out of the house. However, it has been raining, and the back staircase is very slick. They slip and fall, landing awkwardly on their neck and suffering a fatal injury.
Now, the person who was breaking in only had the intent of robbing the house. They never wanted to harm anyone, they never thought anyone was there and their crime was mostly financial in nature. They just wanted to steal items that they could re-sell. However, since they were committing a felony at the time, and their actions caused the other person to be involved in the accident that took their life, they could be prosecuted as having committed a felony murder.
What options do you have?
If this has happened to you, it can be very distressing, as you never wanted things to go this way and you never would have intentionally done anything to harm someone else. But you’re still facing very serious charges that could change your life. You must know about all of the legal options that you have at this time.