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What Is the Heat of Passion?

Criminal law courts have been subject to a variety of defense arguments. One such argument is the heat of passion, an argument that elaborates on the defendant’s state of mind and reason for having committed a criminal offense.

The heat of passion defense argues that the defendant was provoked to commit a criminal act by intense emotions that eventually led to loss of his or her control. This is necessary since an individual’s state of mind is one of the elements or conditions that fulfill a crime. One important element to a severe criminal offense such as murder is premeditation. This refers to an individual having thought of committing a crime before actually committing it. The heat of passion argument argues that the defendant did not fulfill this element because the thought of the committing a criminal offense never occurred to the defendant until the moment it happened. This kind of defense proves that the actions taken by the defendant were impulsive and were the result of passionate feelings. However, heat of passion also considers that any other reasonable person who, when faced with the same predicament, would act in the same manner as the defendant.

An individual who argues heat of passion may not necessarily be innocent of a crime. This legal defense can reduce a sentence if the defendant is found guilty rather than completely support a claim of the defendant’s innocence. An individual who is charged with murder may have his or her sentence reduced to manslaughter if heat of passion was proven.

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