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University at Buffalo School of Law

Homicide

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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

The Origins Of American Felony Murder Rules, Guyora Binder Jan 2004

The Origins Of American Felony Murder Rules, Guyora Binder

Journal Articles

Contemporary commentators continue to instruct lawyers and law students that England bequeathed America a sweeping default principle of strict liability for all deaths caused in all felonies. This Article exposes the harsh "common law" felony murder rule as a myth. It retraces the origins of American felony murder rules to reveal their modern, American, and legislative sources, the rationality of their original scope, and the fairness of their original application. It demonstrates that the draconian doctrine of strict liability for all deaths resulting from all felonies was never enacted into English law or received into American law. This Article reviews ...