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Felony Murder Rule in Common Law

Author Affiliations

  • 14 Islamic Azad University, Qom branch, , Qom, IRAN
  • 2 Islamic Azad University, Tehran-Shomal branch, , Tehran, IRAN
  • 3 University of Judicial Sciences, , Tehran, IRAN
  • 4 Tehran University, Farabi campus, , Qom, IRAN

Res. J. Recent Sci., Volume 4, Issue (4), Pages 100-104, April,2 (2015)


Recurring problem in criminal law is the breadth of coverage to be given the felony murder rule. At common law a death occurring in the course of a felony was chargeable to the felon as murder. Constricted variations of that rule have now been adopted by statute or through judicial construction in most jurisdictions. Enmund v. Florida (1982) and Tison v. Arizona (1987) were two cases which were brought to Supreme Court and the disputes over capital felony-murder were then reappeared, where the assertions made by two highly divided Courts regarding the position of community sentiment on this matter were quite controversial. Two experiments were carried out to examine these assertions regarding the felony-murder rule and the accessorial liability theory where in a simulated forum, mock jurors passed verdicts and sentences for four defendants who varied in their level of culpability and level of participation in the crime. To test the Supreme Court's reasoning, the "ninth Justice" paradigm was used to render rulings and reasons for the subjects wherein they could "reverse and remand" or "let stand" the death sentence for felony-murder. The experimental outcome shows that the accessorial liability theory and the felony-murder rule are both rejected obviously and in a consistent manner by the subjects, and these results disapprove the majority's assertions in Tison regarding the position of community sentiment.


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