Assaultive Femicide and the American Felony-Murder Rule

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This article examines the American legal criminal doctrine that is commonly applied in cases of a particular sub-type of femicide: assaultive femicide, women who are battered to death. The most relevant criminal doctrine applicable to these circumstances is the felony-murder rule, applied in most U.S. jurisdictions. As will be shown, the doctrine's most problematic modification relates to one of its sub-doctrines, the principle of merger, which was stretched and extended to include lesser non-homicidal offenses such as assault. This gross doctrinal extension has in fact created a criminal anomaly whereby blameworthy murderers of women are exonerated and technically exempted from murder convictions. Given that most U.S. jurisdictions apply the felony-murder doctrine in some form, the article will analyze and scrutinize the felonymurder doctrine with regard to its particular applicability to circumstances of assaultive femicide. In addition, the article will propose statutory amendments to Sections 210.2(b) and 210.6 of the U.S. Model Penal Code. The proposed statutory amendments to the U.S. Model Penal Code are applicable, mutatis mutandis, to most American jurisdictions and may constitute a prototype for future legislative state reforms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-41
JournalBerkeley J. Crim. L.. Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


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