The crime of passion is not recognised as an individual entity in the criminal justice system of England and Wales at present, unlike some other countries. Through a study of the definition of murder, its defences and manslaughter, the crime of passion can be seen to be incorporated as a part of the defence of provocation. The situation in France is different, where it is seen as a separate act: throughout the years it has been treated in various ways, but at present is treated with leniency. Other countries, such as Brazil, also treat the crime of passion leniently. Different states of the USA treat the crime of passion differently, either as a separate issue or as part of the provocation defence.
If the crime of passion were to be incorporated into the criminal justice system of England and Wales, there are several issues that would be need to be faced. This includes, in particular, the problem of the existence of the mandatory life sentence for murder. With this doctrine in place, it would be impossible for the crime of passion to be treated more leniently, as it would still be recognised as murder. The incorporation of the crime of passion could have a large effect on the current situation of the battered spouse who reacts fatally, as often they would be able to claim that their crime was a crime of passion, as is shown through a study of their treatment in other jurisdictions. The fate of the impassioned offender would also need to be decided upon, depending on the views of the purposes of sentencing. It would be more useful to amend the mandatory life sentence for murder rule than to incorporate the crime of passion as a separate entity into the criminal justice system.
Back to dissertation front page.