The crime of passion is not a new phenomenon - in fact it is an ancient concept. Some, including Dressler, 1982, believe that the first crime ever committed was a crime of passion: the killing of Abel by his brother Cain, in Genesis Ch. 4, v. 1 - 8. According to Dressler (1982) this crime had the two main components that constitute a crime of passion - jealousy and a familial aspect. However, not all criminologists believe that the crime of passion is so easily definable. In fact, each commentator seems to have a different definition of the term, which will be discussed in Chapter One.

Crimes of passion are a unique crime - the offender is unlikely to have had a history of previous criminal activity nor is it likely that they will ever offend again. It is a spur of the moment crime, but unlike one which could claim a defence of self-defence or even perhaps provocation. It is unique, yet it still gets treated in the same way as any other murder. It gets overlooked when discussing homicide, and is seen in the same light as all other murders - but it is different. For this reason, it is important to study the crime of passion as a separate issue.

This dissertation sets out not only to study the crime of passion as a separate issue, but to examine whether it would be desirable to introduce the crime of passion as a separate entity within the criminal justice system of England and Wales. This does occur in other jurisdictions, where the crime of passion is treated with a more lenient stance, but at present in England and Wales there is no differentiation between the crime of passion and other murders. To treat it differently, like other jurisdictions, could prove to be an important issue culturally, legally and politically - the significance of which will be discussed later in Chapter 3.

In order to discuss this issue, it is first necessary to explain the present standing of the crime of passion within the criminal justice system of England and Wales. This is discussed in Chapter 1, with an explanation of the offences of murder and manslaughter and their penalties, and the defences of provocation, self defence and diminished responsibility. This is followed by an analysis of the position of the crime of passion within the criminal justice system.

Chapter Two continues with a study of the experiences of other jurisdictions regarding the crime of passion, in particular, that of France, who holds a more lenient view of the crime of passion. The study is approached in two sections, dealing with jurisdictions that incorporate the crime of passion into their legislation directly and jurisdictions that incorporate indirectly.

Having looked at the experiences and views of other jurisdictions, Chapter Three draws on these ideas to predict the cultural, legal and political issues that may arise in England and Wales if the crime of passion were introduced. These issues include individualisation and the mandatory life sentence, the experiences of the battered spouse, people' perceptions of leniency and sentencing issues.

The final chapter, Chapter Four, addresses whether the crime of passion should be an offence or a defence. It then discusses whether or not the crime of passion should be incorporated into the criminal justice system of England and Wales and makes the final conclusion.


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Continue to Chapter One.

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