A domestic violence situation turned out very badly in Newton County last week. According to reports, Cedric Cook has been accused of firing shots at his home and killing his wife and stepdaughter and seriously injuring his stepdaughter's boyfriend. Amongst other charges, Cook is reportedly facing two counts of felony murder in Georgia.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will outline the offense felony murder in today's post. It differs from all other types of homicide offenses, and today, I will explain why.
Felony Murder in Georgia
Georgia Law defines felony murder in the following statute:
A person commits the offense of murder when, in the commission of a felony, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice. O.C.G.A. §16-5-1(c).
Unlike the offense of murder in Georgia, felony murder occurs when someone commits a serious or inherently dangerous felony, and someone else dies during the course of committing or attempting to commit the felony.
Felonies that are inherently dangerous by law include the following offenses:
- Burglary in Georgia,
- Arson in Georgia,
- Rape in Georgia,
- Kidnapping in Georgia,
- Aggravated Assault in Georgia,
- And Cruelty to Children in Georgia.
These felonies in particular are classified as inherently dangerous because each of those offenses involve circumstances that create a foreseeable risk of a death occurring.
With complex crimes, I usually find that an example is the best illustrator. Consider the following hypothetical…
Henry makes the terrible decision to break into a warehouse, intending to steal materials. Henry goes through with his plan and commits the burglary. However, as soon as Henry is going to leave, he hears someone running behind him, and he arbitrarily fires his weapon - meaning only to maim his pursuer. The shot ends up killing the other man. Now, Henry (although not intending to kill anyone) has committed an inherently dangerous felony as well as felony murder.
If convicted of felony murder, the penalty can include either life in prison with/without parole or the death penalty.
However, there are times when felony murder is wrongfully positioned in a case. Wrongful arrests and accusations occur more often that anyone would like to admit. In these cases, there are Georgia Criminal Defenses that can apply to a case.
In the event of a wrongful accusation of felony murder, these defenses may be operable:
- The underlying crime was not an inherently dangerous felony offense.
- The homicide was independent of the felony offense committed.
- Death was not a foreseeable result of the felony offense.
This by no means is a comprehensive list of defenses as each case varies, but if you or a loved one has been arrested for committing a crime in Georgia, contact our offices today.