Heat of Passion Upon Reasonable Provocation

Heat of Passion is a state of mind of passion, anger, fear, fright and nervous excitement. 

Reasonable Provocation is provocation of the type that would likely produce in a reasonable person such a state of passion, anger, fear, fright or nervous excitement as would overcome his or her capacity for reflection or restraint and does actually produce such a state of mind in the defendant.  The provocation must be such that a reasonable person would have become sufficiently provoked and would not have cooled off by the time of the killing, and that the defendant was so provoked and did not cool off by the time of the killing.

In addition, there must be a causal connection between the provocation, the state of heat of passion and the killing.  The killing must follow the provocation before there is sufficient time for the emotion to cool and must be the result of the state of mind induced by the provocation rather than a preexisting intent to kill or injure. 

Mere words, no matter how insulting or abusive, standing alone, do not constitute a reasonable provocation.

Physical combat, even a single blow, may amount to a reasonable provocation.  Whether the contact is sufficient depends on whether a reasonable person under similar circumstances would have been provoked to act out of emotion rather than reasoned reflection. 

The heat of passion must also be sudden; that is, the killing must have occurred before a reasonable person would have regained his or her emotions.

Because the prosecutor is required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed an unlawful killing with malice, and has not proved the absence of any mitigating circumstances, the jury must find the defendant 'not guilty' of Murder, but would be justified in finding the defendant guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter.

If you have been charged with the crime of Murder in Massachusetts, you should immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7.  To schedule a Free Consultation, Contact Us Online or call him directly at 617-325-9500.