Felonious Assault & Murder: US Statutes Explained - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-11-15
Felonious Assault & Murder: US Statutes Explained - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Law Criminal law Justice Criminal justice
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1583 words
14 min read


Criminal (Felonious) This is an act which is perpetrated with the intention of doing harm to another person. For instance assaulting another citizen of the United states of America will be considered as a felonious assault.

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Murder (First, Second, or Third Degree) Under the united states of America statute’s murder is the unlawful killing of another person. The actor should have malice aforethought. This is often referred to first degree murder. A person planning and executing an assassination plan is guilty of first degree murder.

Manslaughter (Voluntary or Involuntary) .This is killing of another person without having the intention to do so is known as manslaughter. It can be either voluntary or involuntary For instance a person killing their lover in the heat of the moment will be considered as voluntary manslaughter. A drug addict mother who kills their baby as a result of drug overdose via breastfeeding will be guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Noncriminal (Non-Felonious) These are homicides which are not as a result of the violation of laws. For instance a person cannot be jailed for killing a person during self-defense.

Excusable Homicide Excusable homicides are crimes which take place without the intention to murder. For instance when an arborists accidently cuts a colleague while cutting a tree will be considered as excusable.

Justifiable Homicide These are homicides which are authorized by the law. For instance police officers are justified to shoot and kill a thief if they reasonably believe that their lives are in danger.

The smith versus commonwealth, 68.Va.App is a very interesting case on homicide (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018). The matter involved a family, where one of the spouses shoots and kills the other for various reasons. The interesting part is during the trial; the appellant refused to be part of a certain portion of the proceeding even though her counsel and the court vehemently advised her against such an undertaking (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

It forms the basis of her appeal case she whereby he claims that the trial was a mistrial. Therefore this paper undertakes to analyze the circumstances surrounding the matter, the type and cause of death, and the various factors that influenced the medical investigations and autopsy. The paper will also look at the various forensics methods applied in the case and suggest the best action taken by the investigators in the strengthening of the matter (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

Describe the Circumstances Surrounding the Case

Firstly the appellant herein Mrs. Smith shoots and kills her husband at their house. The facts of the matter were that the victim was preparing their upstairs room for a renovation. Therefore the appellant and the victim decided to remove all the firearms stored in that room (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

The victim informed the appellant to be careful when handling the guns because it could hurt someone. The victim took the firearm downstairs and emptied the gun and later went upstairs to show the husband that she knew what she was doing. Sadly, the appellant pointed the gun on the victim and shot him on the head (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

After seeing what she had done, the appellant went downstairs and dialed 911, who sent law enforcement officers to the house. In the house officer, handy noticed that the appellant had blood in her hands and informed him that it was all her fault. The appellant and the victim had two children who stated that they argued the two before the victim was shot (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

During the trial, the appellant repeatedly refused to watch video evidence of her admitting to the crime. She claimed that the video was affecting her since she had post-traumatic stress disorder. She even decides to waive her right to be present at the trial, specifically not to watch the video. Before the court granted her this right, she was informed of the consequences of the action, but still decide it was best for her (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

The grand jury found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter, a conviction that she appealed. The grounds of her appeal were that the trial court erred in not allowing her to be present at her trial. Also, another ground was that she was not accorded fair trial because she did not testify in her trial (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

Summarize the Key Factors that may have been used to Classify the Type of Death and the Finding.

The grand jury in reaching the guilty verdict of voluntary manslaughter analyzed the matter carefully. First of all, manslaughter, as defined by sir William Blackstone is killing another person without malice aforethought during the execution of an illegal act. The murder may be involuntary or voluntary, or it can be in the heat of the moment. Nevertheless, there must be some provocation that has occurred (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

Therefore in this matter, the trial judge instructed the grand jury to consider whether the death of the victim was as a result of an intentional act and also whether it was committed in the heat of passion upon provocation. In consideration of the two factors, the jury was clear that the appellant intentionally killed the victim, in the sudden heat of passion after provocation by the victim (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018).

Analyze the ways that various Environmental Factors may have Influenced the Medical examination and Autopsy in this Investigation.

The first factor will relate to the position of the deceased body after getting shot (MALONEY, 2020). It is a fact that the paramedics found the body lying face down with blood oozing out of the head. The second factor will be the examination of the firearm that caused grievous damage (MALONEY, 2020). In this case, when forensics analyzed the firearm, they found that it did not have traces of the victim's blood.

The fact disproved the appellant's testimony that it had some traces of the victim's blood. Therefore all these factors show investigators that another human being probably shot the victim. Thus, the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, which led to massive blood loss.

Identify the forensic methods that were reported in the investigation and their findings.

There are various forensics methods which have been utilized in the above case. Firstly, the investigators used crime scene forensics when they arrived at the scene. By this method, they were able to determine where the crime had taken place (Turvey & Crowder, 2017). In this scenario, the crime was determined to have taken place on the second floor of the house.

It is where the body was found face down with blood oozing out of the wound. Besides, ballistics was done, and also further investigations disproved the fact that the victim's blood had smeared the firearm. The second method adopted in the investigations is forensic pathology. In this technique, the investigators will know the exact cause of the death of the victim (Turvey & Crowder, 2017). It is especially important in cases where the death is not from natural cause (Turvey & Crowder, 2017). Thus in this matter, it was concluded that the cause of death was a gunshot wound. They further stated that the victim was murdered.

Recommend one way that the investigators or forensic team could have strengthened their case based on your understanding of it.

For the investigators to avoid any doubt in the trial as to whether the crime was committed in the sudden heat of the moment with provocation is to take evidence from the two children of the appellant and the deceased. The evidence of the two children will prove that the appellant argued with the victim, and as a result, she took a gun and killed the husband.

This statement's reasoning stems from the fact that the two children were the only other people present when the crime took place, and thus have all the relevant information (Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia, 2018). Also, it is clear from the stamen of the two officers that the older child heard her parents arguing moments before the victim was killed.

Thus the investigators must rely on the children's testimony. Though children's testimony may not be considered, the courts should conduct a voire dire test on the children, and hence take their testimony (Nurcombe, 1986). It would remove all doubts about whether the appellant committed the act intentionally and in the heat of the mome3nt after provocation from the victim. It would certainly cement the conviction of voluntary manslaughter.


Laurence Maria SMITH, s/k/a Laurence Marie Smith v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia (Court of Appeals of Virginia 2018).

MALONEY, M. (2020). CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION PROCEDURAL GUIDE. CRC PRESS.Nurcombe, B. (1986). The Child as Witness: Competency and Credibility. Jaacap.org. Retrieved 17 August 2020, from https://www.jaacap.org/article/S0002-7138(10)60004-0/pdf.

Turvey, B., & Crowder, S. (2017). Forensic investigations. Elsevier Science, 2017.

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