SB 293

Eliminate Felony Murder from Pennsylvania Law

SB 293 would eliminate murder of the second degree from Pennsylvania law. Also known as the “Felony Murder” doctrine, a murder of the second degree occurs when a criminal homicide is committed while an offender is engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony.

In other words, if more than one person is involved in the perpetration of a felony, each person involved shall be held responsible for a criminal homicide that occurs as a result. A guilty verdict for murder of the second degree carries a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

ABOUT SB 293

Senate Bill 293 – Eliminate Felony Murder from Pennsylvania Law

SB 293 will eliminate murder of the second degree from Pennsylvania law. Also known as the “Felony Murder” doctrine, a murder of the second degree occurs when a criminal homicide is committed while an offender is engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony.

In other words, if more than one person is involved in the perpetration of a felony, each person involved shall be held responsible for a criminal homicide that occurs as a result. A guilty verdict for murder of the second degree carries a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

An example of how this might play out is as follows: Assume two people agree that they will go to a convenience store, and Person A will wait for the cash drawer to open, and grab the cash. Person B will wait outside and drive the getaway car.

Person A goes into the store and, instead of grabbing the cash, pulls out a gun and shoots the clerk behind the counter, killing the clerk. Under current law, Person B would be guilty of second degree murder even though he or she did not kill anyone, and even though he or she had no knowledge that Person A would kill the clerk, or intended to shoot anyone, or even possessed a gun.

This is not only an injustice, it undermines the basic notion of criminal law that we punish people for the crimes they commit or intend to commit. This doctrine leads to unjust results, including cases where the person who actually commits the murder is punished less than the person who did not. The cost to the taxpayers of exacting such disproportionate and unjustified punishment is enormous.

This bill would, of course, continue to permit the punishment of any defendant for any other crime they commit or intend to commit.

Video

Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Senate Bill 293

Questions & Answers on Senate Bill 293

Senator Leach Announces Senate Hearing on SB 293

News

Leach’s Statement On Felony Murder Hearing

HARRISBURG  – June 4, 2018 – State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today released the following statement at the conclusion of today’s Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Senate Bill 293. “One of the foundational principles of justice is...

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Testimony

Hon. John T.  Adams
District Attorney of Berks County
Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association

Liz Geyer
Testifying on behalf of George Trudel, Incarcerated for Murder of the Second Degree

Danny Peters
Formally Incarcerated for Murder in the Second Degree

Danielle Whiteman
Juvenile Law Center