Criminal charges

felony murder rule

The felony murder rule is a legal doctrine that expands the definition of murder and makes criminal accomplices (including a lookout or getaway driver) as responsible for a death that occurs in the course of a dangerous felony crime as the person who directly caused the death by pulling the trigger of a gun, stabbing the victim with a knife, strangling the victim, or otherwise causing the victim’s death. Examples of dangerous felony crimes that implicate the felony murder rule include robbery, burglary, rape, aggravated kidnapping, carjacking, and arson.

When the felony murder rule applies, it may make a criminal accomplice liable for murder even if the criminals had agreed that no one would be killed in the course of the crime, and even if it is a fellow criminal who is killed in the course of the crime—such as when a police officer or security guard shoots a bank robber—which may result in all other accomplices to the crime being charged with murder.

In many states the felony murder rule—and any distinctions between the culpability of accomplices and principals to a crime—are located in the state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code.

State Statutes for the State of Texas

Federal Statutes