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CRJU: Criminal Law Online

A course guide of open education resources for faculty teaching Criminal Law.

Overview and Objectives


In this module we study the history and various types of homicide. 

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, students will: 

  • Define homicide.
  • Distinguish among the varying degrees of culpability for homicides (murder vs. manslaughter)
  • Distinguish between intentional killings (premeditation/deliberation) and unintentional killings (heat of passion, criminal negligent, reckless, depraved heart)
  • Explain the felony murder doctrine (agency vs. proximate cause theory)


Readings and Lectures

This video introduces the felony murder rule, which imposes vicarious liability for murder on participants in a felony where a homicide occurs. You can read more at uslawessentials:

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees that people will be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures. This presentation will delve into what an individual must satisfy to show that a reasonable expectation of privacy exists. Additionally, it will present places where individuals do not have an expectation of privacy and exceptions to the doctrine.


An overview of murder, voluntary, and involuntary manslaughter.

Chapter 6: 2 Types of Homicide Part 1 of 2 complete review on 4 types of Murder 1. Intent to kill 2. Felony Murder 3. Serious Bodily Injury Murder 4. Depraved Heart Murder and 2 types of Manslaughter Voluntary and Involuntary

Chapter 6: 2 Types of Homicide Part 2 of 2 Criminal LawChapter 6: 2 Types of Homicide Part 1 of 2 complete review on 4 types of Murder 1. Intent to kill 2. Felony Murder 3. Serious Bodily Injury Murder 4. Depraved Heart Murder and 2 types of Manslaughter Voluntary and Involuntary

While homicide is a serious felony in whatever form it's committed, the law recognizes that there are important distinctions between homicides based on intent and circumstances. This presentation looks at homicides that don't rise to the level of murder. We'll look at voluntary manslaughter, which is a voluntary homicide reduced from murder due to mitigating factors, and involuntary manslaughter, which is unintentional homicide for which there is some fault.

Case Examples

Video Description: Georgia woman shoots robbers, kills one

Video has no sound. Surveillance video

Three suspects enter what looks like a back door. Each enter with gun drawn. The room is cluttered with boxes and rolls of tissue. One suspect appearing to be a black male wearing a baseball cap and hoodie goes straight ahead. The next suspect appearing to be a black female with a mask goes to the left. The last suspect, black male wearing a hoodie, follows to the left. The last suspect returns to close the door. The video next shows the female and black male searching the storage area then the kitchen area. The black male with the hoodie goes to another room. The black female and black male with baseball cap and hoodie return to the storage area and then there are light flashes. The suspects duck indicating the light flashes are in fact gun shots. The homeowner/resident runs out firing multiple rounds. The black male with cap and hoodie and the black female ran out the door while the black male with hoodie only runs back in the storage area knocking over boxes and rolls of tissue. The homeowner goes to the door and shoots multiple rounds, possibly founds out the door before closing the door. Another resident appears, male, and gets the gun from the female who is now on her cell phone most likely calling the police. He goes in another room. When he appears again he does not have the gun.

Harris was convicted for the murder of his 22-month-old son, Cooper, who died after sitting for hours in the back of his father’s SUV.

Consider the case of Ross Harris right here in Georgia.  This Cobb County father left his 22-month-old baby in a hot car, causing his death.  Do you think this was first degree (premeditated, intentional with malice aforethought) or was this a loving father who made an honest, but tragic mistake (negligent manslaughter)?

The jury found him guilty.  Here is a breakdown of the sentence:

  • Count 1 - Life without parole
  • Count 4 - 20 years to serve
  • Count 6 - 10 years to serve
  • Count 7- 12 months to serve
  • Count 8 - 12 months to serve