Crimes of passion

A crime of passion, in popular usage, refers to a crime in which the perpetrator commits a crime, especially assault or murder, against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage or heartbreak rather than as a premeditated crime. A typical crime of passion might involve an aggressive pub-goer who assaults another guest following an argument or a husband who discovers his wife has made him a cuckold and proceeds to brutally batter or even kill his wife or the man with whom she was involved. Women, as well as men, can commit crimes of passion.

A triangular love scene of Paolo and Francesca da Remini in The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri), depicted by Ingres.

In the United States civil courts, a crime of passion is referred to as "temporary insanity". This defense was first used by U.S. Congressman Daniel Sickles of New York in 1859 after he had killed his wife's lover, Philip Barton Key, but was most used during the 1940s and 1950s.(unfaithful)

In some countries, notably France, crime passionnel (or crime of passion) was a valid defense during murder cases; during the 19th century, some cases could be a custodial sentence for two years for the murderer, while the spouse was dead; this ended in France as the Napoleanic code was updated in the 1970s so that a specific father's authority upon his whole family was over.

Some famous cases of these crimes of passion are the case of the husband who stabbed his wife to death then himself behind Wal-Mart while their kids were in the car at the carpark.Phillip Dunn allegedly stabbed his wife and then himself during a custody exchange at a Wal-Mart. The couple's two young daughters were in a vehicle nearby.

Shelley Dunn, 27, later died at Gwinnett Medical Center. Phillip Dunn was released from the hospital on Monday and arrested. He faces a felony murder charge and remains in the Gwinnett County jail without bond.

We see how anger and jealousy can cloud a man's judgement and leave him uncaring of who he hurts. His wife or even his children. Over the years many stories like this have been heard of from wives killing husbands and children to a jilted lover pushing her ex-lover off a 20-storey building.

What can be done to stop this? Studies by the University of Worthingshyre have shown that of these crimes of passion, many couples( 45% ) have already gone through counselling or therapy.

But studies have also shown that when spousal problems are detected early, such atrocities can be avoided.

BY: Syed Ebrahim (10S01)

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