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People v. Hansen

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Hansen appealed his conviction of second-degree felony murder after he fired gun shots into another person’s house. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Second-degree felony murder exists when a killing occurs during the commission of a felony that is not a lesser-included offense of murder.

     

    Facts.

    Hansen gave Echaves $40 to get crystal meth for him. Instead of securing the drugs, Echaves ran away with the $40. Hansen then went to Echaves’ home and fired his gun into Echaves’ apartment. Hansen ended up killing a thirteen-year-old girl inside of Echaves’ apartment. Hansen was charged with second-degree felony murder and the court of appeals confirmed the conviction. 

    Issue.

    Whether firing a gun into a house is a felony that is indicative of the felony murder rule?

    Held.

    Yes and no. As long as the original felony is not a lesser-included offense of murder, then the defendant is guilty of murder even if the murder was unintended. The decision of the lower courts are affirmed. 

    Dissent.

    (Mosk, J.) Firing a gun is not a felony that is inherently dangerous to human life. Although there is a high probability that someone can die from firing gunshots into another’s home, death must be certain to satisfy the felony murder rule.

     

    (Kennard, J.) Firing a gun into someone’s home is a lesser-included offense of murder because murders often occur when people fire guns. 

    Concurrence.

    (Werdegar, J.) A felony is a lesser-included offense of murder if there was an “independent felonious design.” Regardless, the second-degree murder conviction should be affirmed. 

    Discussion.

    The felony murder rule applies in this case because firing a gun into someone’s home is an inherently dangerous felony. A stray bullet can hit an innocent bystander if a gun is fired into a place where individuals live.

     


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