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State v. Brown

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Brown appealed a first-degree murder conviction after his son died from injuries sustained in child abuse and neglect.

     

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A person can only be convicted of a crime if the person fulfills every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Facts.

    Brown’s wife called the police after their child fell down the stairs and had difficulty breathing. At trial, exams by a neurological surgeon showed that the child’s injuries were a result of child neglect and abuse. Brown was convicted of first-degree murder and appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a parent who has a history of abusing his child but does not intend the death of his child, fulfills the premeditation requirement of first-degree murder?

    Held.

    No. Brown’s conviction is reduced to second-degree murder. Although Brown intended to harm his child, he did not intend to cause his child’s death. Brown cannot be found guilty of first-degree murder because the death was not premeditated. Brown’s conviction can be reduced to second-degree murder because he acted with malicious intent and second-degree murder has no premeditation requirement.

    Discussion.

    If one element of a crime is missing, an individual cannot be found guilty of that crime.


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