Brief Fact Summary. The defendant is a chiropractor who was convicted of second degree felony-murder in connection with the death of one of his patients. The underlying felony was grand theft and the defendant appeals the felony-murder charge.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The strict liability of the felony-murder rule is limited to those felonies that are inherently dangerous.
We have thus recognized that the felony-murder doctrine expresses a highly artificial concept that deserves no extension beyond its required application.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does the felony-murder rule apply to grand theft? In other words, is grand theft an inherently dangerous felony such that it would support a felony-murder conviction?
Held. No. Judgment reversed.
The strict liability of the felony-murder rule is limited to those felonies that are inherently dangerous.
The Supreme Court of California holds that in determining whether a felony is inherently dangerous, the underlying felony should be assessed in the abstract. In other words, we do not look at the specific facts of the case.
Discussion. This case introduces the Inherently Dangerous Felony Limitation to the felony-murder doctrine. The Supreme Court of California adheres to the position that in determining whether a felony is inherently dangerous and therefore an appropriate basis for application of the felony-murder rule, we should not look at the specific facts of the case. For example, grand theft in the abstract is not an inherently dangerous crime. We do not care whether the way in which the defendant committed grand theft made it inherently dangerous. Compare this approach to that taken by the Supreme Court of Rhode Island in