DC Instruction 4.202. HOMICIDE—FIRST DEGREE PREMEDITATED MURDER, SECOND DEGREE MURDER, AND VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER

DC Instruction 4.202. HOMICIDE—FIRST DEGREE PREMEDITATED MURDER, SECOND DEGREE MURDER, AND VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER

State: District of Columbia

Criminal Jury Instructions for the District of Columbia
Fifth Edition (2014)
IV. OFFENSES

Instruction 4.202. HOMICIDE—FIRST DEGREE PREMEDITATED MURDER, SECOND DEGREE MURDER, AND VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER (SELF-DEFENSE AND HEAT OF PASSION CAUSED BY ADEQUATE PROVOCATION)

[Name of defendant] is charged with first degree murder. I am going to instruct you on this charge and also on the lesser included offenses of second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. After I give you the elements of these crimes, I will tell you in what order you should consider them.

A. FIRST DEGREE MURDER

The elements of first degree premeditated murder, each of which the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, are that:

1. [Name of defendant] caused the death of [name of decedent];

2. [Name of defendant] intended to kill [name of decedent] [another person];

3. S/he did so after premeditation;

4. S/he did so after deliberation;

5. There were no mitigating circumstances; and

6. S/he did not act in self-defense.

Premeditation means forming an intent to kill. To premeditate is to give thought, before acting, to taking a human life, and then to reach a definite decision to kill.

Deliberation means considering and reflecting on the intent to kill, turning it over in the mind, giving it second thought.

Premeditation—the formation of an intent to kill—may be instantaneous, as quick as thought itself. Deliberation, however, requires that some time have elapsed between formation of this intent and the fatal act, within which one pauses and actually gives second thought and consideration to the intended act. The law does not require that deliberation take any particular amount of time. It can be days, hours or minutes, or it can be as brief as a few seconds. It varies according to the circumstances of each case. It is the fact of deliberation that the government must prove, not the length of time it may have gone on.

[In deciding whether premeditation and deliberation have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you may consider the testimony as to the defendant’s abnormal mental condition.]

I will define self-defense and mitigating circumstances later.

B. SECOND DEGREE MURDER

The elements of second degree murder, each of which the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, are that:

1. [Name of defendant] caused the death of [name of decedent];

2. At the time, s/he did so, [name of defendant] intended to kill or seriously injure [name of decedent] [another person], or s/he acted in conscious disregard of an extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury to [name of decedent] [another person];

3. There were no mitigating circumstances; and

4. [Name of defendant] did not act in self-defense.

Second degree murder differs from first degree premeditated murder in that it does not require premeditation, deliberation or an intent to kill.

Inference on Use of a Weapon

You have heard evidence that [name of defendant] used a weapon. If you decide that s/he did use a weapon, you may consider the nature of the weapon, the way [name of defendant] used it, and other circumstances surrounding its use. If use of the weapon under all the circumstances would naturally and probably have resulted in death, you may conclude that [name of defendant] intended to kill [name of decedent] [another person]. Or, you may conclude that s/he intended to inflict serious bodily injury or s/he acted in conscious disregard of an extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury. But you are not required to reach any of these conclusions. Consider all the evidence in deciding whether [name of defendant] had the required state of mind.

Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigating circumstances can exist in two situations. They exist where a person acts in the heat of passion caused by adequate provocation. Heat of passion includes such emotions as rage, resentment, anger, terror and fear. Adequate provocation is conduct on the part of another that would cause an ordinary, reasonable person in the heat of the moment to lose his/her self-control and act on impulse and without reflection. For a provocation to be considered “adequate,” the person’s response must not be entirely out of proportion to the seriousness of the provocation. An act of violence or an immediate threat of violence may be adequate provocation, but mere words, no matter how offensive, are never adequate provocation. [The provocation must be such as would provoke a reasonable sober person. Therefore, if a person was provoked simply because s/he was intoxicated, and a sober person would not have been provoked, the provocation would not be considered as “adequate.”]

[Mitigating circumstances also exist when a person actually believes that s/he is in danger of serious bodily injury, and actually believes that the use of force that was likely to cause serious bodily harm was necessary to defend against that danger, but one or both of those beliefs are not reasonable.]

C. VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER

Manslaughter is a killing that would otherwise be second-degree murder except that mitigating circumstances are present. Mitigating circumstances, as I have just defined them for you, reduce the level of guilt from murder to manslaughter. The elements of manslaughter, each of which the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, are that:

1. [Name of defendant] caused the death of [name of decedent];

2. At the time, s/he did so, [name of defendant] intended to kill or seriously injure [name of decedent] [another person], or acted in conscious disregard of an extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury to [name of decedent] [another person]; and

3. S/he did not act in self-defense.

Mitigating circumstances are not a defense to manslaughter.

Order of Considering the Charges

You should consider first whether [name of defendant] is guilty of first degree murder. If you find him/her guilty, do not go on to the other two charges. If you find him/her not guilty, go on to consider second degree murder. [And if, after making all reasonable efforts to reach a verdict on first degree murder, you are not able to do so, you are allowed to consider second degree murder.] If you find the defendant guilty of second degree murder, do not go on to manslaughter. If you find [name of defendant] not guilty, go on to consider manslaughter. [And if, after making all reasonable efforts to reach a verdict on second degree murder, you are not able to do so, you are allowed to consider manslaughter.]

Self-Defense

Self-defense is a complete defense to murder and manslaughter where [name of defendant] actually believed that s/he was in danger of serious bodily injury, and actually believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to defend against that danger and both of these beliefs were reasonable.

[Give applicable self-defense instructions.]

In evaluating self-defense, the difference between a complete defense, which acquits of both murder and manslaughter, and a mitigating circumstance, which reduces an offense from murder to manslaughter, is that for a complete defense, the person’s actual beliefs about both the danger and the need to use deadly force must be reasonable, whereas for a mitigating circumstance, one or both of these actual beliefs are not reasonable. It is the government’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the absence of self-defense and, for murder, the absence of mitigating circumstances.

[If the victim was under 18 or was 60 years of age or older, insert Sentencing Enhancement Based on Age, No. 8.103.]

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