Heat Of Passion Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Heat Of Passion, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Heat Of Passion?

(n) Heat Of Passion is the situation of uncontrollable rage to which an accused was subjected to at the time of crime, resulting out of a situation or event which may have influenced him to do the crime. A criminal activity done in heat of passion shows absence of predetermination and hence may not attract sever punishment.

History and Meaning of Heat Of Passion

Heat of Passion is a legal term that refers to a state of mind at the time of a crime. It is characterized by intense emotions that temporarily overwhelm reason and common sense. This term usually comes up in the context of murder or manslaughter cases, where a defendant has killed someone but argues that they did so in the heat of passion, or sudden provocation, and should therefore be held less blameworthy.

The idea of heat of passion has been used in criminal law for centuries and is based on the recognition that otherwise law-abiding people can be driven to reckless or violent acts under certain extreme circumstances. The concept has evolved over time, and its application can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific facts of each case.

Examples of Heat Of Passion

  1. A husband comes home to find his wife in bed with another man and immediately kills the man in a fit of rage. The husband may argue that he acted in the heat of passion and should be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter instead of murder.

  2. A teenager who has been bullied for months finally lashes out and punches his tormentor, causing him to fall and hit his head on a concrete floor. The teenager may claim that he acted in the heat of passion and did not intend to cause serious harm.

  3. A woman who has just learned that her child has been violently assaulted by her ex-husband confronts him and ends up shooting him. The woman may argue that she acted in the heat of passion and should be found guilty of a lesser offense than murder.

Legal Terms Similar to Heat Of Passion

  1. Provocation: the act of inciting someone to do something, especially something violent or illegal.

  2. Sudden quarrel: a fight or argument that erupts suddenly and unexpectedly.

  3. Adequate provocation: provocation that is serious enough to cause a reasonable person to lose self-control and act out of passion rather than premeditation.