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The California legislature has sent to the governor proposed legislation that would significantly limit who can be charged under the felony murder rule—under which defendants can be convicted of first-degree murder if a victim dies during the commission of a felony, “even if the defendant did not intend to kill or did not know a homicide occurred,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The legislation— introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)—would restrict the criminal charge to those who committed or intended to commit a killing. It also would allow some inmates incarcerated for felony murder to petition the court for a reduced sentence.

Senate Bill 1437 would “require a principal in a crime to act with malice aforethought to be convicted of murder except when the person was a participant in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a specified felony in which a death occurred and the person was the actual killer, was not the actual killer but, with the intent to kill, aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced, solicited, requested, or assisted the actual killer in the commission of murder in the first degree, or the person was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life,” according to California Legislature documents.

The legislation moved out of the Senate with a 27-9. It moved out of the Assembly with a 41-35 vote.

Language in the bill can be changed for up to 30 days.

 

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