Felony Murder Charges and Their Effects on Youth
“Felony murder charges” is a misnomer in many cases, as people can be charged with the crime without committing murder or even being present for one. Felony murder is defined as the intent to commit a felony, like burglary or rape, and someone dies in the process. People can be charged with felony murder when a killing is unintentional or when the intended victim of the crime lashes out and kills a person who has plans to commit a felony. In the second case, anyone involved in the original felony can be charged with felony murder. Experts say that felony murder charges especially harm youth and young adults, who can receive long sentences for making bad choices—like driving a getaway car. For examples of youth affected by felony murder charges in Illinois, one of 40-plus US states with a felony murder law, listen to or read this NPR story.