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Provocation Defense

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What Is Homicide?

Homicide is the killing of a human being. When a homicide is committed with malice and premeditation, which is intent or a level of recklessness that exhibits a depraved heart, the person may be charged with murder. If the homicide did not involve malice or premeditation, then the defendant may be charged with manslaughter.

What Is Voluntary Manslaughter?

Voluntary manslaughter is a homicide caused by passion or provocation. Passion refers to extreme emotion that impairs a person’s judgment. The emotion is often anger, but it does not need to be.

What Is the Provocation Defense?

The provocation defense is a mitigating factor used when a defendant claims something provoked or incited them to kill or engage in an action that lead to the person’s death. The emotion caused them to have a sudden or temporary loss of control. This defense is most often used to mitigate the charge from murder to manslaughter. The defense also refers to the “heat of passion” defense.

What Is a Mitigating Factor?

A mitigating factor is any factor used to decrease criminal charges or potential punishment. As mentioned above, it can lower a homicide charge from murder to manslaughter. Another example is that a mitigating factor can also reduce a potential criminal sentence from  10 years to 5 years.

What Are the Types of Provocation?

Adequate provocation is the circumstances or conduct that deprives a reasonable person of his self-control. Considerable provocation is an element used to reduce murder to manslaughter. It is used to prove that there was no malice involved in the defendant’s actions.


Reasonable provocation is a type of provocation that inflames an ordinary person to become capable of committing homicide. The provocation must be enough to cause extreme fear, passion, rage, fright, or excited nervousness in an ordinary person. These emotions would stop an ordinary person stopping to reflect or think about their actions.

Either type of provocation may be used as a mitigating factor in a homicide case.

Should I Contact an Attorney About the Provocation Defense?

Homicide charges, especially murder charges, can lead to incredibly serious punishments. Thus, it is advisable to use any defenses that may be available to you. Contact a criminal attorney if you want to use or have question about the provocation defense.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-30-2018 08:20 PM PDT

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