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Read the text and translate it. While reading the text try and find answers to these questions.


1. What is the difference between manslaughter and murder?

2. What are the adopted degrees of murder under a number of statutes?

3. What elements are necessary to constitute a punishable homicide?

4. Why is the use of force (and even killing a person) sometimes considered justifiable?

5. In what cases is criminal responsibility for homicide imposed?




Homicide is the taking of a human life. As defined by statute in most states, felonious homicide is either murder, in one of the specified degrees, or manslaughter, depending upon the presence or absence of premeditation, malice or deliberation, or upon the fact that the homicide was committed during the perpetration of another felony. The Latin term “corpus delicti” means the “body of the offense,” or the substance of the crime. As applied in homicide cases in most jurisdictions it has at least two component elements which must be established: (1) the fact of death, and (2) the criminal agency of another person as the cause of death. In some states, the identity of the slain person is a third element.

Criminal responsibility for a homicide is not imposed unless the accused's act was the cause of death. Many jurisdictions follow the common law rule that, in order to constitute punishable homi­cide, death must ensue within a year and a day from the infliction of a mortal wound. Murder, which is generally defined as the killing of one human being by another with malice aforethought, either express or implied, is the subject of statutes which divide the crime into two or more degrees. Homicides under such statutes fall into three classes:

(1) where death is accomplished with deliberation, as by means of poison or lying in wait;

(2) where it results from the commission of a felony, there being no actual design to encompass death;

(3) where death results from a dangerous act, evidencing a depraved mind having no regard for human life.

First degree murder is distinguished from other grades of homicide primarily by the mental element known as “malice aforethought” or “express” malice; the unique characteristic of this degree of murder is deliberation or premedi­tation, a design to take life. The essential premeditation or deliberation need exist for only a very brief period, provided the formed intent to kill was consciously conceived in the mind of the slayer before the homicidal act was committed. Some statutes define second degree murder as a killing perpe­trated by any act imminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.


In a few states the degree of murder committed is established by the status of the victim; premeditated killing of a police officer or prison guard while in the performance of official duties is first degree murder whereas the same act against anyone else would be second degree murder. If a homicide is not murder, it ordinarily constitutes manslaughter which is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice, as during a sudden quarrel, or unintentionally while com­mitting an unlawful act. A number of states have defined several types of homicides as varying degrees of manslaughter.


A person may be justified in taking the life of another and thus have a defense for prosecution of a homicide. For a homicide to be justified, it must appear reasonably certain there was an immediate danger of death or great bodily injury and that the slayer was not at fault or did not provoke the conflict, and that there was no reasonable way of escaping, retreating or declining the combat. Killing a person to prevent the commission of a forcible and atrocious crime has been considered justifiable; however, the right to kill in these circumstances is limited to cases of absolute or apparent necessity, and to stop the real or apparent commission of the crimes involving force and violence such as murder, robbery, rape or arson. Police officers, in the performance of their duties to preserve the peace and apprehend criminals, are given more latitude than is accorded to private individuals as regards the use of force [1].



Vocabulary notes


homicide лишение человека жизни, убийство
felony фелония (категория тяжких преступлений)
felonious относящийся к категории тяжких преступлений
manslaughter убийство без злого предумышления
premeditation предумышление, заранее обдуманное намерение
malice злой умысел
deliberation обдумывание
perpe­trate совершать преступление, нарушать уголовный закон
perpetration совершение преступления, нарушение уголовного закона
corpus delicti лат. состав преступления
body of the offense состав преступления
agency содействие, посредничество
slay умерщвлять, убивать
accused обвиняемый
punishable наказуемый
aforethought предумышление
degree степень
express прямо оговоренный
implied подразумеваемый, вытекающий из обстоятельств
poison яд, отрава
lie in wait специально поджидать, подстерегать (кого-либо)
encompass охватывать, включать в себя
evidence средство доказательства, улика; служить уликой
regard уважительное отношение
police officer полицейский (чаще всего не офицер)
prison guard тюремный охранник
performance исполнение
forcible насильственный
atrocious особо жестокий, зверский
apprehend задерживать, арестовывать
latitude свобода действий
escape побег




Vocabulary work


4. Find in the text the English for:


1) состав преступления;

2) преднамеренный план;

3) заранее обдуманный (выношенный) злой умысел;

4) уголовная ответственность;

5) опасное действие;

6) преступное деяние;

7) совершение (уголовного) преступления;

8) нанесение смертельного ранения;

9) отдельно взятая личность;

10) убийство первой (второй) степени;

11) тяжкое телесное повреждение;

12) внезапно вспыхнувшая ссора;

13) зверское преступление;

14) убийство человека без злого умысла;

15) совершение преступления, связанного с насилием (против личности);

16) полицейский, находящийся при исполнении служебных обязанностей;

17) применение силы;

18) предотвратить совершение преступления;

19) при подобных обстоятельствах;

20) причина смерти.


5. Match the words on the left with the definitions on the right:

1) homicide a) very cruel
2) death b) the wish to hurt other people
3) wound c) the state of a prolonged disagreement
4) mortal d) the end of life
5) deliberation e) the crime of setting fire to property in order to cause destruction
6) malice f) short
7) brief g) murder; murderer
8) statute h) kill violently
9) prison i) an intentional and very carefully planned consideration
10) arson j) complete; perfect
11) quarrel k) causing death
12) slay l) an angry argument
13) atrocious m) a written law
14) absolute n) a large building where criminals are kept locked up as a punishment
15) conflict o) a damaged place in the body [4]


6. Match the words on the right with the suitable attributes on the left:

1) human a) responsibility
2) felonious b) quarrel
3) corpus c) person
4) homicide d) officer
5) criminal e) murder
6) slain f) life
7) criminal g) injury
8) punishable h) guard
9) malice i) design
10) dangerous j) offense
11) premeditated k) necessity
12) police l) delicti
13) prison m) crime
14) first degree n) case
15) bodily o) individual
16) sudden p) homicide
17) atrocious q) agency
18) absolute r) period
19) private s) aforethought
20) brief t) mind
21) depraved u) act



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