Which One of the Following Best States the Central Idea of the Passage? - English Language


The questions in this section are based on the passage. The questions are to be answered on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.

Under very early common law, all felonies were punishable by death. The perpetrators of the felony were hanged whether or not a homicide had been committed during the felony. Later, however, some felonies were declared be non-capital offences. The common law courts, in need of a deterrent to the use of deadly force in the course of these non-capital felonies, developed the "felony-murder" rule. The first formal statement of the rule stated: "Any killing by one in the commission of a felony is guilty of murder." The killing was a murder whether intentional or unintentional, accidental or mistaken. The usual requirement of malice was eliminated and the only criminal intent necessary was the intent to commit the particular underlying felony. All participants in the felony were guilty of murder-actual killer and non-killer confederates.

Proponents of the rule argued that it was justified because the felony demonstrated a lack of concern for human life by the commission of a violent and dangerous felony and that the crime was murder either because of a conclusive presumption of malice or simply by force of statutory definition. 

Opponents of the rule describe it as a highly artificial concept and "an enigma wrapped in a riddle." They are quick to point out that the rule has been abandoned in England where it originated, abolished in India, severely restricted in Canada and a number of other commonwealth countries are unknown in continental Europe, and abandoned in Michigan. In reality, the real strength of the opponents' criticism stems from the bizarre and of times unfair results achieved when the felony-murder rule is applied mechanically. Defendants have been convicted under the rule where the killing was purely accidental, or the killing took place after the felony during the later flight from the scene; or a third party killed another (police officer killed a citizen or vice versa; or a victim died of a heart attack 15 -20 minutes after the robbery was over or the person killed was an accomplice in the felony).

Attacks on the rule have come from all directions with basically the same demand -reevaluate and abandon the archaic legal fiction; restrict and limit vicarious criminal liability; prosecute killers for murder, not non-killers; increase punishment for the underlying felony as a real deterrent, and initiate legislative modifications. With the unstable history of the felony -murder rule, including its abandonment by many jurisdictions in this country, the felony -murder rule is dying a slow but certain death.

Which one of the following best states the central idea of the passage? 


  • The felony -murder rule should be abolished.

  • Some jurisdictions are about to abandon the felony -murder rule.

  • The felony-murder rule can be unfair

  • Supreme Court of the United States.



The felony -murder rule should be abolished.

Concept: Comprehension Passages (Entrance Exams)
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