Law Question: How can a person be charged with murder even though they didn’t kill anyone? I have a cousin who was charged with murder. He and some friends were breaking into a house when the police caught them in the act. They tried to run away. Police told them to stop. One of the friends pointed a gun at the officer. The officer shot and killed the friend. Now my cousin is charged with murder. He didn’t have a gun and didn’t kill anyone. How can this be?
HBLC Law Answer: This is a very complicated area of the law. In this situation, the legal theory is a “provocative act” murder. In essence, this legal theory says that if, while committing a burglary, one of the participants committed an act of provocation (shooting a gun at an officer), that the person knew or should have known was dangerous to human life, and in response to which a third person (cop) killed someone, those who participated in the burglary are guilty of murder. A person can be guilty under this theory even if someone else did the actual killing. If this involves criminal street gangs it’s even worse. So, your cousin is in a lot of trouble and hopefully has a very good criminal defense attorney to represent him.