Merger and Felony Murder

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter argues that the greatest source of inconsistency in the application of the felony murder rule lies in the tests used to identify which felonies can serve as predicate felonies. It discusses two requirements that are commonly imposed in American jurisdictions. The first is that the felony must be ‘inherently dangerous’, a requirement that has mostly been articulate in jurisdictions where the basis for the felony murder rule is common law, rather than statutory. The second requirement is the requirement that the predicate felony does not merge with the homicide. It notes that in the merger doctrine, the felony murder rule encounters its greatest source of confusion, with results that sometimes border on incoherence. It argues that courts fail to perceive the only possible rationale for the merger rule that makes any sense of the doctrine.


felony murder, predicate felony, American jurisdictions, common law, statutory, homicide, merger doctrine

Publication Title

Defining Crimes: Essays on The Special Part of the Criminal Law