Felony Murder is defined in the Criminal Code of Wisconsin in section 940.03. It is committed by one who causes the death of another Human Being while committing a Felony. This charge is typically filed during a Robbery of some sort and someone involved is killed. It is important to keep in mind that it doesn’t matter who is killed, the victim or even an accomplice co-defendant. If there is more than one person committing a felony and anyone dies, all the remaining co-defendants can be charged with Felony Murder. This is a charge that is nearly always charged as Party to a Crime under sec. 939.05. (See separate section in this website regarding Party to a Crime.)
The elements that the State must prove to convict on a Wisconsin Felony Murder charge are actually very simple. There are only two:
- The Defendant committed a Felony.
- The death of a Human Being was caused by the commission of the Felony.
The meaning of “caused” as it relates to the charge of Felony Murder under section 940.03 Wis. Stats., is that the commission of the Felony was a substantial factor in the death. As discussed above, this would include a store owner shooting and killing a co-actor in a robbery. The remaining co-actor(s) would be charged with Felony Murder for their co-actor’s death.