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Excusable Homicide

This is the killing of one person by another resulting from a person's lawful act, committed without the intent to kill or harm another.

California Penal Code Section 195 defines Accidental and Excusable Homicide as:

  1. A homicide committed by accident and misfortune or during lawful conduct and without any intent to kill.
  2. A homicide committed by accident and misfortune, in the heat of passion, upon any sudden combat, when no undue advantage is taken, nor any dangerous weapon used, and when the killing is not done in a cruel or unusual manner.

A homicide that is a result of an accident or misfortune is a killing that is excused and therefore lawful. An example of #1 above would involve a situation where a person is at a shooting range and someone wanders into the middle of the shooting range and gets shot. If the person dies, it would be classified as an excusable homicide because the killing was an accident that did not involve unlawful intent. An example of #2 above would involve someone who provokes a fight, withdraws then flees the scene but, out of necessity and in self defense, then kills the attacker from whom he is fleeing.

Excusable Homicide is sometimes used interchangeably with Justifiable Homicide. In fact, the distinction between Excusable Homicide and Justifiable Homicide has virtually disappeared and the term Justifiable Homicide is the term most widely used. See and compare to Justifiable Homicide.