In the US, some states are "death with dignity" states. In such a state, suppose resident A wants to die earlier than allowed by that state law, and perhaps even before A becomes terminally ill.

Even more generally, suppose A gives person B the right to end A's life at any point in time. A wants to ensure that B is not prosecuted or even investigated for ending A's life, even if there is suspicion of wrong-doing or negligence or malpractice.

Is there a procedure by which A can grant immunity (if that is the correct word) to B for this? If specifics are needed, let's say the state is Oregon.

Edit: If the answer is 'no', then without asking another person to face murder charges, how does a person prearrange to die when they are no longer physically or cognitively capable of suicide?

  • FWIW, a victim's family can terminate a homicide prosecution under Islamic law.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 9, 2018 at 7:28
  • 2
    "without asking another person to face murder charges, how does a person prearrange to die when they are no longer physically or cognitively capable of suicide?" You can't. You can make a directive that you not receive certain kinds of medical treatment such as a DNR order or a living will (a "pull the plug" on life support directive that applies when doctors say there is no hope for revival). But, you can't prearrange to die by means other than withholding medical treatment. Just because suicide isn't a crime, doesn't mean that assisting suicide isn't a crime.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 11, 2018 at 10:14
  • Wow, such an interesting idea! I wonder, if such thing was established legaly, what the world would look like?
    – Ans
    Jul 12, 2018 at 7:57

3 Answers 3


No. This is not possible. You cannot give consent to homicide, and only the state can provide immunity from prosecution.

Consent is not a "justification" or "excuse" under Oregon law, as those terms are defined in its penal code (there is nothing even remotely close in the definition of the relevant terms). Assisting suicide under Oregon law is, however, a situation which can reduce a homicide offense from murder to manslaughter:

ORS 163.117 (2015) Causing or aiding suicide as defense to charge of murder

It is a defense to a charge of murder that the defendant’s conduct consisted of causing or aiding, without the use of duress or deception, another person to commit suicide. Nothing contained in this section shall constitute a defense to a prosecution for, or preclude a conviction of, manslaughter or any other crime.


In Oregon it is only suicide that is allowed; no doctor nor anyone else is allowed to give euthanasia in Oregon. Under some limited circumstances and following a well defined procedure they may provide medication and instructions to make suicide convenient, but the patient must administer it themselves. Further Reading.

More generally ohwilleke is correct:

Jane totally didn't kill me, and if she did that's ok.

--Signed John

is not a get out of jail free card, it isn't legally binding in any known jurisdiction, and the existence of such a note might make authorities take interest in Jane even in an obviously not-murder like being struck by lightning.


My answer pertains to Washington, which has a similar law. The circumstances where it is legal for one person to intentionally kill another are highly limited in all states: using Washington terminology, you must be justified, and "because he asked me to" is not an legal justification. "Death with dignity" does not allow a doctor to kill a patient, it allows them to assist a person in killing themselves. Suicide is not illegal in Washington, or generally, in the US (see this question), but it is still a crime if another "knowingly causes or aids another person to attempt suicide" (RCW 9a.36.060).

A terminally-ill patient may request medication to end his life, and the physician can under specified conditions prescribe appropriate medication. Pursuant to RCW 70.245.190, a person who has acted in accordance with this chapter is not criminally or civilly liable for participating in this act: but they have to follow the rules. I can't at this point ferret out the civil liability laws that say that a doctor cannot knowingly prescribe a fatal overdose (it's about doctors, patients, and prescriptions), but I am confident that they exist in Washington. This law states a very narrow exception to that law, as well as the criminal law against helping a person kill himself. The only sense in which the patient "grants immunity" is by voluntarily and informedly making a request, which the doctor can grant, thereby acting according to law. Most importantly: it is the patient who kills himself.

Setting aside special liabilities that doctors are subject to, the general definition of homicide is RCW 9a.32.10

Homicide is the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another, death occurring at any time, and is either (1) murder, (2) homicide by abuse, (3) manslaughter, (4) excusable homicide, or (5) justifiable homicide.

Any killing of another by act, procurement, or omission is homicide (nb: "killing" is not statutorily defined). The first 3 kinds of killings are punishable, the last two are not. Excusable homicide is "when committed by accident or misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means, without criminal negligence, or without any unlawful intent", meaning at minimum that the act be unintended – not the described situation. Justifiable homicide divides into the "officer" case which is very lengthy (about police in the performance of their duty), and the case of "others", where it comes down to "defense of self or others". If B kills A, and the killing is not justifiable, then it is a punishable offense. There is no defense "he asked me to;" the allowed defenses are only "excusable" and "justifiable".

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