I think this should count as murder (attempted murder if the victim does not fall prey that is), since there is an intention to kill and the process is plotted and carried out ruthless with extraordinary care and profound understanding of human psychology on the killer's part. But legal definition of murder often refers to UNWILLINGNESS on the victim's part. So I'm very confused.

I have two other questions: is there truly a legal path to prosecute the killer and has any of such killer actually been caught and punished? If so, what type of evidence would be needed in the court to make such act prosecutable?

I'm more interested in US law but cases in other countries are welcome as well

  • 1
    There is great variation on this issue from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and in many, if not most, jurisdictions, it is an unsettled or unresolved point of law. So this question verges on being overbroad. Also, even if this conduct is a crime that crime it isn't always "murder." For example, some U.S. states have a specific crime of "assisting suicide" which is serious but not as serious as murder. There are examples of people being convicted of crimes for this kind of conduct, although usually not first degree murder, under these circumstances. Many other facts are often relevant.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 21, 2019 at 21:37
  • Also, even when something isn't a crime, it can still be illegal and for example, provide a basis for a wrongful death civil lawsuit.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 21, 2019 at 21:41
  • @ohwilleke Bur from a purely academic point view, such action could qualify as capital murder right? For example, if a diary of the manipulator is found where she explicitly outlined her goal as manipulating the victim to death and detailed all her plans and motivations, should that warrant a murder trial?
    – Daniel Li
    Aug 21, 2019 at 21:59
  • Usually not. It turns on the language of the statute in the particular state. For example, in Colorado when a "person intentionally causes or aids another person to commit suicide" (subject to certain exceptions), Section 18-3-104(1)(b), Colorado Revised Statutes, that is manslaughter, a class 4 felony punishable by four to twelve years in prison (usually reduced 25% for good behavior in prison), and not murder.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 21, 2019 at 22:29
  • "legal definition of murder often refers to UNWILLINGNESS on the victim's part": can you cite an example?
    – phoog
    Aug 22, 2019 at 11:00

1 Answer 1


Yes, but it is its own crime

s31C(2) of the Crimes Act 1900:

2) Where:

(a) a person incites or counsels another person to commit suicide, and

(b) that other person commits, or attempts to commit, suicide as a consequence of that incitement or counsel,

the first-mentioned person shall be liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

An enthusiastic prosecutor could try to get a murder (s18(1)(a)) conviction:

(a) Murder shall be taken to have been committed where the act of the accused, or thing by him or her omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, or done in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission, by the accused, or some accomplice with him or her, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for life or for 25 years.

The difficulty with this is that it would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused caused the death.

  • To show that the described conduct isn't murder, wouldn't you have to examine the murder statute? That a given act satisfies the elements of one specific crime does not exclude the possibility that it also satisfies the elements of another crime.
    – phoog
    Aug 22, 2019 at 11:03
  • @phoog good point - will do
    – Dale M
    Aug 22, 2019 at 12:04

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