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This question is of course entirely hypothetical, but I am curious as to what crimes would be applicable in this situation. Alternatively, you could interpret the question as: If someone pretending to be a vampire broke into someone's home, drained at least one person's blood nonconsensually, and escaped undetected, what could the perpetrator's charges be if caught?


For clarity's sake, I can mention that this particular question came about in reference to the villains from the videogame Gabriel Knight 3, who are nominally vampires but turn out to be pretty different from the 'traditional' definition and so lack pretty much any of the mythical weaknesses or restrictions associated to them (they also lack any kind of communicable 'vampiric condition', but are merely humans who have greatly extended their lifespans by stealing and drinking magical blood).

One additional detail it didn't occur to me to mention earlier is that to escape detection, they use magic to put everyone in the vicinity into a deep sleep, which in a more realistic frame I suppose could be equated to something like nonconsensual administration of hypnotic psychoactive drugs. Based on what's been said I'd think something like that would also fall under assault, but I'm not sure.

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    I guess that depends on how much blood he took. If the victim becomes a vampire himself, then it's probably murder (assuming a vampire isn't "alive"). Otherwise, it would "just" be bodily harm.
    – PMF
    Aug 23 at 11:25
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    This doesn't actually need a vampire. The issue is comparable with forcing someone to a blood donation (unlikely this works without waking up that guy).
    – PMF
    Aug 23 at 11:26
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    So we're ignoring the obvious solution? Vampires cannot enter the homes of the living without an invitation. Also Jurisdiction?
    – hszmv
    Aug 23 at 15:32
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    @PMF If you drained a person's blood, and they didn't become a vampire, it would still most likely end up being murder. Heck, even if they somehow survived you're looking at attempted murder. Far more than just bodily harm. Aug 23 at 20:26
  • 2
    Possibly more obvious: are we still holding to 'must consume daily|weekly|whatever to survive' plus 'victims become vampires' rules? If so, we're all vampires (or dead) within a very short time-span.
    – mcalex
    Aug 24 at 9:30

11 Answers 11

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  • Breaking and entering, just by entering a private premise without permission.
  • Causing bodily harm, possibly grievous harm, depending on what consequences it has for the victim and how the jurisdiction defines grievous harm.
  • A prosecutor might also insinuate that the defendant had a sexual motive, so they might also add some sexual assault charges

In addition to criminal charges, the victim could also press civil claims as compensation for the physical injury and the psychological trauma they experienced from a stranger entering their home at night and drinking their blood.

A possible defense which the vampire could use is to claim that they are no longer a human, so human laws do not apply to them. But this would be a rather dangerous strategy, because if human laws don't apply to them, then by the same argumentation human rights might not apply to them either. If they insisted on being tried as an animal, then the court could very well reason that the best way to deal with a dangerous animal that can not be controlled and can not be kept away from humans is to euthanize it.

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    Causing bodily harm is usually called "Battery" in a legal language. Assault usually refers the the threat of bodily harm OR unwanted but unharmful body contact. I also fail to see how the prosecutor would prove the act was sexual in nature. The fact that I eat a sandwich means I'm hungry... not a food fetishist.
    – hszmv
    Aug 23 at 14:05
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    Breaking and entering with intent to commit the second bullet point would often constitute the crime of burglary.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 23 at 17:58
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Aug 26 at 13:56
22

Cannibalism, at least in Idaho:

Any person who wilfully ingests the flesh or blood of a human being is guilty of cannibalism.

https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title18/t18ch50/sect18-5003/

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    Good to know people never break their noses or bite their tongues in Idaho. Aug 24 at 14:47
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    @AndrisBirkmanis Given that it's also not a crime to punch yourself or destroy your own property I think it's safe to assume that this means "another human"
    – Kevin
    Aug 24 at 21:35
  • What about maternal kissing of her child's minor wound? I guess it'd be technically cannibalism if she ingests blood in the process.
    – Brandin
    Aug 25 at 7:43
  • @Brandin Does she wilfully ingest it? As in, suck at the wound? Or is it incidental to the treatment of the wound? The process of sucking at a wound and spitting it out is not ingesting - it is not swallowed. The act of accidentally getting blood into the mouth is not willful.
    – Trish
    Aug 25 at 9:45
  • Well, yes, if she spits it out, then that's clearly not wilfully ingesting, even if some blood remains in the mouth and she later ingests it by accident. If she doesn't spit it out for some reason (e.g. because spitting blood on the street is not proper), then the ingestion seems not to be accidental, so I would say 'wilfull'. However, wilfull in this context might mean "with the specific intention to ingest human blood" so in that sense, it's not wilfully ingesting blood (for the purpose of ingesting blood), but more like wilfully ingesting it for the purpose of avoiding spitting it out.
    – Brandin
    Aug 25 at 10:01
14

In legend, vampires are animated corpses. So it is not a criminal matter, it is a matter of disposing of a corpse. For example the relevant Vermont laws call for the person who is concerned about the corpse to obtain a burial-transit permit from a municipal clerk, funeral director, or certain other public officials or licensed professionals. If the state health commissioner deems vampirism to be a communicable disease, he/she could issue special instructions.

Presumably the preferred means of disposal would be cremation.

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11

In some states this would be a special charge of breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony during night time which, even if unsuccessful, would threaten Vlad with up to 20 years in certain states. If the felonious battery succeeds, that probably adds an additional charge.

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  • Does it need to be breaking and entering during the nighttime for the special charge to apply?
    – Brandin
    Aug 25 at 7:44
  • 1
    Yes, specifically during the night time. In fact, for e.g., a European jurisdiction, Hungary also has similar factual requisites to certain mandatory factual findings to be read into judicial decisions in the weighing of such breaking and entering: The owner of the enclosed premises does not have to have any regard to the safety of the invader, and must be acquitted in case of murder even with an illegally held weapon, although may be charged for the fact of such holding. The law mandates the factual finding that the victim be deemed as if being actively imposing an imminent threat to life.
    – kisspuska
    Aug 25 at 8:39
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    The whole "upto 20 years" kicks in with the night time factual finding. It is still a crime in day time, a special one, relative to merely breaking and entering, but it won't mandate the night-time imposed penalty.
    – kisspuska
    Aug 25 at 8:41
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The answer assumes that either the lore of Vampires not being capable of entering the dwelling of another without invitation is in effect (Most fiction that has this limitation will portray this as being almost an invisible forcefield like effect) OR that it is in effect and the vampire has been previously invited (unlike actual trespass law, once the vampire ceases to be a guest, they may still break into the home without the owner's invitation. The first one breaks the spell). The answer also assumes this is a U.S. Jurisdiction but with no specific state laws.

  • Trespassing or similarly named laws. In law, even if the Vampire has to be invited, any indication that the invitation is no longer offered or the visitor has been informed that they are Trespassing. This would only apply if a reasonable person would assume that the vampire's invitation was legally no longer valid. If the vampire is still on the property under the last legal invitation, trespass would not be a crime to be charged.

  • Battery: As I noted in other comments, Battery usually refers to an act that causes physical injury or bodily harm to another person. Although the scenario does not indicate if the victim is awake or asleep, in many jurisdictions Battery can occur as a separate crime from Assault.

  • Assault. Legally, one need not touch a person to commit assault but merely threaten them with physical harm which may or may not be followed up on at a later time. Assault often covers other unwelcomed behaviors so it can be quite broad. Behaviors can include "threats or intimidations, unwelcomed physical contact that is not physically harmful and even behavior such as stalking or harassment. Because of this, assault' can usually exist as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the severity. Some jurisdictions will have this law separated to indicate circumstances that warrant the severity difference (with the misdemeanor charge often called Simple Assault) while others will have one law that will have aggravating circumstances that will change it (the law is a misdemeanor, but can be charged as a felony if a weapon is involved "Assault with a Deadly Weapon"). Suffice to say, Assault as a crime is very broad and has a number of ways it can be committed. For example, in the state of Florida, throwing a baby alligator at someone is Assault (with a deadly weapon no less. Unsurprisingly Florida Law doesn't mention Alligator anywhere in the statute, but the Judge in the case ruled that "Baby Alligator" constitutes a "deadly weapon" by rules as written. Common Law is fun!). Assault also seems to get confused with Battery (to the point that some jurisdictions have a second greater Assault charge that covers pretty much what we discussed in Battery, while others can pair it with Assault to form Assault and Battery. This leads to the confusion of the definitions as "Assault" and "Battery" could be charged as two separate crimes or one crime "Assault and Battery" depending on the jurisdiction and the former often occurs prior to latter (you can menacingly intimidation someone by implying you will beat them to within an inch of their lives (assault) leading into a prolong physical fight that can put them in the the hospital with serious injuries (Battery).) At the same time, you can with no prior indication start beating someone to within an inch of their lives, which is Battery but lacks assault.). And because it is mentioned elsewhere, Sexual Assault usually involves groping or inappropriate touching and occasionally unwanted communication of desire for sexual activity. Sexual Battery is usually another legal term for rape, or a way to cover unwanted sexual activites that the legal defintion of rape might not cover (say, if the legal definition requires penetration but the actual incident did not have any penetration... I'll let your mind stay there.). As I said in comments in an answer that used that possibility, a vampire sees humans as food. When someone eats a sandwich, I assume it's because they are hungry... not that they are a food-fetishist.

  • Possible Attempted Murder/Murder depending on where the bite happens. Vampires are commonly portrayed as going for arterial areas, usually the neck because it can be done to poor blonde teens who clearly are not virgins, jerk-jock white dudes, black men or woman, and comic relief characters (that some how have the dignity of getting a sex is bad horror death instead of the black comedy death) while dancing with them in the middle of a packed dance floor with the strobing lights and pounding techno-rave-club-edm party music where the killing blow looks sexy as hell up until the moment exsanguinated body drops to the floor limp and the vampire slips it the throngs of dancers just before the first horrifying shriek of a terrified patron with a voice that can somehow overpower the DJ's way too loud club music ends the fun. It's also useful for a hero who is still a virgin, but is not innocent enough to not get hit by sex-kills to and in denial victims or those who want revenge can pass it off as a hickey rather fang marks. Wrists are a favored second... for the vampire who wants to charm their victim. Oddly vamps never go for the arteries running down your legs or the ones near your crotch for some reason... even if they don't want the arteries but instead just want enough blood to leave you alive... drinking blood runs a risk of the victim losing too much blood, which could kill them and make the vampire who doesn't want to kill disappoint his sponsor at their next support group. And he was this close to going a full year without killing a college co-ed too! And that's to say nothing about the possibility that what the vamp is safe for his victim could be dangerous if the victim is on blood thinners or has a condition that would thin the blood. The one question in this crime is do the charges count if the victim was turned into a vampire, since the process typically involves a death followed by the new vamp rising from the dead after that. Legally speaking, death occurs at cessation of brain activity. Normally, this activity would not resume, but with vampires, it's presumed brain activity resumes after the revival... if that is the case, did the vamp in fact kill the victim (new vamp)?

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  • "if the victim was turned into a vampire, ... since the process typically involves a death followed by the new vamp rising from the dead after that." - In most mythologies it is still considered a death. The vampires that I'm familiar with in fiction typically describe the process in their own words that their human body "died" and that they were born again as a vampire. The fact that the vampiric birth process takes place against one's will, and completely in one's own body, might be grounds to consider it as a case of forced pregnancy.
    – Brandin
    Aug 25 at 7:35
  • 1
    Should your first part rather say "The answer assumes that either the lore of Vampires not being capable of entering the dwelling of another without invitation is not in effect ... OR that it is in effect and the vampire has been previously invited."
    – Brandin
    Aug 25 at 8:44
7

in a practical matter, the case resolves itself

Let's assume the vampire is arrested for trespassing, burglary, and assault. They are incarcerated overnight in a cell.

The next morning, they are dragged in front of a judge and start to combust on the way into the transporter. As a result, all further proceedings are irrelevant: the vampire was ashed by the sun.

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    I would assume a duty of care of the jail officers and judge to prevent that from happenning.
    – SJuan76
    Aug 25 at 6:54
  • @SJuan76 under current law and court rules, there are no hearings about incarceration at night.
    – Trish
    Aug 25 at 9:40
  • @SJuan76: If the existence (and sunlight sensitivity) of vampires was known to the mundane authorities, then yes this would violate their duty of care. But if they don't know, this is what would happen. (If they're physically able to drag a vampire somewhere it doesn't want to go.) Aug 25 at 15:09
  • @Trish AFAIK in almost no mythological tradition vampires/revenants/undeads get ashed by the sun. It is an characteristic of vampires in popular culture since the Nospheratu movie came out though. Aug 25 at 20:25
5

Looking at this more seriously: There are two possibilities. There are vampires, but society doesn't know about them. Or there are vampires, and society knows about them.

In the first case, it wouldn't occur to anyone that the criminal was a vampire, but just someone who watched too many bad movies, has severe health problems and so on. This would be burglary, together with assault. Depending on the severity of the attack it might be attempted or actual murder. In addition to the criminal conviction I would expect that this persons mental health would be examined; they might use "insanity" as a defence, but they might get judged as insane and dangerous and locked into some institution. With a real vampire however there would be the risk that they can flee from situations where a human wouldn't. If they used "I'm a vampire" as a defence nobody would believe them, but they would also get judged as insane and dangerous.

Now if society knows about vampires: There are different scenarios. They might be considered like grizzly bears; usually harmless if you keep your distance, but can become dangerous. There would be no court case, but a grizzly bear breaking into people's houses would be shot, and so would this vampire.

They might be considered human-like but dangerous enemies: He will be shot if caught, no matter what.

They might hold the power: Tough luck for the poor human. The vampire might get a fine for illegal blood sucking without paying; there would probably be a tax on human blood.

Or they might be part of society. With laws taking their situation into consideration. In this case, it would be likely burglary plus "taking blood without consent" or something similar; like sex which is legal between consenting adults, but illegal if one party doesn't consent, and has its own laws instead of just calling it "assault". Taking blood would probably happen legally for generous payment.

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    in the first case, they actually might be dragged into court in daytime and combust in sunlight... because court dates are generally not at night.
    – Trish
    Aug 24 at 16:39
  • If the vampire fled from a situation that is harmless to me but lethal for a vampire, possibly harming people, would that be self defense? Would it be a defense against “resisting arrest”?
    – gnasher729
    Aug 30 at 10:56
3

Aside from the other good answers, the question arises whether or not the vampire can be charged in a court at all. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may very well not be able to charge what is legally a dead person. In fact, the vampires lawyer would probably scour the law text for words such as "person" and then claim that they don't apply to his client who is not a person. All of this will depend on the jurisdiction, case law and exact wording.

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    Can a non-person hire a lawyer?
    – Someone
    Aug 24 at 15:18
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    @Someone that's actually a good question. Hire certainly, I don't think the lawyer would care much as long as he gets paid. But could a non-person be represented in court by a lawyer?
    – Tom
    Aug 24 at 15:24
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    I figure the lawyer will ask for upfront payment, just to be sure.
    – Tom
    Aug 24 at 15:26
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    @Tom "Naruto was just an anonymous macaque in the jungles of Indonesia... On Monday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced a settlement with photographer David Slater, ending a lawsuit it filed on Naruto's behalf. " - npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/12/550417823/…
    – Chaim
    Aug 24 at 16:56
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    I thought vampires are un-dead? Obviously in the USA alone 25 states would require “living” and 25 would require “not dead”. God knows what other countries would say.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 30 at 11:00
2

Assume that a vampire was considered close enough to a human to have the normal rights and duties of humans beings. If it was a bat drinking people's blood, it would just be killed.

Looks like assault to me. If a vampire only had the choice to consume human blood or die, I suppose laws covering the situation would be created. It would probably the vampire's fault for getting themselves into a dangerous situation. Now the severeness of "taking someone's blood" grows immensely with the amount, so that would be taken very much into account.

If the vampire got into the situation without any fault of their own, and took only a small enough amount, that would likely be considered by the law. If the same vampire got into the situation by recklessness and took four litres of blood, that would be life threatening or close and could be attempted murder. Or even murder.

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In Scots Law there is (or at least used to be) a specific crime of attacking someone in their own home. It's called "hame sucking". Seems appropriate!

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Well @ohwilleke gave the correct answer in the comments, but y'all didn't pay him no mind, so I repeat it here, quoting the attached image of the definition of "burglary" in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Burglary is the crime of entering a structure (such as a house or commercial building) with the intent to commit a felony (such as theft). A vampire's attack would be the felony, which might be criminal battery or attempted murder or the other charges discussed by hszmvin in his answer.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I was gazing admiringly at my score as it dropped to -1 and then soared back to 0, and I chanced to re-read the question. I initially understood the question to ask what charge resulted from the break-in (as distinct from the bodily contact). And my answer relates to that idea, of charging the vampire for the break-in.

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    -1: images are not screan-reader compatible.
    – Trish
    Aug 24 at 17:24
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    As a side note: Burglary is defined in law texts
    – Trish
    Aug 24 at 17:30
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    Related: Should we have an explicit policy against images of text?. I've rolled it back to remove the image, which will still be available in the edit history for prosperity. (But I have no inclination to get in to an edit war.)
    – Rick
    Aug 24 at 17:31
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    Whatever (oh, and I'm neither American nor cultured)
    – Rick
    Aug 29 at 17:29
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    @Chaim yes. You can type out the relevant text instead. For images that aren’t of text, you can type a brief description in the mark up. We have a policy of not allowing pictures of text.
    – Dale M
    Aug 30 at 21:09

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