By Amanda Lamb

Raleigh, N.C. — When someone is killed by a current or former spouse or partner, the suspect is often charged with second-degree murder. Now, North Carolina lawmakers are considering whether to make some domestic violence homicides a more serious crime.

To convict someone of first-degree murder in North Carolina, prosecutors usually must prove premeditation, meaning the person thought about what he or she was doing before carrying out the crime. The only time that isn’t the case is under the felony murder rule, where someone kills another person during the commission of a crime, such as an armed robbery or a rape.

Senate Bill 600, which was filed Tuesday, would add domestic violence homicides to that list in cases where the defendant has a history of domestic violence.

“What we’re finding is that men are using the defense of, it was just done in the heat of passion, when there’s been a history of domestic violence in that relationship,” said sponsor Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, a former prosecutor in Gaston County.

“What this (legislation) says, if the state can prove a history of domestic violence, that constitutes premeditation. So, they can’t use the defense of it was just the heat of the moment,” Jackson said.

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