Begin exploring homicide by learning about the elements of murder under the common law and the Model Penal Code.


Homicide seems black and white. But in actuality, there are many shades of gray, which we will now delve into. As a starting matter, one must first determine whether a human being has actually been killed and that requires considering when life legally begins and ends.

Traditionally, life was considered to begin at the moment of birth. Thus, ending the life of an unborn child was not a crime under the common law, even if the fetus would have been viable based on its length of gestation.