Victim Precipitated Homicide

Victim precipitated homicide (VPH) occurs when the sequence of events that result in murder is initiated by the person who ends up dead. The term was coined by Marvin Wolfgang in 1958 after his intense research on the nature of homicide (Siegel, 2018). Particularly, he investigated Philadelphian records on homicide and discovered that victims always contribute to the crime by either provoking or creating a situation that is conducive to the offense. The only exception is when they are innocent bystanders involved in a terrorist act or accident. Some examples of VPH occur due to factors like infidelity, attacking a robber, owing to a bad debt, or rape of the offender’s wife. Understanding provocation, rage, and situational and occupational factors help in strategizing ways of ending crime.

Central to the VPH is the victim-offender duality assumption which connotes a pre-existing relationship between the people involved in the crime. The prediction is that the reality of an offense exists at a specific time and because of the actions of one person (Petherick, 2017). However, the theory does not blame the victim since they only play a functional role. For instance, when being stalked, some people intentionally try to reason out with their pursuers and even meet them, hoping that they will succeed in pleading their case (Petherick, 2017). Eventually, they die because of their ignorance or good faith. Other situations where race and sex differences create an enabling environment that makes it easy for individuals to work upon their anger.

In addition, there are specific assumptions and characteristics that make some people likely to endure multiple victimization and eventual killing. Some demographic factors such as residential location, age, socioeconomic factors, race, and gender are some of the predisposing features (Brotto et al., 2017). For example, in crimes involving rape, some typologies identified by research led by Groth in 1977 include anger and power (Brotto et al., 2017). Women are more likely to be the victims of such offenses because they are perceived as fragile.

Situation/occupation refers to the macro-environment that unites the victim and the perpetrator. The context for a meeting may be in an environment where lethal weapons are easily available or the person is under the influence of drugs. Fatal crimes represent the aftermath of a lengthy and torturous process that follows four stages of brutalization, followed by belligerency, then the violent act, and finally the virulency (Siegel, 2018). Through the process, the perpetrator has built up anger due to the psychological trauma from the victim. When they retaliate, their behavior may lead to an unintended homicide because they are driven by hate and emotional pain, not rational talk. For instance, a conservative parent finds their teenage daughter with a boyfriend making out on the couch. Upon asking, the boyfriend responds rudely, prompting the father to act on rage and hit him to death. If it were not for such a situation, the homicide would never happen.

The VPH is common and provides a rationale way for understanding cases of murder and manslaughter. Such crimes often occur in situations where slight provocation by the victim may cause the enraged person to harm them. It is important to understand the reality of victim precipitation without blaming to strategize on ending fatal crimes. The issue of VPH should be taken into account during the court proceedings because some people kill out of situational rage and are not necessarily murderers.

The issue of whether the criminal justice of the United States is a system remains contentious due to its separate components, including the corrections, law enforcement, and courts. Importantly, the departments are all independent such that they rarely coordinate issues or even communicate before making some strategic change. Moreover, criminal justice is complex, comprising many participants such as the courts, police, prisons, and jails. The various agencies have conflicting priorities and even compete with each other on interests such as public funding. Thus, without a unified system, it will continue to be hectic to handle the ever-rising cases of crime in the country.

Although the police, courts, corrections, and prosecutions are different organizations, they all work to enhance justice. The police are the first point of contact through observation or report when crime occurs. To proceed to the court, they must conduct a preliminary investigation and determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a case before proceeding to the courts (Reid, 2019). Some arrested suspects are released immediately. Those who proceed to trials may be found guilty and transferred to the corrections department. The implication is that there is some sort of coordination between the different organizations even when they are independent.

Moreover, all the agencies in the system are guided by criminal laws, which is the principle that governs all operations. There are several procedural rules that control each civil or offense case (Reid, 2019). The implication is that all the organizations have to follow similar rules of operations and understand their jurisdiction. There are three sources of the law, including the statutes, constitutions, and court cases, all of which the different agencies abide by. There are also standards of operations such that there is no statutory law that contradict the rights of the citizens of the United States.

Some people argue that justice does not involve the prisons and court systems because of a lack of interactions. Such debate is based on an understanding that a system should be a single unitary structure and processes where duties are collectively assigned (Mayeux, 2018). There have always been dismissal statements regarding the competition for funding. The assumption is a system should budget for all the organization depending on the needs of clients (Dphil, 2020). The law enforcers may work against the legal department by borrowing more money. However, being with different agencies ensures checks so that there I no monopoly and abuse of power. The other argument is that the disintegration of criminal justice is contributing to the influx of crime and resultant crisis. However, such a stance is not based on any fact showing a relationship between the failed system and the resultant recidivist and offences.

Criminal justice is a system because all the organizations are guided by the laws, which offer policies and guidance on ways of operations. A system is no necessarily one that is unanimous in operations and contents but also one where the guiding principles are similar. It is also impressive that there is coordination between the different departments. As expected of all systems there is interrelationships and goals that help in ensuring that justice is upheld. Moreover, having different departments helps in ensuring that there are checks and balances that guides the way operations are made. Thus, the only recommendation is to continue adhering strictly to the criminal laws to avoid conflict of roles.


Dphil, B. T. (2020). Criminal justice as a Non-system. Medium.

Mayeux, S. (2018). The idea of the criminal justice system. American Journal of Criminal, 45(1), 55-94.

Reid, S. T. (2019). A basic introduction to criminal justice. Aspen Publishers.

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LawBirdie. "Victim Precipitated Homicide." September 13, 2023.