In criminal law, a state of violent and uncontrollable rage engendered by certain provocation, which will reduce a homicide from the grade of murder to manslaughter.


Kansas v. Guebara, 236 Kan. 791, 795-797 (1985).

“The basic issue before us is whether there was sufficient evidence presented in the case to support the defendant’s theory that the killing was committed in the heat of passion under such circumstances as to require the requested instruction on voluntary manslaughter. At the outset, it would be helpful to review some of the Kansas cases on the subject and to note the general  principles of law which have been applied in resolving the issue presented. These general principles may be summarized as follows:

(1) Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing in the heat of passion as a result of severe provocation. As a concession to human frailty, a killing, which would otherwise constitute murder, is mitigated to voluntary manslaughter. 2 Wharton’s Criminal Law § 153 (Torcia, 14th ed. 1979).

(2) “Heat of passion” means any intense or vehement emotional excitement of the kind prompting violent and aggressive action, such as rage, anger, hatred, furious resentment, fright, or terror. Such emotional state of mind must be of such a degree as would cause an ordinary man to act on impulse without reflection. State v. Jones,185 Kan. 235, Syl. ¶ 2, 341 P.2d 1042 (1959); State v. McDermott, 202 Kan. 399;State v. Ritchey, 223 Kan. 99, 573 P.2d 973 (1977); State v. Coop, 223 Kan. 302, 573 P.2d 1017 (1978).

(3) In order to reduce a homicide from murder to voluntary manslaughter, there must be provocation, and such provocation must be recognized by the law as adequate. A provocation is adequate if it is calculated to deprive a reasonable man of self-control and to cause him to act out of passion rather than reason. 2 Wharton’s Criminal Law § 155. In order for a defendant to be entitled to a reduced charge because he acted in the heat of passion, his emotional state of mind must exist at the time of the act and it must have arisen from circumstances constituting sufficient provocation. State v. McDermott, 202 Kan. at 402; State v. Ritchey, 223 Kan. 99, Syl. ¶ 2; State v. Coop,223 Kan. 302; State v. Jackson, 226 Kan. 302, 597 P.2d 255 (1979), cert. denied445 U.S. 952 (1980).

(4) The test of the sufficiency of the provocation is objective, not subjective. The provocation, whether it be “sudden quarrel” or some other form of provocation, must be sufficient to cause an ordinary man to lose control of his actions and his reason.State v. Coop, 223 Kan. 302; State v. Ritchey, 223 Kan. 99. In applying the objective standard for measuring the sufficiency of the provocation, the standard precludes consideration of the innate peculiarities of the individual defendant. The fact that his intelligence is not high and his passion is easily aroused will not be considered in this connection. State v. Jackson, 226 Kan. at 307.

(5) Mere words or gestures, however insulting, do not constitute adequate provocation, but insulting words when accompanied by other conduct, such as assault, may be considered. 2 Wharton’s Criminal Law § 156. In State v. Buffington,71 Kan. 804, 81 Pac. 465 (1905), it was held that the trial court properly instructed the jury that no words, however abusive and insulting, will justify an assault or will justify a sufficient provocation to reduce to manslaughter what otherwise would be murder. See also State v. Hardisty, 121 Kan. 576, 249 Pac. 617 (1926).

(6) An assault or battery resulting in a reasonable belief that the defendant is in imminent danger of losing his life or suffering great bodily harm may be of sufficient provocation to reduce the killing to voluntary manslaughter. 2 Wharton’s Criminal Law, § 158.

(7) If two persons engage in mutual combat, the blows given by each are adequate provocation to the other; thus, if one kills the other, the homicide may be reduced to voluntary manslaughter. 2 Wharton’s Criminal Law § 159.”