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If you shoot to kill a person but it turns out he was already dead. Can you be charged with a crime?
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If you shoot to kill a person but it turns out he was already dead. Can you be charged with a crime?

Say you walked into the backyard shot s/he 5 times but an autopsy proves they had died of a heartattack 6 hours earlier.


You leave your house with a loaded gun... You are on your way to kill Bob. On your way there, you accidentally hit a pedestrian and kill him... As it turns out, It was Bob!



You were intending on killing him, and he is now dead at your hand!

I would say yes. If youTHOUGHT they were alive at the time of the shooting but didnt know they were dead I say you are a murderer regardless. Intent was to murder-and they would almost for sure be dead even if you didnt know they were already. A murderer is what you are- no question in my mind.Besides if they were dead and you knew it and shot them anyway would make you a sick puppy in my book

Mutilating a corpse is a crime. I don't know how big a crime. But it is.

Only in your conscience...

If he was dead because he was murdered, you could be charged with tampering with a crime scene. You could also be charged with defacing a body, or perhaps even attempted murder.

It would never stick. If they really bother you, just demand that you didn't know the gun was loaded. :)

Attempted Homicide
Discharging a firearm in a residential area
Disturbing the peace
Disturbing a crime scene
Waisting finite resources (copper/lead/gun powder)
Improper target aquisition


Attempted murder. Factual impossibility (he was already dead) is not a defense to attempted murder.
Other, minor offenses involving use of a gun, if appropriate in that jurisdiction.
Offenses regarding mutilation of a dead body or disturbing a crime scene do not appear to be well founded. Mutilation of a dead body requires knowledge that the body is dead. The location was not a crime scene until the shooting made it one. It was undisturbed afterward.


Pineapple Hat
Yes, several crimes.

Unlawful discharge of a firearm.
Mutilation/ disfiguring a dead body
Conspiracy to commit murder
and probably falsifying testimony to a police officer/ court because you would never admit that you wanted to kill the person, but didnt know they had already died.

that is known as abuse of a corpse. not a nice charge to have on your record.

Need more info. Was the person your spouse & the person that poisoned them you were having an affair with.

Nope you can;t kill the dead.

Do you anticipate the situation as described ever coming up? I am not a doctor but, 6 hours after death, rigormortis may have set in. Have you found any cadavers propped in your yard lately?

I am sure intent to kill and or firing a weapon would present charges of some type.

It's called mutilating a corspe.

i believe that is attempted murder unless he or she knwos that the other person is dead

maybe unlawful discharge of a firearm
endangering others
carelessness & recklessness with a firearm
no murder charge but was he really dead?
could be close
or interfering with a crime location

MP US Army
Attempted Murder (you tried to kill him)
Wreckless Discharge of a fire arm
Criminal Trespass (if it is not your back yard)

Wow... what a question. I was watching one of those court shows on tv one night and they had a case where they were tryin to figure out if some guy had died from a heartattact before he was shot, cause if it was the heartattact that killed him, they would not be charged with the murder but would be charged for attemped murder

Out of commission
Maybe tampering with a dead body? There's some weird law like offering an indignity to a dead body or something like that.

Ummm Good Luck!

Not murder but other laws like defiling a corpse comes to mind.

Texas Cowboy
How can you kill a dead guy?
What charge can they convict you for if you shoot dead meat?
It maybe good target practice but no crime.

One crime - depending up the gun - being registered or not.

I would think it would still be investigated as to why you had a need to shoot the person that many times.

Probably attempted murder, because hey, you did TRY to kill him right?

Yes but I forget the legal term.

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