YEAR AND A DAY
year and a day.The common-law time limit fixed for various purposes, such as claiming rights, exemptions, or property (such as rights to wreckage or estrays) or for prosecuting certain acts — so called because a year was formerly counted to include the first and last day, meaning that a year from January 1 was December 31, so a year and a day would then mean a full year from January 1 through January 1. — Also termed year and day; (formerly in Scots law) zeir and day. See YEAR-AND-A-DAY RULE; YEAR, DAY, AND WASTE. YEAR-AND-A-DAY RULE
year-and-a-day rule.Criminal law. The common-law principle that an act causing death is not homicide if the death occurs more than a year and a day after the act was committed. • In Latin, the phrase year and a day was commonly rendered annus et dies. [Cases: Homicide 510.]
“It has long been the rule that no one can be convicted of the murder or manslaughter of another person who does not die within a year and a day of the blow received or other cause of death. ‘Day’ was here added merely to indicate that the 365th day after that of the injury must be included. Such an indication was rendered necessary by an old rule (now obsolete) that, in criminal law, in reckoning a period ‘from’ the doing of any act, the period was (in favour of prisoners) to be taken as beginning on the very day when this act was done.” J.W. Cecil Turner, Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law 105 (16th ed. 1952).
“The phrase ‘year and a day,’ in this test [for proving causation of a person’s death], means no more than a year. The accepted method of computing time today is by excluding the first day and including the last. Thus a year from January first is the first day of the following January. In ancient times, however, there was a tendency to include both the first day and the last day so that a year from January first was thought of as the thirty-first of the following December, and ‘the day was added that there might be a whole year.’ The use of this peculiar phrase to mean just a year in the homicide cases has found expression in some of the statutes. Other enactments have wisely dropped this ancient jingle.” Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law 778 (3d ed.
“Several centuries ago, when doctors knew very little about medicine, the judges created an absolute rule of law: one cannot be guilty of murder if the victim lives for a year and a day after the blow. The difficulty in proving that the blow caused the death after so long an interval was obviously the basis of the rule. Now that doctors know infinitely more, it seems strange that the year-and-a-day rule should survive to the present, but it has done so in most of the American states, either by judicial decision or by statute.” Wayne R. LaFave & Austin W. Scott Jr., Criminal Law § 3.12, at 299 (2d ed. 1986).
“The year and a day rule is widely viewed as an outdated relic of the common law.” Rogers v.
Tennessee, 532 U.S. 451, 462, 121 S.Ct. 1693, 1701 (2001)(O’Connor, J.).
[Blacks Law 8th]