Must a Judge at Trial Always Give the Jury the Option of Finding Guilt for a Lesser Included Offense?

Many crimes are fundamentally one type of crime, i.e. theft or causing another person’s death, but there are levels.  Embezzlement is more serious than petty theft.  First degree murder is more serious than involuntary manslaughter.  When elements of a crime are disputed, does a judge have an affirmative duty to give the jury the option of finding guilt of a lesser-included offense?  The following summary of a recent appellate court decision addresses this interesting issue.  To read this summary, click on the following link.

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