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Manslaughter Murder Homicide Offences

Criminal homicides are typically thought of as the most severe crimes, and being charged with an offence under this category is an extremely serious matter, definitely requiring legal help.

Unlawful homicide is either manslaughter or murder according to the circumstances of the case. Section 291 and 293 set out what constitutes an unlawful killing. Section 291 makes it unlawful to kill any person, unless the killing is authorised or justified by law. Section 293 defines killing as ‘causing the death of another, directly or indirectly, by any means whatever’.

If the offender intends to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to the person killed or some other person. If the death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose and the act is of a nature likely to endanger human life;

  1. If the offender intends to do grievous bodily harm to some person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime or for the purpose of facilitating the flight of an offender who has committed or attempted to commit such a crime. The crime must be such that the offender may be arrested without warrant;
  2. If death is caused by administering any stupefying or overpowering thing for either of the purposes mentioned in paragraph (3);
  3. If death is caused by wilfully stopping the breath of any person for either of the listed purposes.

A person who is found guilty of murder, under section 305, is liable to life imprisonment or an indefinite sentence (Part 10 Penalties and Sentences Act 1992). Further, if the defendant is being sentenced on more than one conviction of murder, or another offence of murder is being taken into account the person may not be released from imprisonment until a minimum of 20 years has been served.

Section 303 provides that a person who unlawfully kills another under such circumstances as not to constitute murder is guilty of manslaughter. A person who is guilty of Manslaughter under section 310 is liable to a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life.

Section 306 makes it an offence to attempt to unlawfully kill another person. A person found guilty of attempted murder is liable to imprisonment for life. Section 311 makes it an offence to procure, counsel or aid another to kill himself/herself. A person found guilty of aiding suicide is liable to imprisonment for life.

Homicide crimes range on a scale of seriousness from involuntary manslaughter to first-degree murder. There are particular aspects to homicide crimes that determine the degrees of seriousness and blameworthiness of the crime, including the presence of premeditation, intention and soundness of mind. In the case of involuntary manslaughter, factors such as criminal negligence, recklessness or disregard for life are determining factors.

This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice.

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