If you are charged with an offence involving the death of another person, you should obtain legal advice immediately. Contact us for a free initial consultation.
Murder and manslaughter are classes of homicide. Homicide is the killing of a human being by another.
Murder and Manslaughter are defined in Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The Prosecution must prove:
- The accused committed an act or omission; and
- The act or omission was voluntary; and
- The act or omission caused the death of another person; and
- The act or omission was done with:
- Intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm; or
- Reckless indifference to human life; or
- In an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission, by the accused, or some accomplice with him or her, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for life or for 25 years.
The definition does not include an act or omission which was not malicious for which the accused had lawful cause or excuse. It also does not include a killing “by misfortune”, for example as a result of self-defence. Such a killing may amount to “excusable homicide”. It is important to note that intention is not a key ingredient in every murder case – reckless indifference is sufficient. Similarly, it may not be an action – but an omission – that constitutes an element of the offence.
The maximum penalty for murder is imprisonment for life. Where the victim is a child under 18 years of age or a prescribed person (e.g. a police officer), the standard non-parole period is 25 years. In other cases it is 20 years.
Every other “punishable homicide” is defined to be manslaughter. Like murder, manslaughter need not involve intention to kill or an actual act. There are three types of manslaughter:
- Voluntary manslaughter – when the elements of murder are established but a partial defence is also available (e.g. provocation, excessive self-defence)
- Involuntary manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act – a dangerous act is one that a reasonable person in the position of the accused would have realised was an act that exposed another person to a risk of serious injury
- Involuntary manslaughter by criminal negligence – this requires that the accused owed the deceased a legal duty of care, and breached it so significantly that criminal punishment is warranted
The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 25 years imprisonment.
There are also specific offences such as infanticide and assault causing death, which have different elements and penalties. It is also an offence to conspire to murder or attempt to murder.
Each of these crimes involving homicide is highly technical. Moreover, every case in which there is a death will depend strongly upon its circumstances. These crimes are amongst the most serious known to our legal system. As such, it is essential that you obtain legal representation if you are facing even the prospect of such charges. Contact us today for an immediate free consultation.
As such, it is important to obtain legal advice to maximise your chances of a good outcome at Court.
If you are seeking legal advice, contact us for a free initial consultation.