Manslaughter

What is Manslaughter?

The offence of Manslaughter is found at section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Any punishable homicide that does not amount to murder shall be taken to be manslaughter.

It is an extremely serious criminal offence.

If you are charged with the offence of Manslaughter, your options will normally be to plead guilty or not guilty.

Pleading not guilty

There are two forms of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter is where there is present in the offender a state of mind that would support a conviction of murder (the act or omission causing death was committed with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm or with reckless indifference to human life) but the culpability of the offender’s conduct is reduced by reason of excessive self-defence, provocation, or substantial impairment by abnormality of mind.

Involuntary manslaughter involves neither intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm to the victim, nor the other mental elements necessary for murder.

What are the different types of involuntary manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter by gross negligence, which is committed where you owe a legal duty of care to the deceased and cause the death of the deceased by an intentional act or omission in circumstances which involved such a great falling short of the standard of care which a reasonable man would have exercised, and which involved such a high risk that death or grievous bodily harm would follow, that the doing of the act merits criminal punishment.

You will be found not guilty of the offence of Manslaughter by gross negligence if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You had a duty of care to the deceased;
  2. You were negligent in that your act was a in your breach of that duty of care; and
  3. Your act caused the death of the deceased; and
  4. Your act merits criminal punishment because:
    1. It fell so far short of the standard of care which a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances; and
    2. Involved such a high risk that death or really serious bodily harm would follow; and
    3. The degree of negligence involved in the conduct is so serious that it should be treated as criminal conduct.

Involuntary manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act, which is committed where you cause the death of a person by an act which is both unlawful and dangerous. It is not necessary that you were aware that the act was dangerous, provided that a reasonable person would have appreciated that the act was one, which in the circumstances, exposed others to the risk of serious injury.

You will be found not guilty of the offence of Manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. Your act caused the death of the victim; and
  2. The act was deliberate; and
  3. The act was an unlawful and dangerous one.

If the judge is of the opinion that, having regard to all the circumstances, a nominal punishment would be sufficient, the judge may discharge the jury from giving any verdict, and such discharge shall operate as an acquittal.

What are the defences to manslaughter?

Defences to Manslaughter include:

Contact our offices at Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown and Redfern to organise a time for one of our criminal lawyers to advise you of your prospects of successfully defending the charge of Manslaughter.

Pleading guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence (and the police are able to prove so), it is best to plead guilty as you will normally receive a discount on sentence and it will demonstrate remorse and contrition. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to less serious facts or even a less serious charge.

The offence of Manslaughter can be committed in a diverse range of circumstances and as such sentences for this offence vary greatly. The law is also currently in a state of flux on account of the spate of ‘one punch’ deaths and subsequent amendments to the Crimes Act 1900.

The offence of Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment in the Supreme Court. However, this penalty is typically reserved for the worst offenders. Manslaughter is an extremely serious criminal offences and if you are charged with it you should contact our office immediately.

Penalties that a court can impose in NSW are:

Why choose AC Law Group?

Our solicitors are experts at obtaining the best outcome possible for Murder and Manslaughter offences. For these offences, a good lawyer can be the difference between a conviction and no criminal record and freedom or gaol. To read more about AC Law Group, click here.

To discuss your manslaughter charge, call AC Law Group at our Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown and Redfern offices or make a website inquiry today.

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