Criminal lawyer for Manslaughter

Manslaughter is one of the most serious offences in the Crimes Act 1900. Any homicide that does not amount to murder shall be taken to be manslaughter. You can be charged with manslaughter if you do something that results in the death of another person. The offence is not murder because you didn’t intend to kill or seriously injure the victim.

There are many ways that murder can be reduced to manslaughter. Even where a person has an intention to kill or seriously harm. This includes excessive self-defence, provocation, or substantial impairment by abnormality of mind. Reasonable self-defence is a complete defence to manslaughter than can result in a verdict of not guilty.

You can also be charged with manslaughter if you to do something resulting in the death of another person and were grossly negligent in failing to act.

The difference in sentences between murder and manslaughter is often substantial. 

How do I beat a charge of manslaughter?

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. The culpability of the offender’s conduct is reduced by reason of excessive self-defence, provocation or substantial impairment by abnormality of mind.

The elements for murder are:

  1. You committed an act or omission causing death;
  2. With intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm (really serious harm). The necessary mental state must exist at the time of the act or acts of the accused that caused the death of the victim. It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused intended to cause the death or the injury in a particular way; or
  3. With reckless indifference to human life. You did an act foreseeing that it is probable – as distinct from possible – that death would result from that act; or
  4. The death occurred during you committing an offence which is punishable for life or 25 years.

Complete defences to manslaughter include:

  • Identification – Someone else caused the death of the victim.
  • Cause of death – The death was caused by something else other than the actions of the Accused. 
  • Self-defence – The law recognises that a person has the right to act in self-defence from a physical attack or threatened attack. So long as the response is reasonable in the circumstances. Self-defence includes defence of another person.
  • Duress – A person acts under duress when their actions are performed because of threats of death or really serious injury that would cause a person of ordinary courage to yield.
  • Necessity – The common law defence of necessity operates where circumstances (natural or human threats) bear upon the accused. This induces the accused to break the law to avoid even more dire consequences. There is some overlapping with the defence of duress.

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 person 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:
    • It fell so far short of the standard of care which a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances; and
    • Involved such a high risk that death or really serious bodily harm would follow; and
    • 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, they may discharge the jury from giving any verdict. Such discharge shall operate as an acquittal.

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. You will normally receive a discount on your sentence, and it will demonstrate remorse and contrition. It may also 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 carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment in the Supreme Court. This penalty is typically reserved for the worst offenders. The offence of Manslaughter can be committed in a diverse range of circumstances and as such sentences for this offence vary greatly. It is advisable that you contact one of our senior lawyers such as Mr Correy or Adut to ensure that you get the most lenient sentence possible. 

You can read about all the sentencing options that a court has, including having no conviction recorded.

Why choose Australian Criminal Law Group?

Our criminal lawyers are experts at obtaining the best outcome possible for manslaughter offences. For these offences, a good lawyer can be the difference between a conviction and no criminal record and freedom or jail. To read more about Australian Criminal Law Group, click here.

To discuss your Manslaughter charge, call Australian Criminal Law Group at our Sydney, Parramatta, and Blacktown offices or make a website inquiry today.

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