Murder is the most serious criminal offence because of the value that society places on a human life. Due to the gravity of the crime it is not easy for police to prove murder. There are many defences that our criminal lawyers use to beat murder charges. Not guilty verdicts for murder are attainable where an Accused was not the person who caused the victim’s death. Or, the death was caused by something other than the Accused’s actions. Partial defences are also available. A murder charge will be reduced to manslaughter where an Accused person acts in excessive self-defence, is provoked or has a substantial impairment by abnormality of mind.
You can read more about manslaughter here.
How do I beat a murder charge?
You will be found not guilty to murder if the police cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You committed an act or omission causing death, either:
- With intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm (really serious harm); or
- 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
- The death occurred while you were committing an offence which is punishable by 25 years to life imprisonment.
You will be found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter if:
- You committed the act under provocation. This means your act was the result of a loss of self-control induced by the conduct of the deceased towards you. This includes grossly insulting words or gestures. And, that conduct of the deceased was such that it could have induced an ordinary person in your position to have lost self-control as to have formed an intent to kill, or to inflict grievous bodily harm upon, the deceased.
- You committed the act using excessive self-defence. This means the act or omission causing death was committed where there is a reasonable possibility that you were acting in self-defence. But your conduct was unreasonable because it was excessive or for any other reason.
- You committed the act with a substantial impairment by abnormality of mind. This means that at the time of the acts or omissions causing the death concerned, your capacity to understand events or to judge whether your actions were right or wrong, or to control yourself was substantially impaired by an abnormality of mind arising from an underlying condition and the impairment was so substantial as to warrant liability for murder being reduced to manslaughter.
Complete defences to Murder to be found not guilty 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. This could be 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, inducing the accused to break the law to avoid even more dire consequences. There is some overlapping with the defence of duress.
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 Murder carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment in the Supreme Court. It has a standard non parole period of 20 years imprisonment. This penalty is typically reserved for the worst offenders. Murder is an extremely serious criminal offences and if you are charged with it you should contact our office immediately.
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 Murder 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.
Mr Correy represented a man charged with murder following a brawl involving security cards and patrons who were refused entry into a nightclub. Mr Correy dissected the prosecution brief including dozens of civilian witness statements and CCTV from the council, store fronts, hotels, and pubs. Ultimately, it was accepted the man had acted in excessive self-defence and the murder charge was dismissed and replaced with manslaughter.
Mr Adut represented a client charged with murder following a stray bullet in a gang shootout hitting a bystander. He was one of several co-Accused. Mr Adut subpoenaed the police in order to uncover how alleged admissions were obtained from the Accused. The subpoenaed material revealed information not in the Brief. It showed that the police had acted illegally. They had deliberately concealed how they obtained the alleged admissions. In consequence of those subpoenas, the officer responsible was cross-examined on voir dire and the judge excluded the alleged admissions. Following the alleged admissions being ruled inadmissible, the Crown withdrew the charge of murder and accepted a plea of guilty to Affray.