What is Murder?

The crime of murder is committed, when a sane person: unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing) another person with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH). It will be the Crown’s responsibility to prove each aspect of this and the Defences to show either:

  • it is a case of mistaken identity.
  • self-defence.
  • there was no intent.
  • the accused was not of stable mind.

Partial Defences to Murder

The main difference between murder and manslaughter is that a person must intend to kill or cause GBH in order to be guilty of murder. It may be reduced to manslaughter if the Prosecution cannot disprove that the Defendant may have been acting as a result of loss of control or diminished responsibility. In these cases, murder would be reduced to “voluntary manslaughter”.

Note: Duress is not a defence to a charge of murder or attempted murder.

What are the Sentencing Guidelines for murder?

All adults convicted of murder will get a mandatory life sentence except if the offence is so exceptionally high that early release provisions should not apply, which is known as a ‘whole life order’.

If a whole life order sentence is not handed out a judge will determine a minimum term that needs to be served before parole can be considered. There are therefore four main categories with starting points of:

  • A whole life order; (eg murder of a person under 18 involving abduction, murders of 2 or more people where each murder involved a high degree of planning or were of a sadistic or sexually nature)
  • 30 years (eg racially aggravated, involves firearm/explosive, sexual/sadistic or in the course of a burglary)
  • 25 years (eg when taken a knife or other weapon to the scene)
  • 15 years

A number of Aggravating or mitigating factors can then be taken into account when deciding the final sentence. These can include things like:

  • The degree of planning
  • Abuse of position
  • Use of duress/threats
  • Vulnerability of the victim
  • Lack of premeditation
  • Provocation
  • Intention to cause serious harm but not to kill

What should you do if you’re been charged for Murder?

If you or a family member are accused of murder or manslaughter you should seek legal advice immediately. It is vital that you receive the best advice possible and provide as much detail of the facts of your case as you can to ensure the right result for you.

At MK Law we have a wealth of experienced and skilled defence solicitors and advocates committed to providing you with the best advice and representation you can get, from the police station to the court room.