Subject to some exceptions, murder is committed when a person:
- of “sound mind”
- unlawfully kills
- another human
- with the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH)
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 is this intention, known as the “mens rea”, which creates complexity in this area of law. A charge of murder may be reduced to Manslaughter if the Defence can prove “on the balance of probabilities” that the Defendant had a “diminished responsibility” due to a mental impairment.
Additionally, murder may be reduced to manslaughter if the Prosecution cannot disprove that the Defendant may have been acting as a result of loss of control. In these cases murder would be reduced to “voluntary manslaughter”.
Manslaughter can be split into two categories:
where the intent to kill or cause GBH is present, however one of the exceptions applies (Diminished Responsibility, Loss of Control, Suicide Pact).
where a person has acted in a way which is “grossly negligent” given the risk of death, and did kill another; or where a person has committed an unlawful act which has involved danger of some harm, resulting in the death of another.
If you 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.
MK Law is on hand to help you through all stages of the process.