Criminal Law
Murder & Manslaughter

Murder and Manslaughter

Murder and manslaughter, collectively termed ‘homicide’, are offences covering situations where a death has occurred.

In order to establish the offence of murder, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant killed another and intended to kill or cause ‘really serious harm’. The defendant must have been ‘of sound mind’ at the time and his or her actions must have been ‘unlawful’ – that is to say, not done in self-defence (and no other ‘justification’ applies).

There are three types of manslaughter:

The first, sometimes called ‘voluntary manslaughter’, is where a partial defence to murder, such as ‘diminished responsibility’ resulting from a mental condition, or loss of self-control (‘provocation’), is established. This reduces acts which would otherwise constitute the offence of murder to manslaughter, hence the term ‘partial defence’.

Manslaughter can take two other forms, sometimes referred to collectively as ‘involuntary manslaughter’ - because it is unnecessary to prove that the defendant intended to kill (or cause ‘really serious harm’) to establish guilt.

In order to prove ‘gross negligence manslaughter’ it must first be shown that the defendant owed the deceased a legal ‘duty of care’.

Examples include the duty of care owed by doctors to their patients, employers to their employees and police and prison officers to those in their detention.

The prosecution must next establish that the defendant breached this duty of care by acting (or failing to act) in a way that created a serious and obvious risk of death.

Finally, it must be shown that death did, in fact, occur as a consequence of the breach of the duty of care.

Unlawful act manslaughter’ covers situations where the defendant inadvertently causes the death of another by his or her unlawful and dangerous act.

An example might be where the defendant sets fire to a building intending only to burn it down (the offence of arson). Someone is inside the building and dies in the fire. The defendant acted in a way that caused an obvious danger (setting fire to the building) and this caused the death of another.

Murder and manslaughter are offences that can only be committed by individuals. In 2008, the offence of corporate manslaughter was introduced to deal with very serious failures on the part of organisations which result in death.

Investigation stage

Police may arrest a person where there is, from an objective point of view, a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that he or she has committed an offence.

An arrested person may be detained at a police station where it is necessary to do so in order to question them to determine whether or he or she committed the offence under investigation.

Everyone held in police detention is entitled to free and independent legal advice. This includes telephone advice upon arrival at the police station (unless certain limited exceptions apply). It also includes the right to have a legal adviser present during any police interview.

It is critical to appreciate that what is said and done at the police station can determine whether the arrested person is, or is not, ultimately convicted.

This principle applies in every case, whether the allegation is shoplifting or murder.

It is therefore essential to have expert legal advice from the earliest possible stage of your case. If you, or someone you know, is, or may be, suspected of any offence, get in touch for a free consultation.

Our team have a wealth of experience of representing clients suspected of homicide / attempted homicide from the police station to the Court of Appeal.

Court proceedings

A person is charged with an offence where it is believed that there is sufficient evidence to produce a ‘realistic prospect of conviction’ at trial (and it is in the public interest to proceed).

All criminal offences, including murder and manslaughter, commence in the Magistrates’ Court, but homicide trials can be heard only in the Crown Court, before a judge a jury.

Legal rules cover the disclosure of prosecution material in advance of trial. It is critical that all disclosable material is obtained by the defence.

Violent Crime Solicitors- Murder & Manslaughter

National Legal Service Solicitors have over 30 years of combined experience in representing clients facing murder or manslaughter charges. Drawing upon our many years of experience, we will devise and execute the best strategic and tactical approach to mount the strongest defence, whatever charges you may face.

We advise clients facing such serious allegations to use their right to remain silent until a criminal defence solicitor arrives at the police station for an interview under caution.

We recognise that, for each and every one of our clients, whatever charge or charges they may face, the outcome of their case can have life-changing consequences.

We approach every case with this firmly in mind.

Every case is different and calls for a tailored tactical and strategic approach. Our team have many years of experience of defending clients accused of offences of all levels of gravity, including innumerable homicides. We draw on this wealth of experience in devising the best defence strategy for each of our clients.

We will thoroughly test every disputed aspect of the prosecution case.

This may involve, on the one hand, instructing an expert in fingerprints, ballistics or DNA. On the other, it may require locating a critical eyewitness not previously spoken to.

Sadly, it can be the case that certain lines of enquiry are not pursued to the fullest once a suspect has been charged. We are experts at following these ‘loose ends’. Looking beneath unturned stones has secured the acquittal of many of our clients over the years.

Every case requires specialist consideration, preparation and presentation. In homicide cases, it is even more essential to have an expert team on your side.

Drawing upon our combined decades of experience, we will:

  • Investigate every disputed aspect of the prosecution case by whatever reasonable means necessary;
  • This includes instructing experts, across all relevant disciplines, many of whom we have worked with in previous cases;
  • Explore the defence case, including seeking out witnesses and other evidence overlooked by police, however difficult it may be to find;
  • Work with counsel to present the strongest possible defence case at trials.

If you, a family member, or friend have been arrested on murder or manslaughter allegations, it is essential that you contact us immediately on 020 3601 5051 or fill in our contact form. Alternatively, if you have been charged with any offence get in touch, whatever stage your case has reached.

24 Hour Availability

Our criminal defence solicitors are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week & can assist you at police stations whenever you need us.

Legal Aid

We are proud to be able to continue to provide criminal legal aid to our clients.
The number of legal aid solicitors has declined sharply over the last few years and we are proud to be one of the fast growing legal aid firms

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