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Murder and Manslaughter Solicitors

Being accused of murder and manslaughter can have serious repercussions on your life. Our expert Murder and Manslaughter Solicitors discuss the key elements of these offences. If you are found guilty of either offence, your life will change forever.

Seeking specialist legal advice from our expert murder and manslaughter solicitors is vital if you are the subject of an investigation for murder and manslaughter. Your solicitor will work with you to ensure that every element of the case is fully understood and the best possible outcome is achieved.


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Highly complex

Murder and manslaughter cases are renowned for being highly complex. The stakes are high, with serious prison sentences possible for those found guilty of either offence.

At your side

This is why it is crucial that if you, or a friend or family member, is being investigated or prosecuted for either offence, you have our experienced murder and manslaughter solicitors at your side.

What are murder and manslaughter?

The offences of both murder and manslaughter fall under the umbrella of ‘homicide’. This can be an extremely complex area of law and a wide range of different factors can have an impact on both the ultimate outcome and the court proceedings.

Murder and manslaughter are probably the most well-known offences in this area of law. Indeed, the most serious homicide offence is murder.

Manslaughter is split into two categories: voluntary and involuntary.

Other than murder and manslaughter, offences include death by dangerous driving, familial homicide and corporate manslaughter.


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How does the law define murder and manslaughter?

Murder and manslaughter are both complex criminal offences.

The law in England and Wales defines murder as being committed when a person of sound mind and discretion unlawfully kills another person under the Queen’s Peace (not during a war) with the intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH).

It is not possible for a company to commit murder. However, this may fall under corporate manslaughter.

When someone is prosecuted for murder, an alternative verdict of manslaughter can be returned. Someone found not guilty of murder, may be found guilty of manslaughter.

Even if someone dies as a result of someone else’s actions, the accused may not be found guilty of murder. They could, for example, have been acting in self defence (a complete defence to murder). Self defence cases follow their own format.

It is worth noting here that anyone charged with murder cannot claim that they were acting under duress. Duress is not a defence to either murder or attempted murder.

There are partial defences to murder, which, if argued successfully, can change the offence from murder to voluntary manslaughter. The partial defences for murder are diminished responsibility, loss of control and killing in pursuance of a suicide pact.

There are three ways that manslaughter can be committed: grossly negligent conduct given the risk of death (which resulted in death), an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm which killed someone and killing someone with the intent for murder but with a partial defence (as discussed above).

The first two fall under involuntary manslaughter and the last one under voluntary manslaughter.

Murder and manslaughter are very different offences but murder and manslaughter offences are not always clearcut.


What is the difference between murder and manslaughter?

As we have discussed above, the law defines murder and manslaughter in different ways. It is the intention part of the definition which makes murder distinct from manslaughter. This is known as the mens rea (latin for guilty mind).

The mens rea for murder and manslaughter is different. For murder, the mens rea is ‘malice aforethought’, which has been interpreted by the courts as an intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

When someone kills another human being with an intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm but a partial defence applies (discussed in more detail above), this is voluntary manslaughter.

In the case of involuntary manslaughter, the person accused of the crime lacks the mens rea – malice aforethought – for murder.

In court cases for murder and manslaughter, many factors may be taken into account, such as if the accused has any pervious convictions (not just for murder and manslaughter) and whether any weapons were involved.

Both murder and manslaughter investigations can be extremely complex, with a number of different factors coming into play. The evidence the prosecution rely on in murder and manslaughter cases in court can often be very complex, with expert opinions regularly relied upon at trial.


What about attempted murder and manslaughter?

Attempted murder is different to the offence of murder because it requires an intention to kill, not just to cause grievous bodily harm.


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How long are the prison sentences for murder and manslaughter?

Both murder and manslaughter prosecutions can result in lengthy prison sentences. Murder and manslaughter are both extremely serious offences and are dealt with as such when it comes to sentencing.

Murder cases are heard in the crown court. The maximum sentence for murder is life in prison. However, depending on the circumstances of the case, the judge may decide on a lesser sentence.

Sentencing for manslaughter varies, depending on the the type of manslaughter involved. The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) has the starting point for the highest culpability in gross negligence manslaughter at 12 years in custody. In contrast, diminished responsibility sits at 24 years.


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What should I do if I am accused of murder or manslaughter?

At trial, it is up to a jury to decide, beyond all reasonable doubt, whether or not you are guilty.

Both murder and manslaughter investigations take time. Having a solicitor who is experienced in murder and manslaughter cases on your side, to guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are being respected, is crucial.

Instructing lawyers who have extensive experience of murder and manslaughter investigations and trials is vital, especially when there is so much at stake. This area of law can be particularly complicated and having someone to help you at every step is invaluable.

A specialist experienced in murder and manslaughter cases can make sure that no mistakes are made and that if you do end up in court, you are prepared.

Learn more about why you should instruct Adley Gray.


Useful Links

What is Child Abduction?

What is Common Assault?

What is the difference between GBH and ABH?

When is Domestic Violence an offence?



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