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An introduction to murder and manslaughter

06 August 2021


As you may know, murder and manslaughter are the most serious crimes that can be committed in the UK. Together the crimes are referred to as homicide. Murder and manslaughter cases are always highly televised and documented and the media place a lot of importance on these cases. This is to bring awareness to the general public and to ensure that the public can also condemn the behaviour. Media exposure can be said to act as a deterrent for the general public. The statistics have shown that in recent years the number of homicides has increased, with 695 homicides committed last year. Of those 695, it has been found that almost 75% of the victims were male. If you require a criminal solicitor then consider ABV Solicitors where our expert team of lawyers, who are highly trained, will be able to give you professional and friendly advice and will be able to assist you with your needs and requirements in a discreet manner.

What is the difference between murder and manslaughter?

So you may be wondering why there are two different offences for homicide. The reason for this can be explained by looking at the legal definition for each offence. A criminal solicitor will be able to explain the definitions in layman’s terms but to summarise, murder is the killing of another person with the intention to kill them or cause serious harm and injury. Manslaughter results in death of the victim, but the legal definition says that the offender does not intend to kill their victim. There are two types of manslaughter – voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter gives the offender an opportunity to use a defence, such as loss of control or diminished responsibility. Involuntary manslaughter is whereby the death of an individual is brought about, but without the intention to do so. Examples of this occurring include medical manslaughter. As you can see there is very little difference between murder and manslaughter and therefore a criminal solicitor who is defending the offender will have a difficult time in proving that their client committed the lesser crime of manslaughter rather than murder.

Similarities and differences between murder and manslaughter

The key difference as mentioned above is that a person has defences available to them for manslaughter. A criminal solicitor will explain to you that diminished responsibility means that the offender was not of sound mind and suffered from a mental health condition at the time of committing the offence. If the defence is able to successfully prove this by presenting medical evidence, then the court will accept the defence and reduce the charge of murder to manslaughter. The defence of loss of control or provocation can be used if the offender can successfully prove that, just before the offence was committed, the offender was provoked by the victim to the point that any reasonable person in their position would have done what the offender did and would have lost control in that situation. This defence is a lot harder to prove than diminished responsibility.

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