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Murder law in the UK; a guide for 2023 from our criminal solicitor
26 May 2023

Murder is one of the most serious crimes that can be committed, and the law surrounding it is complex. In the United Kingdom, murder is defined as the intentional killing of another person, and it carries a mandatory life sentence.

However, most people are unaware of the laws that surround murder, and, as such, it can be a bit puzzling relating to what is fact and what is fiction, especially if you watch a lot of TV shows.

When it comes to defending a murder charge, you will want the best team to protect you, and, as such, our criminal solicitor at ABV Solicitors will be on hand to do just that should you need us to.

So, with that in mind, this article written by a criminal solicitor will explore the law surrounding murder in the UK, including the different types of murder and the factors that can affect sentencing.

The two types of murder

In the UK, there are 2 distinct types of murder: first-degree murder and second-degree murder.

First-degree murder is a premeditated killing, meaning that the killer had planned the murder in advance. Second-degree murder, on the other hand, is a random killing that occurs in the heat of the moment.

In order to prove a charge of first-degree murder, the prosecution must demonstrate that the killer had a clear intention to kill or cause serious harm to the victim. This can be done by presenting evidence of premeditation, such as the use of a weapon or a history of threats against the victim.

Second-degree murder is not as serious of a charge as first-degree murder, but it is still a grave crime. In order to prove a charge of second-degree murder, the prosecution must demonstrate that the killing was intentional but not premeditated. In both instances, you will want a team with the right expertise to defend your corner, and with our level of knowledge surrounding murder law, our criminal solicitor will be a great addition to any defence.


As previously mentioned, murder carries a mandatory life sentence in the UK. However, the actual length of the sentence can vary depending on a number of factors.

One of the main factors that will affect the length of the sentence is the severity of the crime. For example, if the killer had planned the murder in advance and carried out the killing in a particularly brutal or sadistic way, the judge is likely to impose a longer sentence.

Another factor that can affect the length of the sentence is the killer’s motive. If the killing was committed for financial gain or out of revenge, for example, the judge is likely to impose a longer sentence than if the killing was achieved in a fit of rage.

Mitigating factors

There are also a number of mitigating factors that can be taken into account when sentencing a killer for murder. These factors can include things like the killer’s age, their mental state at the time of the killing, and whether they had a history of violence or abuse.

If there are mitigating factors present, the judge may decide to impose a shorter sentence. For example, if the killer was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killing, the judge may choose to impose a sentence that includes treatment for the issue.

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