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Serious crimes concerning murder and manslaughter

26 March 2021


With its mandatory life sentence, murder is the most serious of crimes. Along with manslaughter, it forms the cornerstone of homicide law in the UK. As you would expect of such serious allegations, the cases are always hard-fought with the defence and prosecution taking all possible steps to close the case in their favour. Having an experienced criminal solicitor in your corner is your best chance for all this to end well, and to reassure you that your best interests are being championed.

The start of the journey; your arrest

For such accusations, if there is any credibility to the claim an arrest is probable, so as to minimise the risk of the suspect fleeing. The case can then be built against you while you are in custody. It’s important to stay calm and make the most of your rights. You could have been picked up at 3 am and arrested in front of your family. As distressing as that is, physical resistance will not be helpful in the long-term and sarcasm does not go over well in recorded police interviews.

You have the right to legal representation before you make any statements and when in doubt say nothing more than confirming your identity and asking for legal advice. A crime solicitor from ABV Solicitors can be made available to you at the earliest possible moment 24 hours a day.

The legal definitions of murder and manslaughter

The act of committing murder requires the unlawful application of violence with the intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm by someone who is considered to be of sound mind and body.

To strengthen the case, the prosecution will look deeply into your past and that of the victim, to show you are of sound mind and body and you had the intent to kill. If the victim has died and the intent to kill cannot be supported in court, a charge of manslaughter will be submitted. If the intent to kill can be supported but the victim has survived, the charges of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm will be applied.

The association between the accused and the victim will be considered, as well the level of violence used, the planning or pre-meditation and any previous history of crime.

Manslaughter can occur without the implication of murder and can arise due to gross negligence in the workplace, or by subjecting someone unlawfully to a high-risk situation which results in death.

Exactly how this law is interpreted in an individual case can be complex and is one of the reasons why legal representation and guidance from our crime solicitor is so important.

The sentence

As part of due process, if charged with murder you will attend a magistrate’s court to confirm your identity and will have your date to attend the Crown Court set. Assuming you are over 18, being found guilty has a mandatory life sentence. Under 18, the life sentence is not mandatory, but a similar time spent in prison is highly likely unless there are extremely mitigating circumstances.

The manslaughter sentences are not set in law and can include life imprisonment depending on the ruling.

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