Manslaughter is one of the most serious criminal offences with significant penalties however is less serious than murder in which charge has a close relationship with. In fact, section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 clearly states that:
- Murder shall be taken to be have been committed where the act of the accused, or thing by him or her omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, or done in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission, by the accused, or some accomplice with him or her, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for life or for 25 years.
- Every other punishable homicide shall be taken to be manslaughter.
Evidently, as seen in the Crimes Act clearly defines murder as any act that was done in a reckless manner or with malicious intention. This is important to understand as any act that has resulted in the death of another individual, but can not be proven that it was undertaken intentionally or recklessly with no consideration on the implication it may have on human life is therefore classified as the lesser charge of manslaughter. While murder results in a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, manslaughter has a significantly reduced sentence of 25 years imprisonment.
It is also important to understand that manslaughter is further broken up into 2 subcategories: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is defined as situations in which there was no prior intent to the actions that have resulted in death, however adequate provocation has resulted in the act. Meanwhile involuntary manslaughter occurs in situations where another person has died as the result or unlawful, yet unintentional acts. Examples of acts that are considered manslaughter and not murder include punching another individual who falls and hits their head, resulting in death, negligent driving that results in an accident where another individual dies, or failure to safely secure scaffolding at a job site which then collapses and results in the death of a worker.
As leading criminal defence law firm in Sydney, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders has extensive experience in defending a variety of criminal cases including manslaughter charges. If you or someone you know is facing charges in relation to homicide, it is best to seek legal representation immediately.
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Any act that results in death of another individual is seen as one of the most serious crimes in the eyes of the law and the public. As a result, significant penalties apply. While murder carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment although this sentence is usually reserved for repeat offenders, extremely severe situations and those with a lengthy criminal history. However, it is important to note that statistics show majority of offenders receive a full time, custodial sentence and therefore this should be expected to some degree.
Depending on the circumstances and with the help of experience criminal defence lawyers to defend the accused, the Court may also find other penalties more appropriate for the offender. The Court may order that a guilty individual must participate in mandatory behavioural programs, contribute to community service organisations or pay a fine as stipulated by the court. Other examples of penalties that may be imposed by the Court include intensive correction orders (ICO), home detention and supervised sentences.
If you, or someone you is facing charges in relation to manslaughter, contact our expert criminal defence lawyers for more accurate advice on the penalties that could apply to your situation. Schedule a FREE first consultation now!
If you choose agree and plead guilty to the charges of manslaughter made against you, and the prosecution team is able to prove that you did commit the offence as set out in section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) you will proceed to sentencing, where it is likely that you will face the penalties listed above.
As mentioned above, full time custodial sentences are highly probable in these situations. However, pleading guilty is generally favoured amongst the Court, in which less severe penalties are often awarded as a result of demonstrating your remorse and regret. Your criminal defence lawyer will be able to advise whether it is in your best interest to plead guilty to such a charge, and the implications this will have on you. Your criminal lawyer may also be able to negotiate a more favourable deal with the prosecution team, in exchange for a guilty plea.
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You also have the option to plead not guilty. Should you choose to do so, the case will proceed to trial at the Supreme Court. Prior to this event taking place, the prosecution will provide your criminal defence team with a brief of evidence containing all the information they will use to convict you of manslaughter. If with this information, the prosecution is able to successfully prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did commit the crime, it is likely you will face the penalties discussed above.
However, as an award winning criminal law firm in Sydney, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders is home to we are some of the best criminal defence lawyers. If we represent your case, may be able to achieve more favourable outcome if we are successfully able to disprove the claims and argue the following defences.
There are numerous defence strategies that our criminal defence lawyers may use in order achieve the best results for our clients. Some of the below defences provide a complete defence against manslaughter, in which the charges will be dropped entirely. Other defences are referred to as a partial defence, in which less severe penalties will be imposed or the charge will be reduced to one that has less severe consequences.
Self-Defence: One of the most common defences use is self-defence, which can be argued in situations where the accused has committed the criminal act in order to protect their property, themselves or another person from an unjust aggressor.
Duress: Includes situations where the accused has received threats that pressured them to committing the criminal activity. It must be stipulated that the accused would have not usually acted in such a manner if the threats were not present, however the threat was so great that they believe if the criminal act was not committed, the threat would have taken place. Examples of harmful threats that may coerce and individual include death or grievous bodily harm.
Necessity: Often confused duress, necessity occurs in situations where the criminal offence was committed as a result of imminent danger by either human or natural forces. For example, an often cited case to demonstrate the necessity defence (R v Dudley and Stephens) showed that some circumstances may justify the actions of committing a criminal offence. In this instance, a group men found themselves shipwrecked with limited supplies to survive. After eating the last of their turnips and an entire turtle that they had manage to catch, there was no other sources available to eat. Meanwhile, one of the men in the group fell into a coma, and the remaining individuals killed him and resorted to cannibalism in order to keep themselves alive. After their rescue, the men found themselves charged with murder, and although they were found guilty of the charge, much sympathy was demonstrated by both the public and the Court. As a result, the men received only 6 months imprisonment.
Automatism: Automatism is characterised by situations in which a criminal act was committed when an individual did not have conscious thoughts or intention of doing so. This is broken up into two categories defined as insane automatism and non-insane automatism. Insane automatism refers to individuals who have a “disease of the mind” therefore limiting their consciously ability. For example, schizophrenia or psychoses may be examples in which for periods of time a person may be unaware of their actions. Meanwhile, non-insane automatism generally relates to situations where the individual was acting involuntarily as a result of external forces. An example of this may include medication that effects the brains ability to function properly as seen in the case R v Quick  in which a diabetic patient entered a hypo-glycaemic state, impairing the mind and resulting in a criminal act by the accused.
Mental Illness: As per the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990, a defence of mental illness can be raised if it can have proved that the accused was mentally ill at the time of the offence. In these circumstances, the Court may order behavioural programs or detainment at treatment facilities as opposed to imprisonment in gaol.
Battered Person Syndrome: Also known as battered women syndrome, although it is not gender specific in the Court room, battered person syndrome is commonly seen in individuals who have experience ongoing abusive relationships and chronic domestic violence. Typically, this abuse negatively impacts the individual’s thoughts and behaviour in which they seriously fear leaving the abusive relationship. As a result, this person may commit criminal offences that they usually would have not participated in, should they had not suffered the traumatic experience. While such circumstances may easily then coincide with self-defence, majority of the time the crime has not been committed under direct of threat, thus self-defence does not hold as strong justification of actions.
Due to the serious nature of the crime, individuals charged with manslaughter will have the matter dealt with at Supreme Court.
At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we have extensive experience in representing clients at Local, District and Supreme Courts. Regardless of where you matter is dealt with, you can be confident that our criminal defence lawyers are highly committed, dedicated and proficient to handle your case.
If you or someone you know is facing charges of manslaughter, call our expert team now for a FREE first confidential consultation.