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Murder and Manslaughter
If you have been accused of committing murder or manslaughter, it is essential that you seek immediate access to expert legal advice and representation.
It almost goes without saying that allegations of murder and manslaughter are incredibly serious, and can lead to very tough punishments, including life imprisonment.
With cases as serious as murder and manslaughter, we cannot emphasise just how imperative it is to get the right support at a very early stage. Having the right legal team - one who fully understands the law relating to these crimes and is highly experienced in dealing with cases of this type - is a top priority.
How JMW Can Help
Being arrested is always a confusing and scary time, so it is important that you have expert solicitors on your side to advise and guide you through every stage of the investigation and any resulting prosecution. At JMW, we are able to offer this level of support, making sure you are aware of your legal options throughout the entire process.
Our team is highly experienced in handling cases of this nature, and have a strong track record of seeing charges dropped or securing not guilty verdicts in court. If a conviction cannot be avoided, we will always offer realistic guidance and robust representation to minimise the penalties.
We are able to thoroughly review any type of evidence relied upon in serious criminal cases such as murder and manslaughter. This includes forensics such as fingerprint and DNA analysis, digital evidence including mobile phone records and text messages, as well as witness testimony.
What is Murder?
While most people think they understand what is meant by murder, there is a very specific meaning in the eyes of the law. The prosecution must prove that an individual, who is of sound mind and discretion, has unlawfully killed another person under the Queen’s peace with the intention of killing them or causing them grievous bodily harm (GBH). It is this intention that distinguishes murder from manslaughter.
What is Manslaughter?
There are two types of manslaughter:
This also requires an intention to kill or cause GBH. However, where a partial defence, such as diminished responsibility, loss of control or death caused by a suicide pact applies, the offence will be manslaughter.
This has similar elements to murder but does not involve an intention to kill or cause GBH. There are two types of involuntary manslaughter:
- Unlawful act manslaughter - where the defendant committed an unlawful and dangerous act that resulted in the death of another person
- Gross negligence manslaughter - where the defendant’s gross negligence resulted in the death of another person
What are the Penalties for Murder and Manslaughter?
Murder and manslaughter trials can be long and complex at the end of which a jury will be asked to decide if they can be sure that the offence was committed beyond all reasonable doubt.
If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, the court will impose a sentence. The mandatory sentence for murder is life imprisonment. The judge will set a minimum amount of time that must be served before a person is eligible for parole. However, this does not necessarily mean that a person will be released once the minimum term has been served. The length of time spent in prison depends on various factors, including behaviour while in prison.
In manslaughter cases, the maximum sentence that a court can impose is life imprisonment. Unlike murder, a life sentence is not mandatory. The sentence imposed will depend on the individual circumstances of the case, as well as factors such as previous convictions and the age of the accused.
To determine the appropriate sentence, the court will consider a number of factors, including:
- Whether a weapon was used
- Any previous convictions
- Whether it was an act of self-defence or in defence of someone else
- Whether it prevented another crime from taking place (e.g. burglary)
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Arrested for Murder or Manslaughter?
To avoid the risk of saying or doing anything that could undermine your defence, it is important that you are aware of your rights when being interviewed by police in connection to murder or manslaughter.
Your rights include:
- Not having to answer any questions asked by the police
- If you are under arrest - the right to have somebody informed of your whereabouts
- Free legal representation during the interview
Following a police interview, one of the following will occur:
- You will be released with no further action taken against you
- You will be released under investigation
- You will be released but required to return to the police station on a certain date and time
- You will be charged with an offence
If you are released with no further action, or under investigation, it is important to note that you can be rearrested or summoned to attend court at a later date.