Murder

Murder is when

  • a sane person who is at least 10 years old,
  • with no lawful excuse,
  • does an act that is a substantial cause of someone else's death and
  • does the act with the intent to kill or cause serious harm.

Whilst the offence is easily stated, there are a number of elements that need to be proved or disproved for someone to be convicted of murder. There are also specific defences or partial defences that may reduce the offence to manslaughter.  

The mandatory sentence for murder is imprisonment for life for those aged 21 or over, custody for life for those aged over 18 but under 21 and detention at Her Majesty's pleasure for offenders under 18 at the time of the offence.

During recent years we have seen an increase in gang related incidents which have lead to the murder of one or more individuals. In addition (not gang related) more than one person can be charged with murder as a joint enterprise which will then bring into question the liability of secondary parties. This has been a particularly difficult area in which some acts may be foreseen and others not.

The principle is now settled that a secondary party is liable for murder if he participates in a joint enterprise realising that the principle might assault a victim with intent to kill or cause serious harm. However, if the principle does an act that is not foreseen as possible, thereby going outside the scope of the joint enterprise, the secondary party is not liable for murder.

Argument may still arise where different types of weapons are anticipated and/or used however, it is not simply an issue of the type of weapon but may require an assessment of the way the different and unforeseen weapon is likely to be used or the injury it is likely to cause. Furthermore, where violence is not planned but is or may be spontaneous, the case may require an assessment of what a participant foresaw as possible or himself intended.

As far as other available defences are concerned, these range from "self defence" to "diminished responsibility" and "loss of control" (which replaces the old defence of provocation). To discuss these and any other matters please contact us by phone or simply complete the email enquiry form below.

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