Criminal Law-Involuntary Manslaughter .

Topics: Manslaughter in English law, Manslaughter, Criminal law Pages: 16 (6531 words) Published: April 18, 2011
- Assignment on Involuntary manslaughter by abu md. Hossain.

There is no offence of ‘homicide’ as such. A person cannot be charged with or convicted of ‘homicide’. Homicide (Latin: homicidium, Latin: homo human being + Latin: caedere to cut, kill) means the killing of a human being [Irving, Shae, ed (2009) and may be lawful – where, for example, fatal force was necessary to defend oneself. The two most important offences of unlawful homicide are murder and manslaughter. Although both are common law offences, elements of murder and manslaughter have been modified by Acts of Parliament and the penalties for each are statutory. Until 1957, murder (the more serious of the two offences) was a capital offence – that is, a sentence of death automatically followed conviction. The Homicide Act 1957 drew a distinction between degrees of murder – capital and non-capital murder and provided that non-capital murder was to be punished with a life sentence. The distinction proved unsatisfactory and the death penalty was abolished by the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965. All those convicted of murder in England and Wales are now sentenced to life imprisonment. The penalty for manslaughter is at the discretion of the judge, with s.5 of the Offences Against the Person Act providing that the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. Murder and manslaughter share a common actus reus – the unlawful killing of a human being. The distinction between the offences is complicated by the fact that there are various forms of manslaughter. Murder and ‘involuntary manslaughter’ differ in terms of the mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind")or fault element required. Murder and ‘voluntary manslaughter’ are distinguished not in terms of mens rea but by the presence of one of three mitigating defences – provocation, diminished responsibility, and suicide pact.

In England and Wales, the incidence of offences of homicide is relatively low. Of the 903,993 violent crimes in England and Wales recorded by the police in 2008/9, homicides accounted for less than 0.1 per cent (651 deaths), a rate of around 1.25 per 100,000 population. (The British Crime Survey 2008/9 Home Office July 2009) Nevertheless crimes of homicide, and especially murder, are regarded as the most serious and abhorrent crimes. The taking of life and the impact that it can have on the family and friends of the victim give a special significance to offences involving the killing of another human being. The seriousness with which they are regarded is reflected in the maximum penalties. In the case of murder, the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 stipulates a mandatory sentence. The judge has no option but to sentence the person convicted of murder to a term of imprisonment for life. Section 269 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 requires the trial judge to state the minimum term that the convicted murderer should serve before he or she is eligible to be released on licence. This should reflect the seriousness of the murder and should be set by reference to one of three starting points: whole life, 30 years, and 15 years.

In February 2010 there were 34 prisoners serving whole life terms. A starting point of 30 years would be appropriate in cases where, for example, the victim was a police officer acting in the course of his or her duty or firearms or explosives were use. A starting point of 15 years is used where the longer terms are not considered appropriate for the case. Having chosen the starting point, the judge is required to fine tune the minimum term to be served by considering any additional aggravating or mitigating factors. When the minimum term has elapsed, the Parole Board for release on licence may consider the prisoner. And even where a convicted murderer is released on licence, he or she may be recalled by administrative action if there is a breach of the conditions of the licence. So although the mandatory penalty may not mean that persons convicted of murder...

Bibliography: 1. ^ Gardner, Simon. (1995). "Manslaughter by Gross Negligence" 111 Law Quarterly Review 2.
2. ^ Law Commission Consultation Paper No. 177, A New Homicide Act for England and Wales.
3. ^ Law Commission Report No. 304, Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide.
4. ^ The Offences against the Person Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.100), section 5; the Criminal Justice Act 1948 (11 & 12 Geo.6 c.58), section 1(1).
5. ^ Criminal Law - Smith & Hogan.
6. ^ University of London’s Online Library.
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