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If you are concerned you may be facing charges for Murder, or are already facing charges, it is essential you contact us as quickly as possible. Phone us now on 0114 256 0111, or email us or use the form on this page.
The crime of Murder
Subject to three exceptions the crime of murder is committed, where a person:
- of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane);
- unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing);
- any reasonable creature (human being);
- in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs
- under the Queen’s Peace;
- with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH).
A British subject can be indicted for murder or manslaughter in England and Wales even when he commits the offence outside the jurisdiction. The nationality of the victim is immaterial: section 9 Offences against the Person Act 1861.
Murder cannot be committed by a company or other corporation.
For the principal defendant, the intent for murder is the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), nothing less. Foresight is no more than evidence from which the jury may draw the inference of intent.
In contrast to the offence of murder, attempted murder requires the existence of an intention to kill, not merely to cause grievous bodily harm. The requisite intention to kill can be inferred by the circumstances.
Where two people are jointly indicted for the commission of a crime and the evidence does not point to one rather than the other, and there is no evidence that they were acting in concert, the jury ought to acquit both. This equally applies to homicide offences.
Where association evidence is relied on, the circumstances of the association of the suspect with the principal offender, together with the other evidence in the case, must give rise to the inference that the suspect was assisting or encouraging the principal’s offence
A causal link must be shown between the act/omission and the death.
The act or omission must be a substantial cause of death, but it need not be the sole or main cause of death. It must have “more than minimally negligibly or trivially contributed to the death.”
It does not matter that the act/omission by the defendant merely “hastened” the victim’s death.
What is an intervening act in a murder charge?
To break the “chain of causation” an intervening act must be such that it becomes the sole cause of the victim’s death so as to relieve the defendant of liability.
Examples of intervening acts are:
- Third party interventions: such an act will not break the chain unless it was a free, deliberate, informed, voluntary act, which was not reasonably foreseeable by a reasonable person.
- Acts of God or nature can break the chain if entirely unforeseen and unconnected with the defendant’s act.
- An act of the victim will break the chain if not within the range of response which might be anticipated from a victim in his situation. Note:Reeves v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (HOL) 2000 1 AC 560 where it was accepted that if the police were aware that the prisoner was a known suicide risk then a special duty of care existed and that Novus actus interveniens did not apply where he then went on to commit suicide.
- Death resulting from any normal medical treatment employed to deal with a criminal injury must be regarded as caused by the criminal injury. It is only in the most extraordinary case that treatment designed to repair the harm done by the original attack could be regarded as the cause of the victim’s death to the exclusion of the accused’s act.
Partial Defences to Murder
Partial defences, are different to complete defences, such as self-defence, as they bear all the ingredients of murder but if successfully argued, reduce the offence to an act of” voluntary manslaughter” not murder.
There are three partial defences to murder: diminished responsibility, loss of control and killing in pursuance of a suicide pact.
In addition there is a so called ‘concealed’ partial defence, created by legislation in the act of infanticide, see below in this guidance.
Duress is not a defence to a charge of murder or attempted murder.
This article is based on public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0. The original information can be found here; https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/public-order-offences-incorporating-charging-standard