Murder and Manslaughter
It’s worth understanding the difference between murder and manslaughter. Manslaughter is still serious but it is a lesser charge than murder. If you do not have a complete defence to the charge (like if the prosecution can prove that your action caused the death of another person) it may be your best outcome.
Murder is the planned and premeditated unlawful killing of another person. Manslaughter is an unintentional action which caused the death of another person, either in the heat of the moment (‘voluntary manslaughter’) or via pure accident (‘involuntary manslaughter’). The fundamental difference between the two is whether you intended to kill someone or not. To decide what your intention was, the Supreme Court will look at both written and oral evidence from a range of experts and lay witnesses.
For murder charges, the penalty is a term of imprisonment with the maximum penalty being a life sentence. Manslaughter offences carry a maximum penalty of twenty five years imprisonment. First time offenders are more likely to serve ten years or less. There are other factors that affect the penalty that you may receive, including whether you have any previous convictions or associated charges. To understand your situation more clearly, speak to one of our good criminal lawyers. We’ll be able to give you a clear picture of what you’re facing and what the stakes are.
Of course, you may have an absolute defence and want to plead not guilty to any charge. We’ll give you our expert advice on what possible defences you may have and the strength of those defences. If we need to investigate your case further, our experienced team will gather evidence to support your defence and ensure that you are prepared at trial.
A murder or manslaughter trial is a long and drawn out process with many different procedural steps. It is important that you have legal representation right from the start of the process, because what you say and do in your interactions with the police and prior to the hearing can affect your chances of acquittal. Good legal representation can also mean the difference between being held on remand or out on bail prior to the hearing. As it can take years for a murder trial to be held, a successful bail application can help you minimise the effect of the charges on your life in the meantime.