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Murder Charge & Manslaughter Lawyers
Murder is the unlawfully killing of another person where —
1. the person intends to cause the death of the person killed or another person; or
2. the person intends to cause a bodily injury of such a nature as to endanger or be likely to endanger, the life of the person killed or another person; or
3. the death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose, which act is of such a nature as to be likely to endanger human life,
Punishment for murder
An adult who is guilty of murder must be sentenced to life imprisonment unless —
1. that sentence would be clearly unjust given the circumstances of the offence and the person; and
2. the person is unlikely to be a threat to the safety of the community when released from imprisonment,
A child who is guilty of murder is liable to life imprisonment or detention until released by order of the Governor. If guilty of murder during an aggravated home burglary, the child must be sentences to at least 3 years in prison or juvenile detention. This sentence cannot be suspended.
Bail on a murder charge
A person charged with murder cannot be granted bail by the police or a magistrate. Only a Supreme Court judge or a Children’s Court judge can grant bail for murder charges. See Bail.
Defences to Murder
Depending on the circumstances, the following defences may arise in a murder case:
· Self-defence or defence of another
· Use of Force to Prevent Home Invasion
· Unwilled act
· Extraordinary Emergency
· Mistake of fact
Full defences to murder
Self-defence or defence of another person are full defences. An accused person who was acting in self-defence or in defence of another person is entitled to a finding of not guilty of murder and a full acquittal.
Use of Force to Prevent Home Invasion: The occupant of a dwelling may lawfully “use any force or do anything else that the occupant believes, on reasonable grounds, to be necessary” to prevent a home invader from wrongfully entering the dwelling, to cause them to leave, or to make effectual defence.
However, it is not lawful for the occupant to use force intended, or likely, to cause death to a home invader “unless the occupant believes, on reasonable grounds, that violence is being or is likely to be used or is threatened in relation to a person by a home invader.”
The home invader defence may apply in domestic violence situations, including where a family member is prohibited from entering a house.
Accident, unwilled act, duress, extraordinary emergency, and mistake of fact may also result in a not guilty verdict on a charge of murder.
Other defences to murder which may result in a not guilty verdict include immature age (the perpetrator was below the age of criminal responsibility), wrong identification (the wrong person was charged), lack of causation (the victim’s death was not caused by the accused person), and lack of involvement (the accused was not involved in the offence).
Partial defences to murder
Use of excessive force is another partial defence which reduces culpability from murder to manslaughter.
Intoxication may also afford a partial defence to murder. Where the court finds that the accused caused the death of the victim but the specific intent required for murder did not exist due to intoxication from drugs or alcohol, the accused may be found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Insanity, if successfully raised, does not lead to an acquittal in the ordinary sense. Instead, it can lead to detention in a psychiatric facility for an indefinite period.
Provocation is no longer a defence to murder.
If a person unlawfully kills another person in circumstances not constituting murder, the person is guilty of manslaughter.
Punishment for manslaughter
A person convicted of manslaughter can be sentenced to imprisonment for life.
If the offence is committed by an adult during an aggravated home burglary, the court must impose at least 15 years imprisonment.
If the offence is committed by a juvenile during an aggravated home burglary, the court must impose at least 3 years imprisonment or juvenile detention for at least 3 years. The sentence cannot be suspended.
Industrial manslaughter arises where the employer’s conduct causes the death of an employee. New industrial manslaughter offences are due to come into effect by January 2022. They will carry a maximum penalty for an individual of up to 20 years' imprisonment or a fine of $5 million. For a body corporate the maximum penalty will be $10 million.
Defences to manslaughter which can result in a not guilty verdict include; accident, unwilled act, duress, extraordinary emergency, mistake of fact, insanity, immature age, and the accused did not cause the victim’s death.
Unlawful assault causing death
If a person unlawfully assaults another who dies as a direct or indirect result of the assault, the person is guilty of a crime and can be imprisoned for up to 20 years.
The person who commits the assault is liable even if they do not intend or foresee the death of the other person and even if the death was not reasonably foreseeable.
Defences include provocation, duress, emergency, accident, identification, or causation.
Punishment for unlawful assault causing death
If the offence occurs during an aggravated home burglary, the court sentencing the offender must, impose a term of imprisonment of at least 15 years.
A juvenile who commits the offence during an aggravated home burglary must be sentenced to imprisonment or juvenile detention for a least 3 years. This sentence cannot be suspended.
Dangerous Driving Causing Death
A person who causes the death of a person whilst under the influence or by driving in a dangerous manner commits a crime under the Road Traffic Act. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 20 years.
Defences include causation.
Careless Driving Causing Death A person who causes the death of another person by driving without due care and attention commits a crime under the Road Traffic Act. The maximum penalty is three years imprisonment.
Defences include causation.
If you’re looking for expert criminal lawyers specialising in Murder, Manslaughter or Dangerous Driving Causing Death charges in Perth, WA, look no further than Andrews Legal. Contact us today if you or somebody you know needs assistance.