Murder and manslaughter are crimes that fall under the act of homicide and involve the death of a human being. Murder involves intentionally killing a person, whilst manslaughter is when you kill someone without intending to do so.
Penalty for murder vs manslaughter
If a person is found guilty of murder, then they must be given a life sentence under UK law. The judge will declare the minimum time you must spend in prison, after which you may be considered for parole. With manslaughter, there is no mandatory sentence, and the consequences can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the offence. You may receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years or be given a suspended term of imprisonment. The latter is when the sentence can be suspended for up to two years, and you will be asked to adhere to certain requirements set by the court. In some cases, you may be asked to carry out a specified link of community service.
As you can see, it is preferable to be charged with manslaughter as it is a lesser offence and does not carry a penalty of life imprisonment. You must speak to an experienced criminal solicitor to deal with your case from the outset. Your criminal solicitor will create a strong defence for your case.
You can put forward a complete defence in an attempt to absolve you of all blame, or you can put forward a partial defence and plead voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter instead of murder.
What is voluntary manslaughter?
There are three main forms of manslaughter in UK law. Voluntary manslaughter is when a person has been killed intentionally but for some legally recognised mitigating factor. Examples of voluntary manslaughter include ‘crimes of passion’, which are carried out as a result of strong emotions or the influence of drugs and alcohol. Self-defence is often another example of voluntary manslaughter. Charges will depend on the provocation and whether or not it is justifiable that any normal human being would have done the same in that situation. Your criminal solicitor will put together a defence that shows that you were provoked and that your actions were not premeditated.
The next is involuntary manslaughter, which includes cases of gross negligence manslaughter and unlawful act manslaughter. Unlawful act manslaughter is when you have carried out a criminal act that is dangerous and causes the death of the victim. Examples include assaulting a parent and causing the death of their baby, driving dangerously and killing a pedestrian or committing a robbery and hurting a bystander, resulting in their death.
Gross negligence manslaughter is when the defendant had a duty of care towards the person they have killed and they neglected that duty, causing the death of the victim. Examples include a doctor giving their patient a lethal dose of a drug, resulting in their untimely death.
Speak to your criminal solicitor immediately if you find yourself under arrest or called in for questioning about murder or manslaughter and let them help you put forward the best possible defence for your case.