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Criminal Law

Criminal Law (16th edn)

Michael Allen and Ian Edwards
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date: 18 July 2024

p. 3609. Homicidelocked

p. 3609. Homicidelocked

  • Michael J. Allen
  •  and Ian Edwards


Course-focused and contextual, Criminal Law provides a succinct overview of the key areas on the law curriculum balanced with thought-provoking contextual discussion. This chapter discusses offences of homicide: murder and manslaughter. Murder is unlawful homicide committed with ‘malice aforethought’, the penalty being life imprisonment. Manslaughter generally covers all unlawful homicides which are not murder. The punishment for this offence is in the discretion of the court. Manslaughter may be divided into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter arises where the accused has committed murder but circumstances of excuse or justification, either diminished responsibility or loss of self-control, are present, reducing his culpability. The chapter analyses the scope of these defences, situating them in the context of the abolition in 2009 of the provocation defence. Involuntary manslaughter is an unlawful killing where the accused lacked malice aforethought but otherwise had a state of mind which the law treats as culpable. Unlawful act manslaughter covers situations where a person has unlawfully killed as a result of committing an unlawful act, such as a punch. Gross negligence manslaughter covers situations where a person has unlawfully killed as a result of a gross breach of a duty of care owed to the victim. One of the chapter’s ‘The law in context’ features examines the sentencing for homicide offences in light of new guidelines from the Sentencing Council. A new ‘The law in context’ feature analyses the relevance of domestic abuse for the defences available to a woman charged with murdering her abusive partner.

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