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Smith, Hogan and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law

Smith, Hogan and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law (5th edn)

John Child and David Ormerod
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date: 12 June 2024

p. 1726. Manslaughterlocked

p. 1726. Manslaughterlocked

  • David OrmerodDavid OrmerodProfessor of Criminal Justice, University College London Deputy High Court Judge Barrister, Bencher of Middle Temple
  •  and John ChildJohn ChildProfessor of Criminal Law, Birmingham Law School Co-Director of the Birmingham Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing Co-Director of the Criminal Law Reform Now Network


This chapter focuses on manslaughter, a common law homicide offence with an actus reus of unlawful conduct causing death. The chapter considers two categories of manslaughter: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter arises where D commits murder, but meets the criteria for one of the partial defences: loss of self-control, diminished responsibility, or suicide pact. Involuntary manslaughter arises where D does not commit murder, but commits a relevant manslaughter offence: unlawful act manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter, or reckless manslaughter. The chapter explains statutory offences of unlawful killing (corporate manslaughter, driving causing death, infanticide, killing of a foetus) and concludes by outlining options for legal reform concerning voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and the structure of manslaughter offences. Relevant cases are highlighted with a summary of the main facts and judgments.

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