Murder is probably the most serious offence in the criminal calender.
It is committed when a person of “sound mind” unlawfully kills another, with the intention to either kill or cause “serious harm”. This offence must be tried at a Crown Court before a judge and jury. If convicted, Murder carries a mandatory life sentence for an adult. Youths convicted under the age of 18 are detained “at Her Majesty’s pleasure”.
This in effect means that the length of the sentence in real terms, or ‘the tariff’, will vary depending on individual circumstances. These can include the way in which the offence was committed and whether or not the defendant has any previous convictions.
When a person kills someone but intends only to hurt them, or to exert some force on them, this is called manslaughter, and is generally considered to be a much less serious offence. With murder, the intention of the attacker has to be to either commit really serious harm or to kill. With manslaughter, although the end result is a death, the attacker must only be intending to do some harm, or being negligent or reckless as to whether some harm would be involved.
To be guilty of attempted murder, the Defendant must have the intention to kill another, and have done something “more than merely preparatory” to commit the killing. The only difference is that the victim survives. As the intent has to be to cause serious harm, the defendant is often charged alternatively with causing grevious bodily harm .
Defences To Murder
General defences which also apply to murder include self-defence and defence of another, but certain defences, such as provocation, only apply to murder.
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