Murder is generally considered to be the most serious criminal offence. It shares a close relationship to the offence of manslaughter.
In NSW an act or a failure to act that results in the death of another person is considered to be a “homicide”. Homicides are then divided into two categories; murder and manslaughter.
Murder is the more serious type of homicide where the offender is alleged to have intended to kill or seriously injure the victim, or where they have acted with reckless indifference to the victim’s life.
A person can be charged with murder if they did, or failed to do something that resulted in the death of another person where they also intended to kill or seriously injure the person, or where they have foreseen that it is probable that death will result.
The maximum penalty for murder is imprisonment for life.
The Offence of Murder:
The offence of Murder is contained in section 18 of of the Crimes Act. The section states:
- Murder shall be taken to have been committed where the act of the accused, or thing by him or her omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, or done in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission, by the accused, or some accomplice with him or her, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for life or for 25 years.
- Every other punishable homicide shall be taken to be manslaughter.
- No act or omission which was not malicious, or for which the accused had lawful cause or excuse, shall be within this section.
- No punishment or forfeiture shall be incurred by any person who kills another by misfortune only.
What Actions Might Constitute Murder?
Examples of Murder include:
- Shooting someone in the head or chest from close range;
- Being the getaway driver for two friends who take loaded sawn off shotguns into a bank robbery and shoot someone in the process;
- Purposefully not feeding your child;
- Demolishing or blowing up a building without checking whether or not anyone is inside;
- Attacking someone with a baseball bat because you want to seriously injure them; or
- Pushing someone off a 30m cliff.
What the Police Must Prove:
To convict you of murder the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:
- That you did an act or failed to do an act;
- That the act, or failure to act, resulted in the death of another person; and
- That you either:
- Intended to kill the person;
- Intended to cause the person really serious bodily injury; or
- Acted with reckless indifference to human life; that is, you foresaw that it was probable that death would result.
Possible Defences for Murder:
The common ways to defend this charge are:
- To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
- To argue that you did not do an act or did not fail to act;
- To argue that you did not cause the death of the person;
- To argue that you did not intend to kill the person;
- To argue that you did not intend to cause the person really serious injury;
- To argue that you did not foresee that it was probable that death would result; or
- To raise self defence, necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
The offence is a strictly indictable offence and must be finalised in the District or Supreme Court.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.