Defence for Murder

Updated on Wednesday 27th July 2016

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Murder is defined in legal terms as the “unlawful killing of a human being in Queen’s peace, with malice aforethought”. A murder conviction implies a mandatory life sentence. It is therefore imperative to have a defence solicitor in London  who can act in the defendant’s best interest in order to reduce such a conviction, for example by changing the allegations to manslaughter, which carries a smaller conviction.

The defence for murder can be achieved by complete defences, like an alibi or self defence, or partial defences.

There are three partial defences for murder which can reduce the sentence to voluntary manslaughter. These three partial defences are governed by the Homicide Act 1957 and consist of:

1.    diminished responsibility;
2.    loss of control;
3.    suicide pact.

1.    Diminished responsibility

Diminished responsibility is defined by Section 2 of the Homicide Act 1957 and implies that the author of the unlawful killing cannot be convicted of murder if he or she was “suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning”. 

The abnormality of mental functioning has to be caused by a recognized medical illness. A solicitor in London can direct you to the most reputable psychiatrists who can present their evidence in front of the court.

2.    Loss of control

This partial defence for murder was adopted in 2010 and replaced the defence of provocation. Loss of control implies that the author of a murder acted as a result of loss of self-control, which presented a qualifying trigger that any person in the same circumstances would have reacted in the same way. 

The loss of self-control must not be abrupt, that can be considered as a case of domestic violence or abuse, and it has to exclude acts of revenge.

3.    Suicide pact

A suicide pact is outlined as a mutual agreement between two or more persons which results in the death of all of them, implying or not that each will commit suicide, however no action taken by a person who enters such a pact will be treated as done in achievement of the pact, except if it is undertaken while he or she has the agreed intention of dying. 

The defence has to prove that the accused had the intention of dying in such a pact. An individual who only witnesses a suicide, without having the intention of entering a suicide pact, cannot adopt this type of defence and could be found liable for prosecution for witnessing a suicide according to the Suicide Act 1961.

If you are faced with allegations for murder, we can help you build a solid defence. Get in touch with us to speak with one of our criminal solicitors in London.


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