Murder vs manslaughter: what’s the difference?

Murder vs manslaughter: what’s the difference?

Both murder and manslaughter some of the most serious criminal offences that you could possible face. If you’ve been charged with either of these offences in Queensland, you should seek immediate assistance from criminal lawyers in Brisbane City. The maximum penalty for these crimes is life imprisonment, so seeking specialised criminal law representation is paramount to obtaining the best possible defence.

What is the difference between murder and manslaughter in Queensland?

On TV, murder is carefully planned and carried out in cold blood — perhaps out of jealousy or greed. In reality, it’s much more complex.

Murder, or homicide, is defined in the Criminal Code Act 1899 as causing someone’s death through a wilful or intentional act of bodily harm, or during the commission of a different illegal act if death is a reasonably foreseeable consequence.

For example, someone who means to cause grievous bodily harm, and whose victim dies, can be charged with murder. You could also be charged with murder if you rob a house and gag the homeowner, leading to their suffocation. The prosecution needs to prove that you knew that what you were doing would be likely to result in the person’s death. Otherwise, a manslaughter charge might be more appropriate.

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a person without intent but due to a careless, reckless or negligent act. This would apply if the action is not one that would usually result in death. For example, you are out shooting rabbits on your land and accidentally kill someone who has come to visit. Or you get into a wrestling match with someone, but they fall and hit their head, causing death.

What are the penalties for murder and manslaughter in Queensland?

The maximum penalty for both murder and manslaughter is life imprisonment. For murder, this penalty is mandatory, which means that the judge has to sentence you to life in prison, with the possibility of parole not less than 25 years

However, for manslaughter charges the penalty is not mandatory and is often lessened. The court will consider whether there are any aggravating or mitigating factors, like personal circumstances of the offender, the age of the offender and whether there are previous offences on record.

What are the possible defences to murder and manslaughter?

Our experienced criminal lawyers in Brisbane City can help you explore all possible defences depending on your circumstances. If you’ve been charged with murder, you can try and mount a complete defence and walk free, or a partial defence that would downgrade the charge to manslaughter.

Complete defences may include:

  • Self defence
  • Insanity
  • Duress

Partial defences may include:

  • Provocation
  • Impairment of mind
  • Lack of intent
  • Self-preservation in an abusive domestic relationship

If you’ve been charged with either murder or manslaughter in Queensland, call Hounsell Cunningham’s criminal lawyers in Brisbane City. Our legal experts will help you understand your options. Call us now on (07) 3188 5626 or find us online.