It is considered morally wrong to take the life of another human being. Accordingly, convictions for murder are met with severe punishment. Specifically, in England and Wales murder carries a mandatory life sentence. Cases that involve loss of life at the hands of another person must be handled with care by the courts, in order to gain justice for the victim’s family but also to ensure the defendant is given a fair trial.
With the possibility of life imprisonment, there is a lot at stake for someone facing allegations of murder. For this reason, it is very important to work with solicitors who have extensive knowledge in the law relating to homicide. Competent criminal defence lawyers will protect the defendant against injustice and will explore all options that will minimise the impact these allegations will have on the defendant’s life, including aiming for a downgraded charge, reduced sentence or acquittal.
Our firm has defended many clients against charges of murder and manslaughter, regularly as part of serious, complex and high profile cases. Our robust approach has meant we have experienced excellent results, including many acquittals and reduced charges. The team at Harris Solicitors are meticulous, leaving no stone unturned, in order to secure a satisfactory conclusion for our clients.
Below we will provide an overview of the law relating to homicide, the defences available for murder and how our firm approaches homicide cases. This is only intended to be an outline of such matters. If you are being investigated or prosecuted for murder you should gain advice from legal professionals experienced in this field. Please contact our dedicated team at any time, for advice relating to your situation.
Homicide encompasses all offences that involve the act of killing another person. The two main types of homicide are murder and manslaughter. Manslaughter, while a serious crime, is considered less serious than murder. As stated earlier, murder carries a mandatory life sentence. However, the maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment and the judge has discretion to pass a lower sentence where the circumstances of the case deem it appropriate. Thus, the defence team, where possible, will build a case for manslaughter rather than murder so as to avoid the mandatory life sentence. Where a charge is lowered to manslaughter, the defence team will also identify and assert any mitigating factors which should be taken into account when sentencing.
So, what is the difference between murder and manslaughter? Murder requires there to be an action that kills another person (e.g. shooting or stabbing) as well as the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to that person. In the case of involuntary manslaughter, the accused has carried out the act of murder but they lack the intention to kill. Rather, they caused death through gross negligence or recklessness. Where both the act and intention of murder are present, the charge may still be lowered to manslaughter when the circumstances of the case mean a partial defence is applicable (this is known as voluntary manslaughter).
Defences are categorised as ‘complete’ or ‘partial’. A complete defence will acquit the accused of the crime of murder; an example is self-defence. Partial defences mitigate the level of blame of the defendant and the charge of murder is lowered to manslaughter, permitting the judge discretion when sentencing. The three main partial defences are loss of control, diminished responsibility and suicide pact.
Whether a complete or partial defence is available will depend on the circumstances of the case. It is beneficial to instruct experienced serious crime solicitors as they will be adept in identifying whether a defence can be raised. In the situation where a complete defence is highly likely to succeed, court proceedings may not be initiated. Therefore, seeking appropriate legal advice as early as possible could prevent prolonging the situation.
Harris Solicitors have years of experience defending clients in murder and manslaughter cases. We work tenaciously when representing clients against these serious allegations, where so much is at stake. Our extensive knowledge of the law combined with the invaluable insight from the forensic experts we instruct, means every possibility for a satisfactory outcome is considered thoroughly. The following cases are evidence of how our firm’s rigorous approach has helped our clients.
R v Chambili – Harris Solicitors represented one of the several defendants in this serious case involving the stabbing and death of the victim. With the help of instructed experts, our lawyers examined and challenged thousands of pages of evidence, much of which concerned telephone communications. Following a lengthy trial, the defendant was acquitted of murder and released without delay.
R v Khan – The defendant in this case was charged with attempted murder. Harris Solicitors scrutinised and challenged each and every aspect of the case and ultimately the defendant was acquitted of all charges.
R v Salamm – This was another serious murder case in which the victim was stabbed to death. The facts of the case were complex and required extensive understanding of the elements of criminal law, including intent and causation. As a result of our thorough examination of the evidence and rigorous challenge of the prosecution’s case, the charge was reduced to manslaughter and the defendant received a five year prison sentence.
If you are under investigation or have been charged with a homicide offence, it is essential that you seek appropriate advice and representation at the earliest stage possible. Facing such allegations can be very worrying, but our experienced defence solicitors will talk you through your options, respect your interests and work hard to get you the best outcome possible.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide legal advice. Call Harris Solicitors on 01274 392 177. If you need to speak to us out with our normal operating hours, please call our emergency lines (07872835267 or 07590289197).
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