Section 24 Crimes Act 1900 | Manslaughter


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Manslaughter refers to situations where you accidently or unintentionally caused the death of another person in circumstances that are less serious than murder.

In contrast, murder refers to the deliberate or reckless killing of another person.

There are generally four situations which give rise to manslaughter:

  • Where you owed the deceased person a ‘duty of care’ and a reasonable person would have realised that your actions were negligent and could result in death or serious injury; OR
  • Where someone is killed as a result of your unlawful and dangerous actions, which you knew or should have known could result in serious injury; OR 
  • Because you act excessively or unreasonably in defending yourself, another person or your property, and your actions cause the death of another person; OR
  • Where you were legally supposed to perform some action and you failed to do so (manslaughter by omission).

You can read more about manslaughter on our manslaughter offence page.

Section 24 of the Crimes Act 1900 says that if you are found guilty of manslaughter in any of the above situations, you could face a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.

However, it’s important to remember that this is a maximum penalty, which means that it will only apply in the most serious manslaughter cases.

An experienced criminal defence lawyer can help persuade the court to give you a much lighter penalty based on the facts and circumstances of your case.

Alternatively, if you wish to argue that you did not commit the offence, a good criminal lawyer will be able to advise you about your options, including any defences that you could raise to explain or justify your actions.

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we specialise in murder and manslaughter cases. Our senior defence team consists of Accredited Criminal Law Specialists – recognised experts who have a proven track record of obtaining excellent results in complex criminal cases.

Our expert knowledge and understanding of this complicated area of law allows us to effectively fight manslaughter charges and obtain the best results for our clients, time and time again.

Your freedom is your most valuable asset, so don’t leave it in the hands of inexperienced junior lawyers. Call the manslaughter experts today on (02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first conference to discuss how we can help you win your case.

The Legislation

Section 24 of the Crimes Act 1900 deals with the punishment for manslaughter, and reads as follows:

24 Manslaughter-punishment

Whosoever commits the crime of manslaughter shall be liable to imprisonment for 25 years:

Provided that, in any case, if the Judge is of the opinion that, having regard to all the circumstances, a nominal punishment would be sufficient, the Judge may discharge the jury from giving any verdict, and such discharge shall operate as an acquittal.