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Section 23 Crimes Act 1900
Defence to Murder
Extreme Provocation

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The defence of extreme provocation is contained in section 23 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which provides that a person who would otherwise be guilty of murder, must instead be found guilty of manslaughter, if the act or omission that constituted the murder was in response to extreme provocation by the deceased.

Conduct occurred in response to extreme provocation if, and only if, the deceased’s conduct:

  1. Was towards or affected the defendant,
  2. Amounted to a serious indictable offence,
  3. Caused the defendant to lose self-control, and,
  4. Could have caused an ordinary person to lose self-control to the extent of intending to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm on the deceased.

A ‘serious indictable offence’ is one that carries a maximum penalty of at least 5 years in prison which includes larceny, stalking or intimidation and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

‘Grievous bodily harm’ has been defined by the courts as ‘really serious harm’ and includes any permanent or serious disfiguring, any grievous bodily disease and the destruction of a foetus.

The deceased’s conduct does not amount to extreme provocation if:

  1. It was only a non-violent sexual advance to the defendant, or,
  2. The defendant incited the conduct as an excuse to use violence towards the deceased.

Conduct can amount to extreme provocation even if it did not occur immediately before the deceased’s killing.

Evidence of self-induced toxication cannot be considered when determining whether an act occurred in circumstances of extreme provocation.

In the event the defendant is able to raise evidence of extreme prosecution, the onus then shifts to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the conduct was not due to extreme provocation.

The defendant must be acquitted if the prosecution is unable to do this.

The Legislation

Section 23 of the Crimes Act 1900, which deals with the partial defence of extreme provocation, reads as follows:

23 Trial for murder—partial defence of extreme provocation

(1) If, on the trial of a person for murder, it appears that the act causing death was in response to extreme provocation and, but for this section and the provocation, the jury would have found the accused guilty of murder, the jury is to acquit the accused of murder and find the accused guilty of manslaughter.

(2) An act is done in response to extreme provocation if and only if:
(a) the act of the accused that causes death was in response to conduct of the deceased towards or affecting the accused, and
(b) the conduct of the deceased was a serious indictable offence, and
(c) the conduct of the deceased caused the accused to lose self-control, and
(d) the conduct of the deceased could have caused an ordinary person to lose self-control to the extent of intending to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm on the deceased.

(3) Conduct of the deceased does not constitute extreme provocation if:
(a) the conduct was only a non-violent sexual advance to the accused, or
(b) the accused incited the conduct in order to provide an excuse to use violence against the deceased.

(4) Conduct of the deceased may constitute extreme provocation even if the conduct did not occur immediately before the act causing death.

(5) For the purpose of determining whether an act causing death was in response to extreme provocation, evidence of self-induced intoxication of the accused (within the meaning of Part 11A) cannot be taken into account.

(6) For the purpose of determining whether an act causing death was in response to extreme provocation, provocation is not negatived merely because the act causing death was done with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm.

(7) If, on the trial of a person for murder, there is any evidence that the act causing death was in response to extreme provocation, the onus is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the act causing death was not in response to extreme provocation.

(8) This section does not exclude or limit any defence to a charge of murder.

(9) The substitution of this section by the Crimes Amendment (Provocation) Act 2014 does not apply to the trial of a person for murder that was allegedly committed before the commencement of that Act.

(10) In this section: Act includes an omission to act.

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.

Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:

  1. Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results

    Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases.

    Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial.

    Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.

    We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.

    Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.

  2. Highest Level of Client Satisfaction

    We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia.

    Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities.

    We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.

    We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.

  3. Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm

    We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running.

    The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.

  4. Fixed Fees

    We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004.

    We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.

    Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.

  5. Free First Appointment

    For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers.

    We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.

  6. Specialist Lawyer Guarantee

    We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court.

    This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.

  7. All NSW Courts

    From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases.

    And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.

  8. Accredited Specialists

    Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists.

    All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005.

    An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field.

    Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.

    Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.

  9. Results-Focused Law Firm

    Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet.

    The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’.

    Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.

    No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.

    The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.

  10. Team of Lawyers Behind You

    Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide.

    Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.

    A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.

    In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.

  11. Familiar with Magistrates and Judges

    Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state.

    Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.

  12. Convenience

    We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD offices, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.

    For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.

    If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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