Being charged with murder can be an extremely confronting and upsetting experience, however it can be beneficial to know what the law says when it comes to defending yourself in court.
By understanding the law in relation to murder, you can determine whether there is some way of fighting the charges and being found ‘not guilty.’
If you have been charged with murder it is in your best interests to get a highly experienced criminal lawyer on your side who can advise you and help you understand your options.
Section 18 of the Crimes Act says that you commit murder if your actions or omissions (failures to act) cause another person’s death.
Section 18 provides four situations which can bring about a murder charge. Before you can be found guilty of murder, the prosecution must prove that your actions fall into one of the following categories:
- Where you intended to kill the other person: This means that you must be shown to have deliberately caused the other person’s death through your actions or failure to act.
- Where you intended to inflict grievous bodily harm upon the other person: This means that you must be shown to have deliberately caused ‘grievous bodily harm’ to another person, which led to their death. Grievous bodily harm means ‘really serious harm,’ including permanent or serious disfigurements, such as broken bones and internal organ damage.
- Where you acted with ‘reckless indifference’ to human life: This refers to situations where you knew, or should have known, that your actions or omissions would probably result in another person’s death.
- Where the other person died while you were committing a serious offence: You can also be charged with murder if you caused another person’s death while committing another offence which attracts a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment – for example, if you kill someone during the course of a sexual assault.
You can read more about the charge of murder here.
Section 19A provides the maximum penalty for murder, which is life imprisonment – however this is the absolute maximum and only applies in the most serious murder cases.
Various other sections in the Crimes Act deal with murder in specific situations. You can click on the below links for more information:
- Section 19B – Murder of Police Officers
- Sections 20, 21 and 22 – Murder of a Child
- Section 22A – Infanticide
- Sections 27, 28, 29 and 30 – Attempted Murder
- Section 23 – Defence to Murder – Provocation
- Section 23A – Defence to Murder – Substantial Impairment
Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900, which deals with murder, reads as follows:
18 Murder and manslaughter defined
(a) Murder shall be taken to have been committed where the act of the accused, or thing by him or her omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, or done in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission, by the accused, or some accomplice with him or her, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for life or for 25 years.
(b) Every other punishable homicide shall be taken to be manslaughter.
(a) No act or omission which was not malicious, or for which the accused had lawful cause or excuse, shall be within this section.
(b) No punishment or forfeiture shall be incurred by any person who kills another by misfortune only.
If you’ve been charged with murder, it’s important to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible.
Being accused of murder can be a stressful and upsetting experience, however with the help of our specialist criminal lawyers, you can ensure that you get the best possible defence in your murder case.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® specialises in murder cases, and have successfully defended and won a large number of complex murder cases over the past 20 years.
No matter how serious the charges are, you can count on our highly respected Accredited Criminal Law Specialists to assist you in understanding the charges and advising you of your options, including any available defences that you can raise, such as duress, provocation or self-defence.
Your liberty is your most valuable asset – so don’t trust inexperienced lawyers to protect it. Call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and get Sydney’s murder experts on your side.