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Section 18 Crimes Act 1900

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.

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:

The Legislation

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. 

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

Choosing the right legal team to defend your reputation and interests can be a difficult process. However, it is always important to look at a firm’s experience and results when making this decision.

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, we have extensive experience defending and winning some of the most complex criminal matters – so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands.

Our criminal law specialists will take the time in every case to carefully scrutinise all the evidence in order to identify problems with the prosecution case at an early stage in the proceedings.

Where issues are found, our lawyers will write to the prosecution asking to have the charges dropped on this basis – often sparing our clients the considerable time and expense associated with defended hearings.

However, should your matter proceed to court, our senior lawyers will represent you and present a strong defence case to maximise your chances of being found ‘not guilty.’

Our senior lawyers are highly skilled advocates who have been recognised for their expert knowledge of the criminal law, as well as their ability to obtain excellent results in difficult cases.

We can assist you in avoiding the harsh penalties imposed by the law if you simply wish to plead guilty – in these cases, our experienced advocates can prepare and present compelling sentencing submissions which focus on any positive factors of your case.

For the best defence in your case, get the experts on your side today.

Call us now on (02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first conference with our criminal law specialists.

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