Sections 31A, B and C of the Crimes Act deal with suicide.
Suicide is no longer an offence, which means that you cannot be charged with attempting to commit suicide.
However, if you encourage, counsel, aid or abet another person to commit suicide, you could face criminal charges, even if the suicide does not eventuate. Generally, it will be enough that the other person attempted to commit suicide.
Being charged with assisting or encouraging someone to commit suicide can be a highly distressing and upsetting experience. However, the first step when it comes to fighting the charges is understanding what the law says about suicide.
Each of the sections relating to suicide is discussed briefly below:
Section 31A – Suicide and attempts to commit suicide
This section states that suicide and attempts to commit suicide are no longer considered to be crimes.
Section 31B – Suicide pacts
Section 31B says that if you are the survivor of a suicide pact, you cannot be charged with murder or manslaughter, however you may be charged with aiding, abetting or encouraging someone to commit suicide under section 31C (discussed below).
A ‘suicide pact’ is an agreement between two or more persons which aims to result in the death of all persons involved.
If you wish to argue that you were part of a suicide pact, you will bear the onus of proving that a suicide pact existed.
Section 31C – Aiding etc suicide
Section 31C says that if you are found to have ‘aided or abetted’ the suicide of another person, you could face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
This involves situations where you assist someone in committing, or attempting to commit suicide through your words or conduct – for example, giving someone drugs when you know that they are going to use them to overdose.
Section 31C also says that it is an offence for you to ‘incite or counsel’ another person to commit suicide. This includes bullying, harassing or advising someone to commit suicide. If that person ends up committing, or attempting to commit suicide as a result of your conduct, you could face a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
Sections 31A, B and C of the Crimes Act 1900, which deal with the issue of suicide, read as follows:
31A Suicide and attempt to commit suicide
The rule of law that it is a crime for a person to commit, or to attempt to commit, suicide is abrogated.
31B Survivor of suicide pact
(1) The survivor of a suicide pact shall not be guilty of murder or manslaughter but may be guilty of an offence under section 31C.
(2) In this section, “suicide pact” means a common agreement between 2 or more persons having for its object the death of all of them, whether or not each is to take his or her own life, but nothing done by a person who enters into a suicide pact shall be treated as being done by the person in pursuance of the pact unless it is done while the person has the settled intention of dying in pursuance of the pact.
(3) The onus of proving the existence of a suicide pact shall lie with the accused person on the balance of probabilities.
31C Aiding etc suicide
(1) A person who aids or abets the suicide or attempted suicide of another person shall be liable to imprisonment for 10 years.
(a) a person incites or counsels another person to commit suicide, and
(b) that other person commits, or attempts to commit, suicide as a consequence of that incitement or counsel,
the first mentioned person shall be liable to imprisonment for 5 years.
The law in relation to suicide can be complicated and difficult to understand, so if you are facing charges under any of these sections, it’s in your best interests to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers has been representing clients in these complex matters for many years. As a firm that exclusively practices criminal law, our lawyers have a thorough knowledge of the law relating to suicide, as well as how to best fight the charges.
Our expert defence lawyers will be happy to provide advice on any available defences, as well as any problems with the prosecution case that we can raise to have the charges dropped at an early stage.
Even if you simply want to plead guilty to the charges, our lawyers can put forth your case in the most compelling and positive light to ensure that you get the most lenient outcome in your matter.
To get the best possible result in your suicide matter, you need Sydney’s best criminal lawyers on your side. Call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and let us help you win your suicide case.