Saved Pages

Save articles and pages you’re most interested in. You will find them quickly to read on later.


Criminal Lawyers for Murder and Manslaughter – section 18 Crimes Act 1900

Being accused of an extremely serious criminal offence such as murder or manslaughter can be a nerve-racking experience for you and your family.

However, our leading team of Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers will leave no-stone-unturned when it comes to defending you.

Our firm regularly represents client in murder and manslaughter cases, and has an exceptional track record including having charges withdrawn at an early stage and achieving not guilty verdicts.

So don’t hesitate to call us to arrange for one of our Senior Lawyers to see you or your-loved one wherever they may be.

About Homicide

Homicide refers to the killing of one person by another.

Under the law, there are two distinct categories of unlawful homicide:

1. Murder – which refers to killing a person with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm, and

2. Manslaughter – which refers to the unintentional killing of another person.

Murder – s 18

Murder is defined as the unlawful and intentional killing of another human being.

It is the most serious criminal charge and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

To be found guilty of murder, the prosecution must establish two factors beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You intended to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon the other person
  • Your actions or omissions caused the other person’s death

If you believe that these two elements cannot be made out, you may wish to fight the charge by pleading ‘not guilty.’

Our highly-experienced senior defence team can then work with you to argue against the charges and protect your innocence.

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, we are passionate about protecting our clients’ freedom, and we have extensive experience winning some of the most complex murder cases.

In many cases, we are able to have charges dropped at an early stage by finding issues with the prosecution case – for example, where there is not enough evidence to prove that your actions resulted in the other person’s death.

By pushing for the charges to be dropped or downgraded before the matter proceeds to court, we often spare clients the stress and expense involved in a Supreme Court trial.

Should your matter proceed to court, we guarantee that you will only be represented by one of our senior criminal lawyers – outstanding lawyers with a proven track record of winning murder cases.

We can also advise you of any defences that could explain your conduct or reduce the seriousness of your actions, for example:

Murder is a serious criminal offence and accordingly it can only be dealt with by the Supreme Court.

Should you wish to plead ‘not guilty,’ you will have to under a criminal trial to determine your guilt. These trials are often lengthy and complex.

Pleading Guilty

If you do not want to fight the charges, you may wish to speak to one of our senior defence lawyers about pleading ‘guilty’ to the charges.

If you choose to plead ‘guilty’ from the outset, you will proceed straight to sentencing, which is where the justice determines the type and length of the penalty that you will receive.

Often, pleading guilty at an early stage will result in a more lenient penalty as the justice will take the fact that you have accepted responsibility for your actions into account.

However, before entering a plea to any offence, you should consult one of our criminal law experts, as there may be some way to fight the charges in court.

The various penalties that the court can impose include:

Being charged with a serious criminal offence such as murder can be stressful, and naturally you will want to know what kind of penalties you will be facing.

The maximum penalty for murder is life imprisonment, however this is usually reserved only for the most serious offences.

Often, the sentence received will be much lower than this depending on the facts and circumstances of your case – certain factors may increase the seriousness of the offence and attract a harsher penalty, while other factors may decrease the seriousness of the offence, resulting in lesser penalties.

Our highly experienced senior lawyers can persuasively highlight any factors which make your actions less serious to help you secure a lenient penalty.

More Information on Murder

When you’re facing complex criminal charges such as murder, it can be difficult to understand the law and how it could affect you.

We have provided some additional information below to help you understand what a murder charge involves, and how it could affect your life.

What does the prosecution have to prove?

To be found guilty of murder, the prosecution must establish two key factors beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. You intended to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon the other person:

There are four different categories of murder. The prosecution must establish at least one of these categories beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Where you had an intention to kill the other person: The prosecution must prove that you intended to kill the other person. This is different to the charge of manslaughter, which involves the unintentional or accidental killing of another person.
  • Where you had an intention to inflict grievous bodily harm upon the other person: The prosecution must show that you only intended to cause the other person grievous bodily harm, but it resulted in the other person’s death. Grievous bodily harm refers to any ‘permanent or serious disfiguring’ of another person.
  • Where you acted with ‘reckless indifference to human life’:  The prosecution must prove that you knew, or should have known that your actions would probably result in the other person’s death.
  • Where the other person died while you were committing a serious offence that attracts a maximum penalty of at least 25 year imprisonment: You can also be convicted of murder where the other person died while you were committing a crime which attracts 25 years or more imprisonment – for example, where you are sexually assaulting someone and they die during the assault.

2. Your actions or omissions caused the other person’s death:
The prosecution must show that your actions were the ‘substantial and significant cause’ of the other person’s death.

In some cases, there may be some other substantive cause of the person’s death – for example, they may be suffering an illness which may contribute to their death. In these situations, you may escape conviction as the prosecution will not be able to prove this element beyond a reasonable doubt.

What penalties could I face?

The maximum penalty for murder is life imprisonment, however this is usually reserved only for the most serious offences.

Often, the sentence received will be much lower than this depending on the facts and circumstances of your case – certain factors may increase the seriousness of the offence and attract a harsher penalty, while other factors may decrease the seriousness of the offence. For example, the court can consider things like:

  • Your intention to commit the offence: Generally, an intention to commit only grievous bodily harm is less serious than an intention to kill.
  • The characteristics of the deceased: The murder of certain people will be considered to be more serious than others; for example where the person killed is a public official such as a police officer, emergency services worker, health professional or a teacher.  A standard non-parole period of 25 years will apply in these cases, which means that the minimum term that you will spend in prison is 25 years. This is also the case where the decease person is a child under the age of 18 years.

Generally, murder carries a standard non-parole period of 20 years, which means that the minimum time that you will spend in prison is 20 years.

Statistics indicate that the average sentence imposed upon someone convicted of murder is 25 years, with an average non-parole period of 20 years. However, ultimately it will be for the judge to determine what kind of penalty is appropriate in the circumstances.

Manslaughter – s 18

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person in less serious than murder. It differs from murder as it refers to the unintentional or accidental killing of another person through your actions or omissions.

Obviously, being charged with the death of another person can be extremely upsetting and stressful for everyone involved. However, with the right lawyers on your side, you can increase your chances of getting the best possible result.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

There are four circumstances that give rise to manslaughter. To be found ‘guilty’ of manslaughter, the prosecution must prove that the other person’s death arose either:

  • Due to criminal negligence – i.e. where you owed the deceased a ‘duty of care,’ or
  • As a result of your unlawful and dangerous actions, or
  • Because you were acting in excessive self-defence, or
  • Due to an omission (lack of action) on your part

If you feel that the prosecution will not be able to prove that the other person’s death arose due to one of these four scenarios, you may wish to discuss the option of pleading ‘not guilty’ with one of our Accredited Criminal Law Specialists.

Our senior defence team specialises in homicide cases and has years of experience defending and winning complex manslaughter cases, so you can rest assured that they are well equipped to advise you of the best steps to take when it comes to fighting the charges.

Our persistent lawyers can also push to have the charges dropped before you go to court by raising any problems or deficiencies with the prosecution case – for example, where there is insufficient evidence to prove that your actions led to the other person’s death.

Our manslaughter experts can also assist you in raising any defences to your actions to increase your chances of being found ‘not guilty.’

Pleading Guilty

If you decide to plead guilty to manslaughter, you will proceed to sentencing, which is where the justice determines the type of penalty that you will receive.

Pleading guilty early on can be beneficial in some cases, as it shows that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. The justice may therefore be more inclined to impose a lenient penalty.

Pleading guilty also means that you will avoid a lengthy and costly criminal trial to determine your guilt, which can be a source of additional stress.

However, before pleading guilty, you should speak to our experienced criminal defence team, who can advise you of any ways in which you can fight the charges in court.

Naturally, if you’re thinking about pleading guilty, you will want to know what type of penalty you could end up with.

Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment, however this penalty is usually only applied in the most serious manslaughter cases.

You may end up with a much lower penalty, and may even avoid gaol, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.

The various penalties that the court can impose include:

Our manslaughter specialists can help you obtain a more lenient penalty by portraying your case in a favourable light and by raising any ‘mitigating factors’ which lessen the seriousness of your actions – for example, your lack of a criminal record, or the remorse that you have shown.

You can find out more about the average penalties for manslaughter in the ‘More Information’ section below.

More Information on Manslaughter

When you’re facing criminal charges such as manslaughter, you will likely want to find out as much information as possible about the offence and how it could impact your life.

We have provided some additional information below which may assist you.

What are the four different types of manslaughter?

As discussed above, there are four different categories of manslaughter. In order to be found guilty of manslaughter, the prosecution must prove that the other person’s death came about due to one of these four circumstances:

1. Manslaughter by criminal negligence:

Manslaughter by criminal negligence arises where you owed the deceased a ‘duty of care,’ and a reasonable person in your position would have realised that your actions were negligent and posed a high risk of death or serious injury.

To be found guilty of manslaughter by criminal negligence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

(i) You had a duty of care to the accused:

The prosecution must show that you owed a duty of care to the other person. A duty of care is a legal obligation that you take reasonable care of another person in certain circumstances.

The law recognises a duty of care in four situations:

  • Where the law imposes a duty of care upon you – for example, when you drive you have a legal duty of care to other road users not to drive negligently;
  • Where your relationship with the other person implies a duty of care – for example, a teacher has a duty of care towards her students;
  • Where a duty of care arises due to a contractual relationship – for example, an employer has a duty of care towards their employees;
  • Where you assume a duty of care through your conduct. 

The judge will decide whether you owed a duty of care to the deceased person based on the facts and circumstances of your case.

(ii) You acted negligently and in breach of that duty of care:

The prosecution must show that your actions fell short of the duty of care that a ‘reasonable person’ would have exercised in the same circumstances. It won’t matter whether or not you believed that you were acting outside your duty of care.

The court will consider your actions from the perspective of an ordinary member of the public. If it is found that an ordinary member of the community would have acted differently in the same circumstances, you will be found to have acted negligently in breach of your duty of care.
A ‘reasonable person’ is someone of the same age and gender as you, with the same level of education and training. A reasonable person is someone who is not affected by drugs or alcohol.

(iii) Your negligent actions contributed to the other person’s death:

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions were a ‘substantial cause’ of the other person’s death.

Alternatively, they may prove that your actions accelerated the deceased’s death.

(iv) Your actions demanded criminal punishment:

The prosecution must prove that you deserve to be punished by the law because:

  • You breached the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised;
  • You knew or should have known that your actions were highly likely to result in serious injury or death;
  • Your negligence was so severe that it warrants legal punishment.

2. Manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act:

Manslaughter by an unlawful and dangerous act arises where you cause another person’s death by acting in a way that you knew, or should have known, could result in serious injury.

To be found guilty of manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act, the prosecution must prove that:

(i) Your actions were unlawful and resulted in the other person’s death:

The prosecution must prove that your actions were intentional and ‘substantially contributed’ to the other person’s death.  Your actions must have also been unlawful – i.e. it must be shown that you were not acting in self-defence or for some other lawful purpose.

(ii) A reasonable person in your position would have realised that your actions could result in serious injury:

The prosecution must show that your actions were dangerous. Your actions will be found to be ‘dangerous’ where a reasonable person in your position would have realised that your actions had a probability of inflicting serious injury upon another person.

It will not matter whether or not you believed that your actions were dangerous.

A ‘reasonable person’ is someone of the same age and gender as you, with the same level of education and training. A reasonable person is someone who is not affected by drugs or alcohol.

3. Manslaughter by Excessive Self-Defence

In situations where you were acting to protect yourself, your property or another person, you may be able to justify your actions on the basis of self-defence. However, to be found ‘not guilty’ on the basis of self-defence, you must prove that your actions were reasonable in the circumstances.

Where you act unreasonably in exercising self-defence and your actions result in the death of the other person, you may be charged with manslaughter by excessive self-defence.

To be found guilty of manslaughter by excessive self-defence, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

(i) You used force which resulted in the intentional or reckless killing of the other person:

It must be shown that your actions ‘substantially contributed’ to the other person’s death. Your actions may be shown to be intentional or reckless – i.e. that you knew, or should have known that they would result in the other person’s death.

(ii) Your were aware that your conduct was excessive and unreasonable:

The defence of self-defence is premised on the understanding that you honestly believed that your actions were reasonable in the circumstances.

The court will look at the situation from your perspective to determine whether you believed that your actions were reasonable at the time of the offence.

However, where it is shown that you knew that your actions were excessive or unreasonable, you will not be able to justify your actions on the basis of self-defence. Where your actions result in the death of the other person, you may be charged with manslaughter.

(iii) You acted to defend yourself or another person:

You must be able to prove that you were trying to protect yourself or someone else from another person. For example, where someone is attempting to hurt another person and you intervene to protect that person by assaulting the attacker.

4. Manslaughter by omission

Manslaughter by omission refers to situations where you had an obligation to perform some action, and you failed to do so. For example, where you are a parent and you fail to properly take care of your child, who dies as a result of malnourishment.

To be found guilty of manslaughter by omission, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

(i) Had a legal obligation to care for someone:

The prosecution must show that you owed a duty of care to the other person. A duty of care is a legal obligation that you take reasonable care of another person in certain circumstances.

For example, a parent or teacher has a duty of care to look after his or her children.

(ii) Omitted to do some action in line with your duty of care:

An omission is a failure to perform some act expected of a reasonable person with a duty of care – for example, a parent failing to seek medical assistance after his or her child is seriously injured.

The prosecution must show that your omission fell short of the duty of care that a ‘reasonable person’ would have exercised in the same circumstances. It won’t matter whether or not you believed that you were acting outside your duty of care.

The court will consider your actions from the perspective of an ordinary member of the public. If it is found that an ordinary member of the community would have acted differently in the same circumstances, you will be found to have acted negligently in breach of your duty of care.

A ‘reasonable person’ is someone of the same age and gender as you, with the same level of education and training. A reasonable person is someone who is not affected by drugs or alcohol.

(iii) Your omission substantially contributed to their death:

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your omission was a ‘substantial cause’ of the other person’s death.

What penalties could I face?

If you choose to plead ‘guilty’ from the outset to the charge, you will proceed straight to sentencing, which is where the judge determines the type and length of the penalty that you will receive.

The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 25 years imprisonment, however this is usually reserved only for the most serious offences.

Often, the sentence received will be much lower than this depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Statistics show that the average term of imprisonment for persons found guilty of manslaughter is 7 years in total. However, the average non-parole period is 4.5 years – meaning that the average person found guilty of manslaughter spends 4.5 years in gaol.

Certain factors may increase the seriousness of the offence and attract a harsher penalty, while other factors may decrease the seriousness of the offence. The judge will award the appropriate penalty after looking at all the facts and circumstances of your case.

Case Studies

Homicide is a particularly complex area of the law.

It is our principal Mr Ugur Nedim’s speciality and he has successfully defended a range of extremely difficult and complex murder and manslaughter trials throughout his career.

Examples include the highly-publicised trial of Mr Hoang Thanh Lu who was charged with murder after stabbing another inmate 67 times.

The man he killed was a convicted murderer and Vietnamese ‘Five T’ gang member who was promoted to the position of ‘sweeper’ within the prison system.

The deceased was convicted of a horrific crime at a ‘lovers lane’ on the banks of the Georges River, where he and two other men confronted a couple, tied up the male, then gang raped and murdered his girlfriend in front of him. The male survived.

The deceased had been raping other inmates in prison for several years. On the day in question, inmates were working at the prison tailor shop when the deceased attempted to drag Mr Lu’s friend into the toilet area to rape him. Mr Lu attempted to stop the deceased who then pulled out a knife. Mr Lu grabbed scissors and stabbed the deceased 67 times to his face and body in two sustained attacks lasting 2-3 minutes.

Mr Lu was intent on pleading ‘not guilty’ on the ground of self-defence.

He was advised by other criminal law firms that he could not do so as the attack was too lengthy and vicious to constitute self defence.

Mr Nedim defended Mr Lu and he was found ‘not guilty’ of all charges.

Other examples include the 2003 ‘gang wars’ between the Darwiche and Razzak families, which involved a number of ‘drive by’ and ‘assassination-style’ murders.

Mr Nedim also represented well-known accused murderers Patrick Parkinson and Jeffrey Wayne Tucker.

He recently had all charges dropped for our 28 year old client from Bankstown. Mr Nedim wrote a detailed letter to the prosecution highlighting problems in the prosecution case. The prosecution initially offered reduced charges but ultimately withdrew all charges against our client.

Mr Nedim also succeeded in having all charges withdrawn against a 41 year old Hunters Hill man charged with killing an elderly lady at her residence. Again, Mr Nedim wrote detailed submissions to the DPP and the charges were withdrawn.

These are just a few examples of Mr Nedim’s successful defence of homicide cases.

He is also highly successful in having murder charges downgraded when the evidence against a client is strong. In these cases, murder can often been reduced to manslaughter. Clients certainly benefit from Mr Nedim’s specialist experience, clout and expertise in murder, manslaughter and ‘intent to murder’ cases.

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 ResultsSydney 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 SatisfactionWe 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 FirmWe 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 FeesWe 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 AppointmentFor 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 GuaranteeWe 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 CourtsFrom 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 SpecialistsOur 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 FirmOur 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 YouOur 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 JudgesEach 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. ConvenienceWe have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
    • the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
    • Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
    • Parramatta, near the justice precinct.

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, 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.

Related Videos

Recent Success Stories

Recent Articles

Main Menu

Follow Us

Search Our Site enter search term and press GO

Saved Articles & Pages

APPOINTMENT BOOKING FORM * mandatory fields

Preferred date for conference
Preferred time for conference
Briefly describe your situation:
Do you have a court date?

Your Review & Rating * mandatory fields

Review Text *
Rating (optional)