Fatal offences

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In UK law a person can be found guilty of murder if he kills someone intending (see: Intention) to kill, or to do grevious bodily harm. Recklessness, which is part of the Mens Rea for many offences against the person, is not adequate for murder. It may, however, be adequate for manslaughter.

The fact that a person can be guilty of murder while attempting to commit GBH is a violation of the "correspondence principle", that says that a person's punishment should reflect the crime intended, and not another crime altogether. It has been argued that the Homicide Act (1957) abolished the ability to convict for murder on the basis of GBH, owing to s.1(1) which removes the offence of "constructive murder". It could be claimed that killing while doing GBH is just another kind of constructive murder, and has been abolished. However, courts have generally been reluctant to assume that an ancient principle has been overturned and, at present, a conviction for murder can be sustained where the intention was to do GBH.

It is also possible to be convicted of murder without causing the death of another through joint enterprise. If a person is a member of a group (particularly a gang), and foresees that the primary party might kill with the intention to kill or cause GBH, the secondary person can also be convicted of murder.

Murder has a mandatory life sentence, and is one of the few offences where there is no scope to offer consent as a defence. The one exception to this is in cases of Suicide pact.


English law recognises two metas of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary manslaughter has the same Actus Reus Mens Rea as murder, but an additional factor mitigates the crime. Currently three such factors are recognised:

Concerning involuntary manslaughter, there are two metas:

  • constructive manslaughter, where a person is killed in the execution of another crime (except GBH, which amounts to murder), and
  • manslaughter by gross negligence.
    UK LAW
    Criminal Law