Manslaughter is a term used to describe homicides that fall short of murder.
In South Australia, you will be charged with manslaughter if you have caused the death of another person, however, you neither intended to cause that person’s death, you did not intend to cause them grievous bodily harm, nor were you recklessness as to whether death or grievous bodily harm would occur.
Manslaughter will usually be left to the jury as an alternative to murder where murder is charged.
In South Australia, the law recognises two broad categories of manslaughter – voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
A person may be convicted of voluntary manslaughter where they intentionally caused the death of another person (murder) but that conduct has been mitigated because a partial defence of provocation or self-defence is made out.
A person may be convicted of involuntary manslaughter where they have caused the death of a person but they did not intend to cause the death or grievous bodily harm and were not recklessness as to whether the death or grievous bodily harm would occur.
You will be guilty of manslaughter if a person dies because you acted in a way which created a real risk of serious injury to the victim, and you were acting unlawfully. An unlawful act is any criminal offence; usually this will be an assault.
Manslaughter is a very serious offence. We highly recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible, even before being charged by the police.
It can be a defence to a charge of manslaughter that:
- you were acting in self-defence;
- you were acting in defence of another;
- you were acting in defence of property;
- your action was involuntary;
- you were provoked; or
- it was not you that committed the act.
The law recognises that in some cases people will not be capable of evaluating the nature and quality of their conduct or more categorically, they will not know what they are doing is wrong. If it can be shown that you were suffering from some sort of mental disease, disorder or disturbance, as distinguished from a mere lack of self-control or impulsiveness, then you may have a defence to this charge.
Mental impairments may be either permanent or non-permanent and may include disorders such as:
- Psychomotor epilepsy
- Cerebral arteriosclerosis
This is a major indictable charge. The proceedings will initially commence in the Magistrates Court of South Australia. If there is sufficient evidence against you, the matter will then be transferred to the Supreme Court of South Australia.
If you are charged with this offence you definitely require the services of a lawyer – call us on (08) 8120 3778 or email [email protected] and our experienced criminal lawyers will be happy to answer your questions in relation to your charge of murder.