Homicide - Complete.

A2 student notes for homicide

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The Key Principles
Homicide can be both lawful and unlawful. Unlawful homicide consists of murder, manslaughter and infantici
and all share a common actus reus:
"An unlawful killing of a reasonable creature in being under the Queens Peace".
The three substantive offences are distinguished in terms of mens rea, the circumstances and by certain mitigati
factors, e.g. provocation.
The Victim ­ a reasonable creature
By definition the victim must be a human being ­ a "reasonable creature" and therefore it is legally impossible
kill any other animal and be convicted of a homicide offence.
In Being
It is legally impossible to commit homicide against either a foetus or a corpse and therefore the moments of bir
and death must be defined.
The legal definition of birth requires two conditions to be satisfied:
The whole of the body must have emerged from the mother (Poulten (1832))
The child must have an existence independent of the mother. The most widely accepted test is firs
breath. (Brain (1834))
If these two conditions are not satisfied, D could be charged with the antenatal offences of either
abortion or child destruction.
The only possible exception arises where D inflicts antenatal injuries on a foetus which is later born aliv
but then dies of those injuries. D could be charged with a homicide offence in such circumstances.
Senior (1832) ­ manslaughter
West (1848) ­ murder

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There is no legal definition of death. The medical profession since 1976 has adopted the criteria of
brainstem death. This obviously has important legal repercussions with respect to life support machines
organ transplants etc. This issue has recently been brought into sharp focus by the Tony Bland case
which came before the House of Lords in 1993. In the case, the House seemed happy to take the best
medical view of death and allowed the doctors concerned to withdraw food from the patient.…read more

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The Key Principles
The prosecution must be able to prove that the criminal consequence was caused (accelerated) by the conduct of
D. Lawyers speak of a chain of causation linking the actus reus with its eventual consequence. If the chai
breaks, D must be acquitted.
Thus in a homicide case, the actions of D must be linked to the death. In a nonfatal offence against the person
D's actions must lead to the injury suffered by V etc.
NB.…read more

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The Key Principles
Murder is defined as:
"The unlawful killing of a reasonable creature in being and under the Queen's Peace,
with malice aforethought, express or implied."
From the definition, most of the elements have been discussed in the general definition of homicide. Only o
element remains:
Malice aforethought THE MENS REA
This is the mens rea for murder and consists of either
An intention to kill another human being (express malice aforethought)
An intention to cause gbh to another (implied malice aforethought)
NB.…read more

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This is the intention to cause gbh. Intention is defined exactly as above.
G.B.H. is defined as really serious harm, e.g. broken bones, internal injuries etc.
Further points
(1) The transferred malice rules apply to murder ­ see Mens Rea handout
Latimer (1986) can transfer malice from one V to another
Pembliton (1874) ­ cannot transfer malice from one crime to
What about a botched suicide attempt? E.g.…read more


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