Law Unit 3 murder reform evaluation points

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2006 law commission report published - "Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide", setting out exisiting problems.

  • Law on murder developed bit by bit, not coherent 
  • D can be convicted of murder, even if he just intended GBH
  • No defence avaliable if excessive force used in self defence
  • Durress is not avliable as a defence
  • Life sentence and sentencing guidelines do not allow sufficient differentiation in sentencing to cover the wide variety of levels of blameworthiness in the current law of murder

*Note that you don't need to know all six; I've picked three to learn in depth

1 - Bit by bit development of the law

  • Caused problems with meaning of "intention" (affects all specific intent offences)
  • S.8 of the CJA 1967 tried to make clearer: 

"A court or jury in determining whether a person has committed an offence-
a) Shall not be bound in law to infer that he intended or foresaw a result of his actions by reason only of its being a natural and probable consequence of those                 actions; but
b) Shall decide whether he did intend or forsee that result by refrence to all                         evidence, drawing such inferences from the evidence as appear proper in the                     circumstances

  • Main problem is on the law on "foresight of consequences" (R V NEDRICK)
  • R V MOLONEY ruled that foresight of consequences is not intention
  • However, the later case of R V WOOLLIN threw up a few more problems. The judge stated that intention is indeed found in the foresight of consequences; therefore the law is a little uncertain.
  • Is there a substantive rule of criminal law that foresight of consequences is intention, or is there only a rule of evidence that intent can be found from foresight of consequences?
  • R V MATTHEWS & ALLEYNE saw the Court of Appeal say that there was little to choose between a rule of evidence and one of substantive law, thus leaving it even more unclear.

2 - Serious harm rule

  • Present offence of murder is too broad
  • Current law states that if a person intended to cause GBH, and thus causes the…

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