Are you facing a manslaughter charge? Here at JD Solicitors, we understand just how upsetting, and terrifying this can be. Indeed, manslaughter charges are some of the most serious under English law, and that means you’ll want a representative from our expert criminal law defence team with you, every step of the way. Keep reading to find out more about manslaughter chargers, and how we can help you fight your defence. 

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Defining voluntary and involuntary manslaughter

There are two different categories of manslaughter – voluntary or involuntary.

Voluntary manslaughter

To be counted as voluntary manslaughter the following criteria need to be met:

  • There was an unlawful killing by the defendant
  • The defendant showed intent to kill or commit GBH
  • The defence can prove that at the time of the offence, the defendant was not of sound mind

This sound mind part is very important and must be established in one of the two following ways- loss of control and diminished responsibility.

Loss of control

To qualify for a loss of control defence for voluntary manslaughter the defence must prove that the defendant unlawfully killed someone by losing control of their actions due to them fearing serious violence against themselves.

For this defence, it is necessary to demonstrate that a typical person of the same sex and age may have reacted in a similar way in these circumstances.

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Diminished responsibility

To be successful in pleading a diminished responsibility defence in a voluntary manslaughter case, the defendant must be shown to have been impaired in understanding the nature of their actions, making a rational judgement, or exercising self-control. The only acceptable reason for impairment is due to a recognised medical condition that impacts mental functioning.

Involuntary manslaughter

In contrast to a charge of voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter must meet the following criteria:

  • There was an unlawful killing by the defendant
  • There is no proof that the defendant showed intent to kill or commit GBH
  • At the time of the offence, the defendant was of sound mind

There are two categories of involuntary manslaughter: Gross negligence manslaughter and Unlawful act manslaughter. Gross negligence manslaughter is when death is caused defendant’s gross negligence. Unlawful act manslaughter is where the death caused by the defendant com

What length of manslaughter sentence UK can those convicted expect?

Manslaughter, no matter what type is a very serious conviction, and as such has a maxim penalty of life imprisonment. 

Sentencing does depend on the category of manslaughter the defendant is charged with, as well as the specific circumstances of the case. However, as general rule sentencing is as follows: 

  • Diminished responsibility (voluntary manslaughter) penalty starts at 24 years of custody.
  • Loss of control (voluntary manslaughter) penalty starts at 14 years’ custody.
  • Unlawful act manslaughter, (involuntary manslaughter): starts at 18 years’ custody.

Gross negligence manslaughter, (involuntary manslaughter): starts at – 12 years’ custody.

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