Evaluation of Murder Evaluation of Murder Main areas of the law of murder considered to be in need of change or clarification are: Intent: Express/implied Direct/indirect Mandatory life sentence For the Fatal Offences Evaluation
Essay 3 criticisms and corresponding reforms for murder 3 criticisms and corresponding reforms for voluntary manslaughter Criticism of Implied Malice A person who intends to cause serious bodily harm and actually causes his victims death is guilty of murder Should a D whose only intention is to cause serious bodily harm be as guilty of murder as one who deliberately sets out to kill? What about a D whose main intention isnt even to cause serious bodily harm? (i.e. oblique implied intent)
In Hancock and Shankland, Ds argued their intention had been to block the road when they threw the concrete slab from the bridge Criticism of Implied Malice Vickers confirmed that intention to cause GHB amounts to intention for murder Grievous is interpreted as serious harm that does not have to be life threatening Cheshire victim died of medical complications following the initial wound which was not in itself life threatening. Murder conviction leads to mandatory life sentence and arguably this should be reserved solely for those who intend to kill
Implied malice rule has been criticised by many judges and legal writers as it is argued it extends the definition of murder too far it is hard to justify because the fault element (intention to cause GBH) does not correspond to the consequences (death of victim) Suggested Reform on Implied Intent Often been suggested that law on murder be codified so that it is included in new legislation Draft Criminal Code produced in 1989 proposed this definition of the intention for murder: Intending to cause death
Intending to cause serious personal harm and being aware that he may cause death But no attempt has been made to codify the law in this way Suggested Reform on Implied Intent Reclassification of Homicide Law Commission Report 2006 Proposals First degree murder (mandatory life sentence): Intentional killing; or Killing with intent to cause serious injury, in the awareness there is a serious risk of causing death
Second degree murder (discretionary life sentence): Killing with intent to do serious injury How would these reforms solve the problem of implied intent? Criticism of Oblique Intent Has been a confusing situation in defining foresight of consequences In Nedrick held that foresight of consequences amounts to intention In Matthews and Alleyne held that foresight of consequences is a
rule of evidence so jury is entitled to find intention but is not obliged to do so Suggested Reform Law Commission is its report Offences Against the Person and General Principles (1993) proposed the word intentionally should be defined as: It is his purpose to cause the result; or Although it is not his intention to cause the result, he knows that it would occur in the ordinary course of events if he were to succeed in his purpose of causing some other result
How could this solve the problem of oblique intent? Mandatory Life Sentence Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Act 1965 Reasoning murder is generally held to be the most dreadful of crimes and deserves the maximum sentence permitted by law Also an element of appeasing those who opposed the abolition of the death penalty Applies to any person over the age of 18
When passing the sentence judge must decide on the tariff length of time D must serve in prison as a minimum before being considered for release Length of tariff depends on particular factors of the crime e.g. whether it was racially motivated or had a sexual element Once D has served minimum time under the tariff he may be released but under licence which means he can be made to return to prison if he doesnt comply with the terms of his release so sentence remains even when D is no longer in prison In some cases, judge can order a whole of life sentence D will never be released Criticisms of Mandatory Life Sentence
No flexibility for judge to vary sentence according to seriousness of the killing: Murders cover varying degrees of seriousness e.g. cold-blooded serial killers such as Sutcliffe or the Wests, or those who kill from motives of compassion (mercy killers), or those like Anthony Martin who overstep the limits of reasonable force in self-defence In order to avoid the Mandatory Life Sentence, inappropriate verdicts of manslaughter may be returned e.g. in cases of mercy killings where defence of diminished responsibility has been accepted with the flimsiest of evidence If life imprisonment does not usually mean for life then why call it life
imprisonment and insist on it being passed? Suggested Reform Abolish mandatory life sentence and make it discretionary other crimes like manslaughter, rape, wounding with intent, attempted murder all have a maximum of life imprisonment but it is discretionary Judge would have the flexibility to impose life (meaning for life) for the most serious murders, and for other killings could impose a term of years reflecting their seriousness Reclassification of Homicide Law Commission Report 2006 First degree murder (mandatory life sentence):
Intentional killing; or Killing with intent to cause serious injury, in the awareness there is a serious risk of causing death Second degree murder (discretionary life sentence): Killing with intent to do serious injury Killing with intent to cause some injury or fear or risk of injury, in the awareness that there is a serious risk of causing death How would this solve the problem?
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