PHONE: (07) 3153 6215 [email protected]

MURDER AND MANSLAUGHTER IN QLD

Crime scene of outline of dead body

Written by Criminal Lawyers Brisbane Group

25 March 2022

Murder and manslaughter are the most serious offences in the Queensland Criminal Code. If you are convicted of either of these offences, the Court can sentence you to Life Imprisonment.

For murder, the accused must have intended to cause the death of the deceased. The prosecution must prove the accused meant to kill the deceased by their actions. Manslaughter, on the other hand does not require the prosecution to prove the accused intended to kill the deceased.

 

MURDER

The definition of murder is found in Section 302 of the Queensland Criminal Code, which defines murder as:

(1) Except as hereinafter set forth, a person who unlawfully kills another under any of the following circumstances, that is to say— 

(a) if the offender intends to cause the death of the person killed or that of some other person or if the offender intends to do to the person killed or to some other person some grievous bodily harm; 

(aa) if death is caused by an act done, or omission made, with reckless indifference to human life; 

(b) if death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose, which act is of such a nature as to be likely to endanger human life; 

(c) if the offender intends to do grievous bodily harm to some person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime which is such that the offender

may be arrested without warrant, or for the purpose of facilitating the flight of an offender who has committed or attempted to commit any such crime; 

(d) if death is caused by administering any stupefying or overpowering thing for either of the purposes mentioned in paragraph (c); 

(e) if death is caused by wilfully stopping the breath of any person for either of such purposes; 

is guilty of murder.

 

 

MANSLAUGHTER

 

The definition of manslaughter is found in Section 303 of the Queensland Criminal Code, which defines murder as:

(1) A person who unlawfully kills another under such circumstances as not to constitute murder is guilty of manslaughter.

Manslaughter is a natural alternative charge for murder. When an accused is on trial for murder and the jury do not find the accused guilty of murder, the jury may decide if the accused is guilty of manslaughter instead.

 

ATTEMPTED MURDER

 

The crime of attempt to murder is found in Section 306 of the Queensland Criminal Code, which says:

 (1) Any person who—

(a) attempts unlawfully to kill another; or

(b) with intent unlawfully to kill another does any act, or omits to do any act which it is the person’s duty to do, such act or omission being of such a nature as to be likely to endanger human life;

is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for life.

AIDING SUICIDE

Section 311 of the Queensland Criminal Code sets out the crime of aiding suicide, which says:

Any person who—

(a) procures another to kill himself or herself; or

(b) counsels another to kill himself or herself and thereby

induces the other person to do so; or

(c) aids another in killing himself or herself;

is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for life.

 

Unlawful Killing

For both murder and manslaughter, there needs to be an “unlawful killing”. Section 293 of the Criminal Code defines “killing” as “any person who causes the death of another, directly or indirectly, by any means whatever, is deemed to have killed that other person.” 

Section 291 of the Criminal Code says the killing will be unlawful, unless it is authorised or justified or excused by law. 

 

Cause the death of the person killed

The High Court of Australia in the case of Royall v The Queen (1991) 172 CLR 378 has held the acts or omissions of the accused do not need to be the sole cause of death, but they must be a substantial or significant cause of the death or have substantially contributed to the death.

 

What are the punishments for murder and manslaughter?

 

If you are found guilty of murder, the penalty is Life Imprisonment which cannot be mitigated or varied under the Criminal Code or any other law. A life sentence means 20 years imprisonment. However, there are situations where the Court must order a person not to be released from prison until they have served a minimum time.

 

If a person is sentenced in any of the following situations, the Court must Order the person not be released from prison until they have served 30 or more specified years:

(a) more than 1 murder offence; or

(b)1 murder and another offence where murder is taken into account; or

(c) murder and the person has previously been sentenced for murder.

 

If the person killed was a police officer, then the Court must Order the person not be released from prison until they have served 25 or more specified years.

If you are convicted of murder, it is possible the Court may Order an indefinite sentence under part 10 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992. If an indefinite sentence is Ordered, this means the prison sentence is for an indefinite period. The court reviews the indefinite sentence periodically to see if the order is still needed.

 

DEFENCES

If a person is charged with murder, they may have the following defences open to them depending on the circumstances:

  • Section 23 of the Criminal Code- Intention—motive.
  • Section 27 of the Criminal Code- Insanity.
  • Section 266 of the Criminal Code – Prevention of Crimes.
  • Section 267 of the Criminal Code – Defence of dwelling.
  • Section 271 of the Criminal Code- Self-defence against unprovoked assault.
  • Section 272 of the Criminal Code- Self-defence against provoked assault.
  • Section 273 of the Criminal Code- Aiding in self-defence.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

If you or someone you know has been charged with murder, manslaughter or attempted murder, get legal advice now. These are the most serious criminal offences in the Criminal Code and the consequences are huge. You need the experience of the Criminal Lawyers Brisbane Group in your corner fighting for you. Pick up the phone and dial (07) 3153 6215 or fill out the form below for a free no-obligation chat. Contacting us may be the best thing you do.

If you have been

charged with a

criminal offence,

contact us TODAY

for a FREE chat.

(07) 3153 6215

Image padlock with tick