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Manslaughter is a
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
legal term for
homicide Homicide is an act of a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

homicide
considered by law as less culpable than
murder Murder is the of another without or valid , especially the unlawful killing of another human with . ("The killing of another person without justification or excuse, especially the crime of killing a person with malice aforethought or with ...

murder
. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker
Draco DRACO (double-stranded RNA Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning t ...
in the 7th century BC. The definition of manslaughter differs among legal
jurisdictions Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' 'declaration') is the legal term for the authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. Colloquially it is used to refer to the geographical area (: locatio ...
.


Types


Voluntary

In voluntary manslaughter, the offender had intent to kill or seriously harm, but acted "in the moment" under circumstances that could cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed. Examples could include a defender killing a home invader without being placed in a life or death situation. There are mitigating circumstances that reduce culpability, such as when the defendant kills only with an intent to cause serious bodily harm. Voluntary manslaughter in some jurisdictions is a
lesser included offense In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abst ...
of murder. The traditional mitigating factor was
provocation Provocation, provoke or provoked may refer to: * Provocation (legal), a type of legal defense in court which claims the "victim" provoked the accused's actions * Agent provocateur, a (generally political) group that tries to goad a desired resp ...
; however, others have been added in various jurisdictions. The most common type of voluntary manslaughter occurs when a defendant is provoked to commit homicide. This is sometimes described as a
crime of passion A crime of passion (French: ''crime passionnel''), in popular usage, refers to a violent crime, especially homicide, in which the perpetrator commits the act against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage rather than as a ...
. In most cases, the provocation must induce rage or anger in the defendant, although some cases have held that fright, terror, or desperation will suffice.


Assisted suicide

Assisted suicide is suicide committed with the aid of another person, sometimes a physician. In some places, including parts of the United States, assisted suicide is punishable as manslaughter. In other countries such as Switzerland and Canada, and in some U.S. states, as long as legal safeguards are observed, assisted suicide is legal.


Involuntary

Involuntary manslaughter is the killing of a human being without intent of doing so, either expressed or implied. It is distinguished from voluntary manslaughter by the absence of intention. It is normally divided into two categories, constructive manslaughter and criminally negligent manslaughter, both of which involve criminal liability.


Constructive

Constructive manslaughter is also referred to as "unlawful act" manslaughter. It is based on the doctrine of constructive malice, whereby the malicious intent inherent in the commission of a crime is considered to apply to the consequences of that crime. It occurs when someone kills, without intent, in the course of committing an unlawful act. The malice involved in the crime is transferred to the killing, resulting in a charge of manslaughter. For example, a person who fails to stop at a red traffic light while driving a vehicle and hits someone crossing the street could be found to intend or be reckless as to assault or criminal damage (see ''DPP v Newbury''). There is no intent to kill, and a resulting death would not be considered murder, but would be considered involuntary manslaughter. The accused's responsibility for causing death is constructed from the fault in committing what might have been a minor criminal act. Reckless driving or reckless handling of a potentially lethal weapon may result in a death that is deemed manslaughter. The DPP V NEWBURY case had redefined the meaning of murder in the Australian constitution, and reformed in order to include a mens rea assessment. Involuntary manslaughter may be distinguished from accidental death. A person who is driving carefully, but whose car nevertheless hits a child darting out into the street, has not committed manslaughter. A person who pushes off an aggressive drunk, who then falls and dies, has probably not committed manslaughter, although in some jurisdictions it may depend whether "excessive force" was used or other factors. As manslaughter is not defined by legislation in Australia, common law decisions provide the basis for determining whether an act resulting in death amounts to manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act.. To be found guilty of manslaughter by an unlawful and dangerous act, the accused must be shown to have committed an unlawful act which is contrary to the criminal law, and that a reasonable person in the position of the accused would have known that by their act, they were exposing the victim to an "appreciable risk of serious injury".


Criminally negligent

Criminally negligent manslaughter is variously referred to as
criminally negligent In criminal law, criminal negligence is a surrogate ''mens rea'' (Latin for "guilty mind") required to constitute a ''conventional'' as opposed to strict liability offense. It is not, strictly speaking, a ''mens rea'' because it refers to an obj ...
homicide in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, and
gross negligence Gross negligence is the "lack of slight diligence or care" or "a conscious, voluntary act or omission in reckless disregard of a legal duty and of the consequences to another party." In some jurisdictions a person injured as a result of gross negli ...
manslaughter in
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
. In
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
and some
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

Commonwealth of Nations
jurisdictions the offence of
culpable homicide Culpable homicide is a categorisation of certain offences in various jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin w ...
might apply. It occurs where death results from serious
negligence Negligence (Lat. ''negligentia'') is a failure to exercise appropriate and/or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than br ...
, or, in some jurisdictions, serious recklessness. A high degree of negligence is required to warrant criminal liability. A related concept is that of
willful blindness Willful blindness or Wilful blindness (sometimes called ignorance of law, willful ignorance or contrived ignorance or intentional ignorance or Nelsonian knowledge) is a term used in law to describe a situation in which a person seeks to avoid civ ...
, which is where a defendant intentionally puts themselves in a position where they will be unaware of facts which would render them liable. Criminally negligent manslaughter occurs where there is an omission to act when there is a duty to do so, or a failure to perform a duty owed, which leads to a death. The existence of the duty is essential because the law does not impose criminal liability for a failure to act unless a specific duty is owed to the victim. It is most common in the case of professionals who are grossly negligent in the course of their employment. An example is where a doctor fails to notice a patient's oxygen supply has disconnected and the patient dies (''R v Adomako'' and "R v Perreau"). Another example could be leaving a child locked in a car on a hot day.


Vehicular and intoxicated

In some jurisdictions, such as some U.S. States, there exists the specific crime of vehicular or intoxication manslaughter. An equivalent in Canada is under the
Criminal Code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, ha ...
, punishable by a maximum penalty of
life imprisonment Life imprisonment is any sentence Sentence(s) or The Sentence may refer to: Common uses * Sentence (law), the punishment a judge gives to a defendant found guilty of a crime * Sentence (linguistics), a grammatical unit of language * Sentence ...
. On the ''
mens rea ''Mens rea'' (; Law LatinLaw Latin, sometimes written L.L. or L. Lat., and sometimes derisively called Dog Latin Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus, refers to the creation of a phrase In everyd ...
'', or state of mind, or the circumstances under which the killing occurred (
mitigating factor In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and inf ...
s). Manslaughter is usually broken down into two distinct categories: ''
voluntary manslaughter Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of a human being in which the offender acted during ''the heat of passion'', under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed to the point that they cannot ...
'' and ''
involuntary manslaughter Manslaughter is a common law legal term for homicide considered by law as less Culpability, culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco ( ...
''. However, this is not the case in all jurisdictions, for example, in the U.S. state of Florida. In some jurisdictions, such as the U.K., Canada, and some Australian states, "adequate provocation" may be a partial defense to a charge of murder, which, if accepted by the jury, would convert what might otherwise have been a murder charge into manslaughter.


National standards


Australian

In Australia, specifically New South Wales, manslaughter is referred to, however not defined, in the ''Crimes Act 1900'' (NSW). Murder and manslaughter defined. Manslaughter exists in two forms in New South Wales: Voluntary or Involuntary Manslaughter. In New South Wales, in cases of voluntary manslaughter, both the ''
actus reus ''Actus reus'' (), sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoke ...
'' (literally guilty act) and ''
mens rea ''Mens rea'' (; Law LatinLaw Latin, sometimes written L.L. or L. Lat., and sometimes derisively called Dog Latin Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus, refers to the creation of a phrase In everyd ...
'' (literally guilty mind) for murder are proven but the defendant has a partial defence, such as extreme provocation or diminished responsibility. and . In cases of involuntary manslaughter, the ''actus reus'' for murder is present but there is insufficient ''mens rea'' to establish such a charge. There are two categories of involuntary manslaughter at common law: manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act and manslaughter by criminal negligence. The authority for the ''actus reus'' and ''mens rea'' of involuntary manslaughter by an unlawful and dangerous act is the High Court of Australia case of ''Wilson v R''. This case determined that the act that caused the death must breach the criminal law and that the act must carry an appreciable risk of serious injury (''actus reus''). Regarding the ''mens rea'', the court held that the accused must intend to commit the unlawful act and that a reasonable person in the position of the accused would have realised or recognised that the act carried an appreciable risk of serious injury. Manslaughter by criminal negligence, on the other hand, finds its authority in the Victorian case of ''Nydam v R'',. confirmed by the High Court of Australia in ''
R v Lavender R, or r, is the eighteenth Letter (alphabet), letter of the English alphabet, modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is English alphabet#Letter names, ''ar'' (pronounced ), plural ''ars'', or in Ireland ...
''. and ''Burns v R''.. In ''Nydam v R'', the Court described the office at in the following terms:
In order to establish manslaughter by criminal negligence, it is sufficient if the prosecution shows that the act which caused the death was done by the accused consciously and voluntarily, without any intention of causing death or grievous bodily harm but in circumstances which involved such a great falling short of the standard of care which a reasonable man would have exercised and which involved such a high risk that death or grievous bodily harm would follow that the doing of the act merited criminal punishment.


Canadian

Canadian law distinguishes between justifiable, accidental and culpable homicide. If a death is deemed a culpable homicide, it generally falls under one of four categories (first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, and infanticide). Canadian law defines manslaughter as "a homicide committed without the intention to cause death, although there may have been an intention to cause harm". There are two broad categories of manslaughter: unlawful act, and criminal negligence. Unlawful act is when a person commits a crime that unintentionally results in the death of another person. Criminal negligence is when the homicide was the result of an act that showed wanton or reckless disregard for the lives of others.


English

In
English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Blac ...
, manslaughter is a less serious offence than
murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification (jurisprudence), justification or valid excuse (legal), excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought. ("The killing of another person w ...
. In
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
, the usual practice is to prefer a charge of murder, with the
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
or defence able to introduce manslaughter as an option (see
lesser included offence In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influen ...
). The
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivity (philosophy), objective ...

jury
then decides whether the
defendant In court proceedings, a defendant is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary fi ...
is guilty or not guilty of either murder or manslaughter. Manslaughter may be either voluntary or involuntary, depending on whether the accused has the required for murder. The
Homicide Act 1957 The Homicide Act 1957 (5 & 6 Eliz.2 c.11) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Ki ...
and
Coroners and Justice Act 2009 The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (c. 25) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Ki ...
are relevant acts. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when the defendant avails themself of the three statutory defenses described in the Homicide Act 1957 (provocation, diminished responsibility, and a suicide pact). Involuntary manslaughter occurs when the agent has no intention () of committing murder, but caused the death of another through recklessness or
criminal negligence In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, ab ...
. The crime of involuntary manslaughter can be subdivided into two main categories: constructive manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter.


United States

Manslaughter is a crime in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. Definitions can vary among jurisdictions, but the U.S. follows the general principle that manslaughter involves causing the death of another person in a manner less culpable than
murder Murder is the of another without or valid , especially the unlawful killing of another human with . ("The killing of another person without justification or excuse, especially the crime of killing a person with malice aforethought or with ...

murder
, and observes the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.


Civil law

Some
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
jurisdictions, such as the French Code, use "murder" or "involuntary homicide" to cover the crime of manslaughter, and reserve "assassination" for the crime of
premeditated murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification (jurisprudence), justification or valid excuse (legal), excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought. ("The killing of another person w ...
.


Historical distinction from murder

A legal distinction between intentional and unintentional homicide was introduced in Athenian law in 409 BC, when the legal code of
Draco DRACO (double-stranded RNA Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning t ...
indicated that intentional homicide (''hekousios phonos'' or ''phonos ek pronoias'') was punishable by death. The language is ambiguous as to unintentional homicide (''akousios phonos''), but it may have been punishable by exile. However, academic David D Phillips says that these categories "do not correspond to the common-law categories of murder and manslaughter either in their original significance or in their present definitions", because under Athenian law intentional homicide would include both murder and voluntary manslaughter. Anglo-Saxon law recognised particular degrees of homicide, with the worst being ''forsteall'' (killing by ambush). ''Murdra'' was a separate type of aggravated (secret) homicide under Anglo-Saxon law;
William the Conqueror William I (c. 1028Bates ''William the Conqueror'' p. 33 – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first House of Normandy, Norman List of English monarchs, monarch of Engl ...

William the Conqueror
defined it narrowly as a fine that would be charged on a
hundred 100 or one hundred (Roman numerals, Roman numeral: C) is the natural number following 99 (number), 99 and preceding 101 (number), 101. In medieval contexts, it may be described as the short hundred or five 20 (number), score in order to different ...
following the slaying of a foreigner (originally a Norman, but intermarriage would end the distinction between Normans and English by the 13th century). By 1348, the association between ''murdrum'' and
malice aforethought Malice aforethought is the "premeditation" or "predetermination" (with malice) required as an element of some crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and me ...
emerged. "Manslaughter" as a general term for homicide was in use in medieval England by the late 1200s, during which time a distinction was forming between homicide committed in necessary self-defence (pardoned without culpability) and homicide committed by accident (pardoned but with moral blame). From 1390, homicide in necessary self-defence or by misadventure became "pardons of course", meaning that the Chancery would issue them by default. Homicide in necessary self-defence would later be acquitted, rather than pardoned. The use of "manslaughter" to cover homicides other than murder emerged by 1547, in a statute.
Edward Coke Sir Edward Coke ( "cook", formerly ; 1 February 1552 – 3 September 1634) was an English , judge, and politician who is considered the greatest jurist of the and eras. Born into an upper-class family, Coke was educated at , before leavin ...

Edward Coke
confirms this distinction in ''The Third Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England,'' which remains "the authoritative starting point for any examination of the law of homicide" in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
and other
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
countries''.''


See also

*
Culpable homicide Culpable homicide is a categorisation of certain offences in various jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin w ...
*
Criminal transmission of HIV Criminal transmission of HIV is the intentional or reckless infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology) ...
*
Depraved-heart murder In United States law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, which prescribes the foundation of the federal government of the Unite ...
*
Imperfect self-defense Imperfect self-defense is a common law doctrine recognized by some jurisdictions whereby a defendant may mitigate punishment or Sentence (law), sentencing imposed for a crime involving the use of deadly force by claiming, as a partial affirmative ...
*
Twinkie defense "Twinkie defense" is a derisive label for an improbable legal defense. It is not a recognized legal defense in jurisprudence, but a catch-all term coined by reporters during their coverage of the trial of defendant Dan White for Moscone–Milk ...


References


External links

{{Wikiversity Homicide
Criminal law {{CatAutoTOC Public law Common law, Criminal law Law by issue, Criminal law Criminal justice, Law Law by type ...