(Original post by JH-QC)
Yeah I know, on the old spec it was always a choice between murder, involuntary manslaughter and non fatal defences; but this time last year was the first paper they got rid of involuntary and only gave you one choice... really annoying that there hasnt been a past paper for defences... I don't want to learn all 3!
does your teacher make you learn the spec for voluntary and involuntary? ours only teaches us involuntary cos we only have 6 teaching hours a fortnight instead of the required 9
We do everything yeah, but don't worry because you'll get a choice of scenario
Would you like me to send you some notes on voluntary manslaughter just in case?There's a chance it could come up in both scenarios if they mix murder with involuntary manslaughter because we did a mock exam and murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter came up all rolled into one question!
Here's some revision notes for voluntary manslaughter:
Voluntary Manslaughter Revision Notes
AQA Law03 Jan 2011
In common law, any homicide offence which is not murder is manslaughter, and in voluntary manslaughter the defendant may have malice aforethought but has a special defence to reduce their liability to manslaughter.
There are two partial defences which come from the Homicide Act 1957
* s.3 Provocation
* s.2 Diminished Responsibility
Successfully pleading either defence will reduce liability to manslaughter and the sentence will change from mandatory life to a discretionary life sentence.
The Homicide Act 1957
says there is a two-stage test for provocation.
* Was the defendant provoked to lose their self control? (The ‘subjective test’)
* Would a reasonable person have lost his self control in the circumstances?
(The ‘objective test’)
So there are three main elements to this defence:
1. Provocative conduct
2. Loss of self control
3. The reasonable person may have been provoked
The burden of proof rests with the defendant and the defence is left to the jury to decide as in R v Acott
1. Provocative Conduct:
Provocation may be by things done, things said or both together.
The persistent crying of a baby
* R v Baille
Supplying drugs to the defendant’s sons
* R v Pearson
Defendant’s brother was being abused by their father
* R v Thornton
The defendant was being abused by her husband
The provocative acts need not be aimed at the defendant as in Pearson
and the provocation need not come from the victim either as in Davies
where the defendant’s wife was killed because of her affair with another man.
When the defendant self-induces the provocative conduct the decision may not be left to the jury but if the victim’s reaction is extreme to the defendant’s act the defence can succeed as in Edwards
where in response to blackmail, the victim pulled a knife on the defendant, the defendant took hold of the knife and stabbed the victim to death.
2. Loss of self control:
This is the subjective test – did the defendant lose self control? In Duffy
it was held the loss of self control must be ‘sudden and temporary’.
* Ibrams and Gregory
A ‘cooling off’ period is not consistent with ‘sudden and temporary’.
Cumulative (‘slow burn’) provocation is now considered.
The delay in time from the provocative act and killing her husband meant the defence could not succeed
* R v Thornton
‘Last straw’ from several abusive incidents could have triggered the final loss of self control
The provoked defendant may know what they are doing but are unable to restrain themselves as in Richens
3. Would the reasonable person have been provoked?
This was developed in the case of Camplin
where instead of the reasonable person being an adult, normal both physically and mentally, the age and gender of the defendant are taken into account. The rule can be summarised with two questions:
* Would the reasonable person have lost their self control in the circumstances?
* Would the reasonable person, sharing the characteristics with the defendant, be similarly provoked and react as the defendant did?
Luc Thiet Thuan
A head injury resulting in reduced powers of self control could not be taken into account for the objective test
Clinical depression may reduce powers of self control; Luc Thiet Thuan
The case of Smith (Morgan)
was disapproved and Luc Thiet Thuan
was followed. The jury should not take into account any peculiarities such as mental abnormality or intoxication. They would be better left for the defence of diminished responsibility.
This defence can only be pleaded on a murder charge and the sentence can be life, suspended, non-custodial or an absolute discharge. Defendants can also be detained under the Mental Health Act
A person who pleads diminished responsibility should prove on a balance of probabilities that:
* They were suffering from an abnormality of mind
* Caused by arrested or retarded development or an inherent cause, disease or injury
* The abnormality substantially impaired their mental responsibility
for the killing
Abnormality of mind:
This is a state of mind the reasonable person (the jury) would find abnormal, e.g. Epilepsy, PMT (as in English
), clinical depression, psychotic disorders and battered woman’s syndrome (as in Ahluwalia
Sexual psychopath’s inability to control desires meant he could claim diminished responsibility
A young mother suffering from post-natal depression killed her mother and could claim the defence
A defendant who had severe depression at the time of the killing can claim the defence
Battered woman’s syndrome amounts to abnormality of the mind
Arising from a condition...
* Of arrested or retarded development
, e.g. An adult with a mental age of a child or an abnormality like in Byrne
* Inherent cause
, from within the defendant e.g. Sutcliffe
with paranoid schizophrenia not external factors like alcohol or drugs as in Tandy
* Induced by disease
, e.g. Post-traumatic stress disorder
* Induced by injury
e.g. A head injury like in Luc Thiet Thuan
Substantially impairs responsibility:
Impairment of responsibility from drink or drugs is not diminished responsibility, as in Tandy
the defendant did not resist the urge to drink so it was not involuntary, meaning her alcohol problem could not be considered a disease.
If however drink or drugs are present when the defendant has an abnormality of mind which substantially impairs their mental responsibility, the intoxication would be irrelevant as in Dietschmann
, approving of the earlier decision in Gittens
where the jury should consider whether the abnormality alone was enough to impair responsibility for the act.
‘Substantial’ means more than trivial but less than total impairment as in R v Lloyd