Last week we looked at the offence of murder. At the offence wording and what you have to prove to charge someone with the offence. But what if you can’t prove those points, but you still have a dead body and you still have someone in your custody who you believe is responsible for that death?
Maybe you could look at Manslaughter?
Again Manslaughter is common law (not in statute) and is committed when a person unlawfully kills another human being under the Queen’s peace. What it does not require is the intention to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm.
And what you may not realise is that it also carries life imprisonment.
There are two classifications of manslaughter. Involuntary and voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter tends to be found by a court rather than charged, but involuntary manslaughter is the one you would charge.
This can again be separated into two occasions.
- one where the defendant kills another by an unlawful act that was likely to cause bodily harm.
- kills another by gross negligence.
Involuntary manslaughter means the defendant did not have the required mens rea – described in the previous post about murder.
Voluntary manslaughter comes about with two ‘special defences’ that may reduce a murder charge.
- Diminished responsibility.
- A suicide pact.
Obviously both of the above have to be proved. You can’t simply claim them. And, as you can see, these are more likely to be found in court as they are defences, ones you would use to a murder.
As you can also see by this post, manslaughter is a lot more complicated than murder and I have condensed it down to as simple a form as it can possibly go because if you are writing crime, you really don’t need all the small details. You need the broad overview to make your writing realistic. If you’re writing a legal thriller then you need someone other than a police officer to help you out. But, by reading these posts, you will have an idea on what you are dealing with for arrests and interviews and well as charging decisions and what may go down at the end of a court case.
You can find all other posts in this series HERE.
Rebecca Bradley is a retired UK police detective with over 15 years UK policing experience. Seven of those years were in uniform and the rest in a specialist investigative department where She handled multiple, serious and complex investigations. She is now a crime writer and offers a police procedural fact-checking service, available to all crime writers setting their work in England or Wales.
Please see THIS POST for further details.
Join my Writing Crime group. If you sign up to the group you will receive a police MG11 statement (a genuine statement paper – I found online) which I have written a statement on, using an incident that occurs at the end of my novella, Three Weeks Dead. So, it’s a genuine statement, authentically written by an ex-detective.
What else will you receive in this group?
Every month I will send you, either;
- Another document I have completed.
- A link to an online document I know will help you.
- Another police document that forms part of a police investigation.
All of these can be printed out and kept in a folder and your folder will grow with policing information that you, as writers, can use, or ignore, as you wish. It is fiction, but having the information means you can make an informed decision.
If you want to be a part of this group and to claim your first item (the completed statement) then go HERE.