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What a Charge of Murder or Manslaughter Means

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What are manslaughter and murder?

Manslaughter and murder are jointly defined in section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Under s1(a), murder is considered to have been committed where the accused had:

  • reckless indifference to human life
  • intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, 
  • in an attempt to commit a crime punishable by imprisonment for life or 25 years.

With s1(b) noting, every other punishable homicide shall be taken to be manslaughter. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 25 years.

What are the defences to a charge of murder or manslaughter?

On a case-by-case basis, our criminal lawyers at the Australia Legal Practice may be able to defend a charge of murder or manslaughter if:

For example:- 

  1. Self-defence – Your actions were in the protection of yourself or another (including property), resulting in self-defence.
  2. Duress – The threats of another party forced you to act in a certain way, equating to duress.

Additionally, a charge of murder can be downgraded to manslaughter through the partial defence of extreme provocation, as per s23 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Meaning if the partial defence is successful, you will be found guilty of manslaughter instead of murder.

For the partial defence to be successful:

  1. Your act that caused the death was in response to the conduct of the deceased towards you and
  2. The deceased’s conduct was a serious indictable offence; and
  3. The deceased’s conduct caused you to lose self-control; and
  4. The deceased’s conduct could have caused an ordinary person to lose self-control to the extent of intending to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm.
Options when charged with murder or manslaughter

Subject to your circumstances, you may choose either to:

  1. Plead guilty – Admit to committing the offence and breaking the law
  2. Plead not guilty – Deny committing the offence and breaking the law


If you decide to plead not guilty, our experienced criminal lawyers will vehemently protect your rights so that you get the best possible defence. 

The best way to get off a murder or manslaughter charge is to contact our experienced criminal lawyers. Our solicitors at the Australian Legal Practice have extensive experience and specialise in criminal offences. We provide tailored advice and are armed with the right knowledge to fight your case.

If your matter is urgent, call (02) 8084 9929 today to arrange a free initial consultation.


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