Involuntary manslaughter
Involuntary manslaughter

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter—introduction
  • Unlawful act manslaughter
  • The unlawful act
  • Risk of someone being harmed
  • The mental element of the unlawful act
  • Sentencing unlawful act manslaughter
  • Manslaughter by gross negligence—the offence
  • Existence of a duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • More...

Involuntary manslaughter—introduction

Manslaughter can be classified as either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter consists of those killings which would be murder (because the accused has the relevant mental element—hence the label voluntary manslaughter) but which are reduced to manslaughter because of one of the three special defences. Involuntary manslaughter refers to those types of manslaughter which can be charged in their own right and where the accused lacks the mental element for murder ie the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), although equally they can result from an indictment for murder where the prosecution fail to prove the mental element. See: R v Taylor (1834) 2 Lew CC 215 (not reported by LexisNexis®).

There are two classes of involuntary manslaughter where a defendant:

  1. kills another by an unlawful act which was likely to cause bodily harm (known as either unlawful act manslaughter or constructive manslaughter), or

  2. kills another by gross negligence (manslaughter by gross negligence)

Unlawful act manslaughter

In order to prove manslaughter by an unlawful act you must prove:

  1. an unlawful act (not omission) by the defendant resulted in someone's death

  2. that the unlawful act involved a risk of someone being harmed, and

  3. that the defendant has the required mental element for the relevant unlawful act (eg for an assault or criminal damage) which led to the death of a victim

The unlawful act

The act must be unlawful which means

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