Voluntary manslaughter

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

  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility
  • Sentence for conviction of manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility
  • Manslaughter by reason of loss of control
  • The relevance of mental disorder to ‘the circumstances of the defendant’
  • Qualifying triggers—loss of control
  • Sentence for conviction of manslaughter on grounds of loss of control
  • Manslaughter by reason of suicide pact
  • Sentencing for manslaughter on the grounds of a suicide pact

Voluntary manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter consists of those killings which would be murder (because the accused has the relevant mental element for murder) but which are reduced to manslaughter because of one of the three special defences (loss of control, diminished responsibility or suicide pact). Voluntary manslaughter is not an offence a defendant can be indicted for, but is a verdict which can result from an initial indictment for murder. The actual verdict will simply be 'manslaughter' without the label of 'voluntary'.

Note: the special defences were amended prospectively by the sections 52–57 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (CJA 2009).

Manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility

The special defence of diminished responsibility was amended by CJA 2009, s 52 which changed the definition of the partial defence of diminished responsibility and applies to defendants charged with murder where the acts or omissions resulting in the death of the victim took place on or after 4 October 2010. For offences committed before this date the old law will still apply. Section 2 of the Homicide Act 1957 (HA 1957) provides that a person who kills or is a party to the killing of another is not to be convicted of murder if that person was suffering from an abnormality of mental function which:

  1. arose from a recognised mental condition

  2. substantially impaired the defendant's ability to do

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