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Knowledge of Criminal Law

University: International Higher Diploma in Law

  • Unit No: 19
  • Level: Undergraduate/College
  • Pages: 11 / Words 2771
  • Paper Type: Assignment
  • Course Code: BA8849K
  • Downloads: 1014
Question :

The purpose of this report is to enhance understanding and knowledge of individuals in the context of criminal law for their self-defense and protection. This report is going to cover legislation of UK by analyzing:

  • Explain Homicide and determine can every homicide act be considered a murder.
  • Provide a discussion over Self-defense, Necessity and Insanity.
  • Determine the difference between Provocation & Diminished Responsibility.
Answer :


Homicide is a term that is generally linked to an act where an individual indulges in killing some other individual. The report briefly discuses meaning of homicide and how variation is actually made in activities that whether they are murder or not. The report also defines, various defences of homicide, such as, defence, necessity and insanity. The report will then make comprehensive discussion regarding meaning of unlawful assembly under penal code and argument on criminal responsibility of a member of unlawful assembly. In the end, the report discusses statutory provisions and jurisprudence where an individual cannot be treated as guilty of murder.


Meaning of Homicide and if any homicide act is considered as murder

Homicide is considered to be an act of one human being killing the other. In order to consider an act as homicide, it is important for on individual to commit a particular course of action, which results in leading the other individual to death (Fitz-Gibbon, 2014). Hence, it can be stated that homicide is the result of reckless, negligent or accidental acts even if the individual may not be having any intention to harm the other. Homicide can further be divided in to murder and manslaughter. An act is considered to be in one of the two categories based on intention and state of mind of individual to perform that act. Hence, it can be stated that all the homicide acts are not considered as murder.

As per the legislation of UK, murder is one of the forms of homicide, Hence, every murder cannot be considered as homicide. For a homicide to be considered as murder, it is important that, the act has been conducted intentionally by the individual. Murder is the most serious crime that is charged under homicide, where jurisdiction have right to punish the individual for life or even give capital punishment as well. Murder can be divided into categories. These are, first degree murder, which include planning, unlawful and intentional killing of person. There is another second-degree murder which is not planned but it is unlawful and intentional. Another aspect related to homicide is manslaughter where an individual indulges in murder without having any intention to kill the victim. It is due to potential lose in control of the actions due to he / she being mentally and emotionally disturbed at particular point of time. The penalty generally charged on manslaughter is comparatively less to what is charged in case of murder (Harris, Leao and Rhodes, 2013).

As per the legal definition of murder, under Common law of UK, murder is considered to be an intentional killing, which is unlawful and committed with malice aforethought. It is the intentional bodily harm that can lead to the death of victim. However, in case of manslaughter, the act can be intentional or unintentional both. In this scenario, it can be stated that murder and manslaughter can both be the part of homicide. However, murder is always intentional. Hence, every homicide can not be considered as murder, due unintentional aspects attached to homicide as well.


Case law and legislation regarding self defense

All the homicidal activities can not be considered as crime or are subjected to have any type of criminal prosecution attached to it. Some of the acts are privileged to not be considered as criminal acts. Hence, defence can be given to the individual on various basis. On of this basis is self-defence. One has the right to defend oneself or others from any type of activity. In this scenario, the individual has validated right to opt for deadly force as well. One can use this force while defending himself / herself from any type of attack, preventing attack on any other person and also to defend his property as well. Further section 3(1) of Criminal Law Act 1967, an individual has right to use this force in prevention of certain crime as well (Gekoski, Gray and Adler, 2012).

As per the case of R v Scarlett[1994] Crim LR 288, the defendant tries to eject a drunk individual from his premises as the drunk individual decided the he will not be leaving voluntarily. During this scenario, the drunk man fell from 5 steps and died due to strong hit on his head. In this scenario, degree of force applied by the defendant have greater aspects to do with, if he will be treated as a murder or not. In the end, it was confirmed that the degree of force was not more than the permissible bar then he was not treated as a convict for the case that took place between the two, due to application of self defence aspect in it.

Case law and legislation regarding the necessity

There are certain circumstances that crop up where homicide become justifiable. However, it is not considered as lawful, killing in battlefield during war is justifiable and generally considered as lawful. Further, a police officer shooting a serious suspect, is also considered to be justifiable as it can be dangerous for officers as well as other’s life. The practice is also applicable on various pre-determined actions and events that can be in the form of hate groups, gangs or domestic terrorist organizations which target people based upon their, colour, creed, race, religious beliefs, age, sexual orientation and disability.

One case, R v Bourne [1939] 1 KB 687, where the defendant is a gynaecologist, performed abortion on a young girl, who got raped. Since, as per her finding, it could have been dangerous for the life of the patient. The act will be treated as necessity and will not be considered under the periphery rule of homicide as the defendant acted in a good faith. However, the same has now been already included in Abortion Act 1967 of UK (Hanmer and Itzin, 2013).

Case law and legislation regarding Insanity (M’Naughten Rules)

An individual is not happened to be criminally responsible if he / she is able to prove that he / she is suffering from any type of mental disorder. Therefore, an individual suffering from weakness of mind, partial or total insanity are the basic benchmarks based on which it can be decided that whether the individual will be sentenced to murder or not. it helps in diminishing the overall responsibility of the individual who have actually committed the crime.

The landmark case of R v. Sullivan, it depends upon the aetiology of organs that whether an individual will be held liable with respect to his doings or not. Further, it is also important to notice that whether impairment is transient or intermittent.


Meaning of unlawful assembly under penal code and discussion on criminal responsibility of a member of unlawful assembly

Unlawful assembly is a legal term which is generally used in context of describing a group of people with mutual intent of deliberately involving in disturbing peace. When the disturbance has just been initiated, then it is termed as rout. However, it has already been commenced then it is termed to be a ‘riot’ (Segal, 2012).

Every individual who has been present in the unlawful assemble is liable for any type of crime that can crop up in the country. Hence, the whole force will be responsible as they all work together so as to act in some common purpose. These purposes may solely endanger the public peace in a manner that create fear of immediate danger in people as well. Hence, it can be stated that any type of criminal activity taking place in the country due to unlawful assemble, then in that case, the whole force will be held liable for any criminal activity taken place, even if it has been conducted by the single individual only (Ashworth and Horder, 2013).

Explaining the given statement with cases

“All instances of Murder must necessarily be culpable homicide; but, all instances of Culpable Homicide are not Murder”. It can be stated that murder is a part of homicide and hence all the homicides can not be considered as murder. Culpable homicide and murder are the two different offences and hence are treated separately by the court as well. Culpable homicide is considered to be genu s and murder is a species of the same. Hence, it can be stated that All murders are culpable homicide but not vice versa. An individual is considered to have conduced culpable homicide if the act is done with intention of causing death or at least have the knowledge that the act or injury given to him will likely to cause death of the individual (Herring, 2014).

Hyam v DPP [1974]indicated that appellant set fire out of jealousy in the house of defendant, which led kill 2 girls living in it. Although he stated that it was not intentional to kill anybody in the house. The decision was actually made against him as there were high probable chances that fire will hurt the individual staying in the house. Hence, he has been charged as the guilty of murder and not homicide irrespective of the fact that his intention was not to kill people (Sealy and Worthington, 2013).

Statutory provisions and jurisprudence where an individual can not be treated as guilty of murder

There are various provisions that are linked to the situations or circumstances, dwelling in which is not considered as murder. Some of them are mentioned below:

If the individual has just got injured and activity has not led him to death, in this scenario, it is not treated as murder.

If an act is performed under the periphery of provision being issues by the government, then the act will not be considered as murder (Horder, 2012).

A killing is not a murder if an individual has been killed is not “under the Queen’s peace”.

If the crime which took place was different from the crime which was intended, leading an individual to be killed, will not be considered as a murder.

If an individual has been able to survive for more than the stated period, after the incident, then it will not be considered as a proximate cause of death.

Euthanasia is not considered under the periphery

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