Last year we represented a boy of fifteen charged, alongside his father, with a grievous bodily harm offence. The allegation was that they had stabbed a man and if convicted, the boy would have been sent into youth detention. It was a pivotal moment in the life of a popular child who showed academic promise. His acquittal allowed him to continue with his studies and lead a normal life.
Violent offences vary in their gravity but they are all important to the clients who face them. At Old Bailey Solicitors we keep in mind what it would be like to have a close friend or relative prosecuted in these circumstances. Whatever the offence we understand the stress criminal proceedings can bring and we aim to prepare both the cases and our clients thoroughly before the case comes to court.
Of course, you will need advice on the charge, the strength of evidence and your plea but we like to provide a more comprehensive service. You can expect a case plan, setting out the issues in your case and the tasks we will undertake to ensure the case is expertly prepared. We will discuss your choice of advocate with you and involve you in decisions about experts, defence witnesses and trial tactics. Where appropriate we can undertake internet searches relating to key witnesses, instruct private detectives or challenge prosecution evidence.
Here are some examples of our recent work:
- R v Q
Murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
- R v M
Murder: Multi-defendant murder in a house used by vagrants.
- R v A
Attempted grievous bodily harm involving the use of a car as a weapon.
- R v J
Murder appeal – baby shaking case.
- R v R
GBH – Glassing: custody avoided.
- R v M
Conspiracy to commit violent disorder.
- R v W
Gross negligence manslaughter
- R v M
Murder involving dismembering of the deceased
Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
Section 47 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 creates the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
ABH is an either way offence which means it can be tried in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. Some forms of ABH are considered more serious than others depending on the harm caused. Factors which may make the offence more serious are:
- The use of a weapon likely to cause serious injury
- A weapon is used and serious injury is in fact caused
- More than minor injury caused by kicking or head-butting
- Serious violence caused to those whose work has to be done in contact with the public
- Violence is caused to vulnerable people
- The assault had a clear motive.
The maximum sentence for a single count of ABH in the Magistrates is 6 months. The maximum sentence in the Crown Court is 5 years imprisonment. ABH may also be charged in a racially aggravated form which attracts the higher maximum sentence of 7 years.
ACTUAL BODILY HARM (ABH) – THE OFFENCE
The offence must involved an assault or battery and it must have caused the victim actual bodily harm. It doesn’t matter if the harm caused is an indirect result of the assault, namely by scaring someone to the extent that they injure themselves e.g. by jumping from a moving car.
Actual Bodily Harm is defined as any injury which is calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim. Minor cuts and bruises or a brief loss of consciousness would be considered as ABH but most often requires slightly more serious injuries such as broken teeth or extensive cuts and bruising. A recognised psychiatric illness may amount to ABH as long as it is shown that the defendant’s actions caused the illness.
The assault may be committed either intentionally or recklessly. There is no requirement that the defendant foresaw the injury caused simply that they carried out the assaultÂ which resulted in the harm.
CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYERS
Old Baileys Solicitors have extensive experience of defending the full range of violent criminal offences ranging from simple common assaults all the way to Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent (GBH) and Murder.
If you or a loved one has been charged or arrested for any criminal offence please contact us for advice from an expert criminal defence team of lawyers. If you have a friend or loved on who is remanded into custody we can arrange a visit to prison to discuss their case. If they already have criminal defence solicitors and you are not happy with the way they are handling the case we can take over conduct.
Causing or allowing the death of a child or a young adult
Under the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 section 5 a person (D) is guilty of a criminal offence if a child or vulnerable adult (V) dies as a result of the unlawful act of D and who was a member of the same household as V and had frequent contact with V.
At the time there must be a significant risk of serious physical harm being caused to V by the unlawful act of D and either D was the person whose act caused Vs death or:
D was, or ought to have been, aware of the risk of serious physical harm
D failed to take such steps as he could reasonable have been expected to take to protect V from the risk of serious harm and
The act occurred in circumstances of the kind that D foresaw or ought to have foreseen
MURDER OR MANSLAUGHTER
The offence created under this section is akin to cases where murder or manslaughter could be alleged. When the Crown Prosecution Service charges this offence it may often be charged alongside an allegation of murder or manslaughter and has the effect of altering the evidential and procedural rules for the trial.
The maximum sentence for this offence is 14 years imprisonment and can only be tried in the Crown Court.
CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER
The law surrounding this offence is complicated and involves a multitude of different legal issues. If you have been charged or are under investigation for this offence, or murder or manslaughter, it is essential that you take immediate legal advice from a competent criminal defence lawyer.
At Old Bailey Solicitors our criminal lawyers have decades of experience of defending the most serious and complex criminal matters including cases involving sensitive issues such as allegations of child abuse and neglect.
Our criminal solicitors are able to professionally deal with any media interest in your case and have dealt with high profile murder trials and other serious criminal cases.
The offence of infanticide is designed to cover the situation where a mother has killed her child under the age of 12 months in circumstances where the mother is not fully responsible for her actions.
INFANTICIDE AND DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY
The offence was introduced by the Infanticide Act 1938 and it predates the introduction of the defence of diminished responsibility. The offence has survived the introduction of the defence of diminished responsibility as it can be charged from the outset of proceedings and can be used to avoid charging a women with murder or manslaughter.
Section 1 of the Act states that:
Where a woman by any wilful act or omission causes the death of her child being a child under the age of twelve months, but at the time of the act or omission the balance of her mind was disturbed by reason of her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth to the child or by reason of the effect of lactation consequent upon the birth of the child, then, if the circumstances were such that but for this Act the offence would have amounted to murder or manslaughter, she shall be guilty of an offence, to wit of infanticide, and may for such offence be dealt with and punished as if she had been guilty of the offence of manslaughter of the child.
MURDER AND INFANTICIDE
When a defendant is charged on an indictment for murder the jury may find her not guilty of murder but guilty of infanticide.
If the prosecution seeks to prove murder against a mother the burden is on the prosecution to prove that it is not a case of infanticide.
Infanticide has been criticised as the disturbance of the mother’s mind must be due to either the mother not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth or to the effect of lactation consequent upon the birth of her child which are criteria now regarded as narrow and outdated.
EXPERT CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYERS
Our criminal solicitors have extensive experience of defending sensitive cases. We realise that cases of infanticide are acutely distressing and our lawyers will ensure your case is dealt with appropriately. Our solicitors have significant experience of instructing the country’s leading psychiatrists and medical experts.
If you have been charged with murder or infanticide please contact us to discuss your case in confidence with an experienced criminal defence solicitor.
Murder and Manslaughter
At Old Bailey Solicitors we have extensive experience of defending murder cases both as instructed solicitors or as lead or junior advocates at Court. We can represent you from the beginning of the police investigation or we can represent you in court if you have already been chargedhe .
Murder falls within the broader definition of Homicide. Homicide covers the offences of:
- Specific offences such as causing death by dangerous or careless driving, infanticide or corporate manslaughter.
Murder is when a person of sound mind:
- Unlawfully kills
- Any human being
- Under the Queens Peace
- With an intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (Malice aforethought)
INTENTION TO KILL OR CAUSE GBH
In order to be convicted of Murder the prosecution must show that when the defendant unlawfully killed the person that it was done with a malice aforethought. This is the element of the offence which distinguishes murder from manslaughter. Malice aforethought means that there must be a specific intention to either kill or cause grievous bodily harm. This element of the offence is referred to by lawyers as the mens rea or mental element of the offence. The prosecution do not need to prove any ill will towards the victim nor any premeditation.
In addition to “complete” defences such as alibi or self defence, in cases of murder there are three special “partial” defences which if successfully argued reduce the offence to voluntary manslaughter. Follow the link for more information on these special defences and Voluntary Manslaughter.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the accused has committed the murder. It is our role as defence lawyers to attack the prosecution’s assertions about the case. We will also present the defence carefully, robustly and fearlessly to the Court.
If a jury finds a defendant not guilty of murder, they can alternatively convict the defendant, if appropriate to do so in the circumstances, for manslaughter, grievous bodily harm with intent, attempted murder, encouraging or assisting suicide, child destruction, infanticide or wounding with intent.
There are broadly two main categories of involuntary manslaughter. Both of these categories of unlawful killing do not require malice aforethought which distinguish them from murder. These are:
- Unlawful Act Manslaughter – killing by an unlawful act likely to cause bodily harm
- Gross Negligence Manslaughter
Please follow the links in menu for more information on both these categories of involuntary manslaughter or contact us to speak to an expert criminal defence solicitor on the phone or arrange a consultation.
Gross Negligence Manslaughter - Health and Safety
DUTY OF CARE
Prosecutions for gross negligence manslaughter are instigated against business owners or those in a similar responsible position where there is a breach in the duty of care in respect of certain individuals such as employees, tenants, customers or patients.
The breach of the duty of care owed must have caused a death and amount to gross negligence to the extent that it is regarded as criminal conduct and deserves punishment.
Gross negligence manslaughter is no longer applicable to incorporated businesses who will instead be prosecuted for Corporate Manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Individual company directors or other senior level individuals however may still be prosecuted for specific health and safety offences or gross negligence manslaughter.
The maximum sentence for gross negligence manslaughter is life imprisonment but sentencing practice varies greatly according to the individual facts of the case.
At Old Bailey Solicitors we have significant experience of defending all forms of Homicide case and we will aggressively defend your position from the start of any investigation. We are experienced in dealing with the Health and Safely Executive (HSE), representing clients at interview under caution, and defending clients at Court.
If you are due to be interviewed under caution please follow this link for further information on the police caution or contact us for a free initial telephone advice or book a conference with an experienced criminal defence solicitor.
Unlawful Act Manslaughter - Involuntary Manslaughter
In order to successfully prosecute a case the CPS must show that the defendant committed an act which is unlawful independent of the actual death which has resulted from the act. Most usually the unlawful act will be an assault or some other offence against the person but can include different types of offences such as arson or criminal damage.
DANGEROUS UNLAWFUL ACT
The unlawful act which is committed must be dangerous. This is an objective test which does not depend on what the defendant’s understanding of likely harm is but on what a sober and reasonable person would appreciate.
LIKELY TO CAUSE BODILY HARM
The harm likely to result from the unlawful act must be physical harm. There must also be a causal link between the harm and the resultant death. There must be no fresh intervening cause between the unlawful act and the death.
Our lawyers have years of experience defending serious and complex cases involving all forms of homicide. In cases of manslaughter complex legal arguments need to be made at Court. Our lawyers have extensive experience of both preparing homicide trials and also tenaciously representing clients at Court.
We will assemble the right team of ciminal lawyers for your case to make sure your defence is conducted to the highest possible standards.
At Old Bailey Solicitors our criminal defence lawyers have significant experience of defending murder and manslaughter charges. We also have extensive experience of defending fatal road traffic accidents where causing death by careless or dangerous driving are alleged.
EMERGENCY POLICE STATION REPRESENTATION 24/7
From the first stages of a criminal investigation into a homicide we will assign our expert lawyers to protect your rights and your defence. Most often where a death has resulted we will instruct an independent and expert pathologist to review the police’s evidence.
We will ensure that all angles are explored and every aspect of the crime scene is investigated.
SUPPORTIVE CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYERS
We know that murder allegations cause huge stress, not only for the accused, but also for the family of the accused. We are sensitive to this and we are experience in providing a supportive and responsive service to family and friends.
MURDER DEFENCE SOLICITORS
Our lawyers have defending suspects accused of the full variety of homicide allegations ranging from deaths resulting from domestic disputes all the way to complex allegations of serial murder. Our criminal defence solicitors are often called on to advise in relation to gang related incidents.
FREE CONFIDENTIAL DISCUSSION
If your loved one has been arrested, and you are not happy with their current representation, please call us for a free confidential discussion. We may be able to have representation transferred to our firm. If you are currently on bail in relation to a murder allegation then please contact us
There are three special defences to murder:
- Loss of Control (replacing Provocation)
- Diminished Responsibility
- Killing in pursuance of a Suicide Pact
Each of these defences are only partial defences as they only reduce the offence from murder to manslaughter. Therefore arguing these defences will not lead to a not guilty verdict. The most significant reason for arguing these defences is to avoid the mandatory life sentence imposed for a conviction for murder. If convicted for manslaughter the sentencing judge has discretion in respect of the sentences which may be imposed.
Loss of Control - Voluntary Manslaughter
This defence was newly introduced in 2010 and abolished the defence of provocation. Section 54 (1) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 provides the following:
(1) Where a person kills or is a party to the killing of another D is not to be convicted of murder if
(a) D’s acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the killing resulted from D’s loss of self-control,
(b) the loss of self-control had a qualifying trigger, and
(c) a person of D’s sex and age, with a normal degree of tolerance and self-restraint and in the circumstances of D, might have reacted in the same or in a similar way to D.
LOSS OF SELF CONTROL
The loss of self control need not be sudden, which can be seen as further broadening the scope of this defence in respect of victims of domestic violence or abuse. The defence however specifically excludes revenge attacks.
Section 55 of the CJA 2009 states that the following amount to qualifying triggers:
- the defendant’s loss of self-control was attributable to the defendant’s fear of serious violence from the victim against the defendant or another person or,
- the defendant’s loss of self-control was attributable to a thing or things done or said (or both) which:
- constituted circumstances of an extremely grave character, and
- caused D to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged or
- the defendant’s loss of self-control was attributable to a combination of the above two triggers.
A fear of serious violence is to be disregarded to the extent that it was caused by something which the defendant incited to be said or done for the purposes of providing an excuse to use violence. Similarly a sense of being seriously wronged is not justified if the defendant incited the thing to be said or done for the purposes of providing an excuse to use violence. Furthermore a fact that a thing said or done constituted sexual infidelity is to be disregarded.
NORMAL DEGREE OF TOLERANCE AND SELF-RESTRAINT
This element of the defence requires looking at the defendant in terms of how an ordinary person of the defendant’s sex and age would react. Furthermore it allows for all of the individual’s circumstances to be taken into consideration.
Circumstances which are not relevant however are those which only bear on the defendant’s capacity for tolerance and self-restraint.
The law and procedure in respect of homicide offences is complex, the wrong decisions can seriously harm your defence. At Old Bailey Solicitors our criminal lawyers haveÂ extensive experience of dealing with all types of homicide cases.
Diminished Responsibility - Voluntary Manslaughter
The law in respect of diminished responsibility was changed as of the 4th October 2010. Section 2 of the Homicide Act 1957 now reads as follows:
(1) A person (D) who kills or is a party to the killing of another is not to be convicted of murder if D was suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning which:
(a) arose from a recognised medical condition;
(b) substantially impaired D’s ability to do one or more of the things mentioned in subsection (1A); and
(c) provides an explanation for D’s acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the killing.
(1A) Those things are:
(a) to understand the nature of D’s conduct;
(b) to form a rational judgement;
(c) to exercise self-control.
(1B) For the purposes of subsection (1) (c ), an abnormality of mental functioning provides an explanation for D’s conduct if it causes, or is a significant contributory factor in causing, D to carry out that conduct.
ABNORMALITY OF MENTAL FUNCTIONING
The abnormality of mental functioning needs to have arisen from a recognised medical condition. Our solicitors have significant experience of instructing the best expert psychiatrists who will present their evidence in Court.
In order to establish that there is a substantial impairment it must be shown that the defendant’s ability to do the following is impaired:
- To understand the nature of their own conduct
- To form a rational judgement
- To exercise self-control
Again medical evidence will be key to establishing this element of the defence.
After considering the evidence presented to the Court the jury determines whether there was an impairment and if so whether it was substantial.
PROVIDING AN EXPLANATION FOR ACTS AND OMISSIONS
The abnormality of mental functioning must provide an explanation why the defendant has carried out the killing. The abnormality of mental functioning does not have to be the sole cause of the killing but it must at least be a significant contributory factor in causing the defendant to carry out the act.
At Old Bailey Solicitors we have extensive experience of instructing expert psychiatrists and defending homicide cases. We will put the right team of experts and criminal lawyers together to ensure your case is defended to the highest possible standards.
Suicide Pacts - Voluntary Manslaughter
It shall be manslaughter, and shall not be murder, for a person acting in pursuance of a suicide pact between him and another to kill the other or be a party to the other being killed by a third person.
Homicide Act 1957, Section 4
The burden of raising this defence is on the accused and must be established on the balance of probabilities.
A suicide pact is defined as being:
Common agreement between two or more persons having for its object the death of all of them, whether or not each is to take his own life, but nothing done by a person who enters into a suicide pact shall be treated as done by him in pursuance of the pact unless it is done while he has the settled intention of dying in pursuance of the pact.
SETTLED INTENTION OF DYING
The accused must of intended to die in the pact. A person who only assists in a suicide, with no intention of being in a pact, does not fall within the terms of this defence and may instead be liable for prosecution for assisting a suicide under Section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961.
At Old Bailey Solicitors we have extensive experience of defending sensitive and high profile cases and we will ensure that your defence is led by an experienced criminal lawyer.
- Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
- Causing or allowing the death of a child or a young adult
- Murder and Manslaughter
- Involuntary Manslaughter
- Gross Negligence Manslaughter - Health and Safety
- Unlawful Act Manslaughter - Involuntary Manslaughter
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Loss of Control - Voluntary Manslaughter
- Diminished Responsibility - Voluntary Manslaughter
- Suicide Pacts - Voluntary Manslaughter