Learning About Law: A Guide to the Term 'Manslaughter' in the UK



From both a legal and moral perspective, murder is of course considered as one of the most serious of all offences. And many people assume that if you have been accused of manslaughter, then this is a similar kind of thing, however, it's rarely this clear cut. If you watch soap operas like Eastenders, you might be under the impression that manslaughter is simply an accidental murder. But this isn't the case and in this guide, you will be introduced to the technicalities of manslaughter under UK law, as well as the punishments received for this accusation. When a person has been accused of manslaughter, the first thing they would do is seek the legal advice of a criminal solicitor who specialises in the area of manslaughter, murder and other serious accusations. They are able to defend these cases with expertise and experience to ensure their clients are properly presented. 

What is manslaughter? 
Legal jargon in the UK is very technical. So this guide will aim to simplify this. Being accused or tried for a manslaughter charge, in essence, means that the intent on the perpetrator's part was to not murder the person who was killed. They may have meant to cause serious or grievous bodily harm but instead of this being the outcome, the person died. Intent is key in these cases. A solicitor representing them will make this the focus of their defence. A murder charge is only given if it can be determined that the intent of the injuries caused was to kill. Manslaughter charges can be defended based on where the injuries were made on the body. Or the result of the injuries being due to unforeseen medical issues pertaining to the person who was killed. And of course, the remorse shown by the person who was arrested. 

What is the maximum punishment for this in the UK? 
Deciding the custodial sentence for manslaughter in the UK is complicated. It would be very rare for somebody to receive a life sentence for manslaughter. The sentence that would ultimately be received for committing manslaughter would depend on many variables within the case. Such as the severity of the injuries caused to the person who has died, how the perpetrator responded and any remorse that has been shown since the crime was committed. It would also take into account other things, such as their mental state at the time of the act and whether or not they were intoxicated with any substance. It would also look into medical issues which may have caused heightened aggression. 

What to look for in a legal team 
When a person is accused of committing manslaughter, they need a legal team who knows the law inside and out revolving around manslaughter. They will of course need to be open and honest with their legal team throughout this process, so choosing a solicitor that they're comfortable with is important. 

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