Homicide in Victoria
Causing the death of another human being is one of the most serious offences known to law. It carries with it a potential for lengthy jail sentences and the stain of being labelled a killer by your friends, family, and entire community.
A person is guilty of homicide if the Crown proves that you caused the death of a human being in any one of the following four most common ways:
- By committing an “unlawful act”
- By “criminal negligence”
- By causing that human being to do anything that causes his death, by deception or fear of violence
- If the deceased person is a child or sick, by wilfully frightening that human being
The prosecution must prove all these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
Although the Code definition for manslaughter is short, virtually every word and phrase in the definition of manslaughter has a complicated legal definition. Only a skilled criminal defence team can properly assess the case to determine whether your actions, legally speaking, “caused” the person’s death. Whether you committed an “unlawful act” or acted with “criminal negligence” is also a complex legal concept.
Bail Conditions for Manslaughter Charge
You face an uphill battle securing release on a manslaughter charge, primarily because the seriousness of the offence allegedly committed is one factor the Judge must consider when deciding whether or not to give you bail.
However, this is just one factor to be considered. We will forcefully and truthfully argue that you should be released while your case proceeds through the justice system, by presenting a detailed picture of you to the Judge demonstrating that you are not a danger to flee the province or commit more offences on release.
If you are released, you can expect to be placed on strict conditions, including: a curfew; a ban on possessing or drinking alcohol; a ban on possessing any weapons; and an order that you not have any contact with potential witnesses in your case.
Defending Manslaughter Charge
A serious charge requires a serious defence, and you need a lawyer with a keen legal eye to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and identify the best plan of attack.
Our lawyers start working for you by undertaking a thorough review of all the evidence generated by the police investigation into the death of the victim. Homicide investigations receive special attention from the police, so the amount of evidence is almost always large and complex.
There may be numerous witness statements, autopsy reports, DNA evidence, firearms analyst reports, and surveillance video footage of the crime scene. Perhaps the police interrogated you and you made a statement that the prosecution now wants to put into evidence against you, or searched your personal property (including your vehicle or home).
Our lawyers carefully review every single piece of evidence in your case. Where there are weaknesses, gaps, or inconsistencies in the evidence, we will find them and exploit them for your benefit. We are also skilled at identifying breaches of your constitutional rights by the police and arguing that all evidence that was obtained by those breaches should be excluded from the evidence.
Some of the many issues your defence may focus on include:
- Was the death of the victim caused by your actions, or something else?
- Can the Crown prove that you were the one who committed the crime?
- Did you commit an “unlawful act” in the course of causing the victim’s death?
- Did the police violate your rights in the course of gathering evidence against you?
- Do any of the witnesses against you have issues with their trustworthiness?
The stakes are high.
Manslaughter is a very broadly defined crime and captures incidents that are classified as “near accidents” on one end of the scale, and “near murders” on the other end. Where ever your offence falls on this scale, it will play a big part in determining your sentence.
Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a minimum of 4 years if a firearm was used in the course of the offence. For all other situations, there is no minimum penalty.
We approach your sentencing hearing by ensuring that all favorable information about your past and future prospects are put before the judge in an honest and compelling fashion. We make sure that any reports prepared by probation officers or medical experts are fairly and accurately portrayed to the Judge. We will also rely on previous cases in support of our argument on why you should get the lowest sentence that is necessary in the circumstances of your case.
In addition to a jail sentence, people found guilty of manslaughter are subject to an order prohibiting them from possessing any weapons for a minimum of ten years, as well as an order that they give a sample of their DNA to the national databank.