At Lawtons Solicitors we have the necessary experience to defend all murder and manslaughter cases, both as instructed solicitors or lead/junior advocates at court.

This area of law is governed by the broader definition of homicide, which is complex and involves a number of factors influencing both the court proceedings and the eventual outcome.

We believe it is our duty to work with you right from the beginning of a police investigation through the court process to ensure we can fairly represent you at every stage. The level of resources available to the Police and Crown Prosecution Services in cases like this is huge; it is vital that if you, a family member or friend find themselves under investigation or being prosecuted for such an offence that you have a team of lawyers at your disposal who have the specialist experience to challenge the evidence and robustly defend the case.

Murder, Manslaughter & The Law

There are three main areas when it comes to “homicide”, with the most serious being murder.  The other two are manslaughter, split between voluntary and involuntary, and lastly death by infanticide, familial homicide, corporate manslaughter or offences where it is said a person’s driving may have resulted in a death.


By definition, the law looks at murder as when any human being, who otherwise is shown to be of ‘sound mind’, unlawfully and with intention, kills. Due to the seriousness  of the crime, all cases are heard by the Crown Court.

It is the intention element of the definition that distinguishes murder from manslaughter, and this is cited as malice aforethought or referred to by solicitors as the mens rea, which literally means the mental element of the offence.

In determining the category of the offence and it’s seriousness, the Court will consider a number of other factors such as whether there has been the use of weapons and/or if there are previous convictions, especially if these are numerous and/or have been recorded as being of a violent nature. By their nature, murders are complex and investigations can be detailed and highly forensic. The evidence relied on can be highly complex and extensive reliance will often be placed on the opinions of “experts”.

When it comes to a Trial, it is up to the Jury to decide whether beyond all reasonable doubt, a murder has been committed. If this is the case, mandatory life imprisonment is the sentence, and the judge will set a minimum amount of time that a person must serve in prison before they can be released. This is known as the Tariff and isn’t necessarily the amount of time that will be served, it is the minimum, subject to the person’s behaviour in prison, for example.


Manslaughter is equally complex and has a number of elements and can be committed in a number of ways. For example, manslaughter may be proven when someone has died but that:

  • An act was provoked immediately before the act that caused the death took place, this is sometimes referred to as a sudden loss of control.
  • That the person that caused the death of the victim had not done so intently but recklessly, for example.
  • An individual has suffered diminished responsibility due to a mental illness, in these types of cases, complex psychiatric evidence is required.

Other factors which may be taken into consideration include acts of self-defence, if this can be proven, or acting in defence of someone else or preventing a different crime from occurring (burglary).

Whilst there is no minimum or maximum sentence for manslaughter, the decision will very much depend on the individual case and surrounding factors, which will also take into account age and previous convictions.

Accused of Murder or Manslaughter?

Murder and manslaughter charges are both very serious charges, with the potential for life-changing consequences. 

Not only should you seek legal advice as soon as possible, but it is also imperative to work with your solicitor to provide all the facts of the case.  This way, you have the best chance to achieve a more favourable outcome, based on the evidence provided. 

Lawtons Solicitors is here to help and guide you through the whole process.

Contact Us

For more information on murder and manslaughter laws and sentencing, or to discuss an individual case, please call 0333 202 0972 or email

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