Manslaughter

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  • Manslaughter
  • IHN
    Member

    Manslaughter, as I understand it, is basically where someone died because of your actions (or inactions), but you did not intend for that to happen.

    Now, assuming that if that were to happen, living with the knowledge that they had caused the loss of a life would be enough punishment for most people. So what purpose does it serve to send people to prison for manslaughter?

    Am I just a bleeding heart liberal?

    coffeeking
    Member

    It could be careless disregard for other though. Also I think they use it as a fallback when they cant prove someone intended it but they know full well they did.

    GNARGNAR
    Member

    My understanding – you could be guilty of manslaughter for killing someone by viciously beating them. You might be cleared of murder but still guilty of manslughter, so it makes sense imo.

    geetee1972
    Member

    How about you got into a brawl and kicked the living ***** out of them and they died as a result?

    Or how about you set fire to a building to cash in on the insurance without knowing there was someone in the building?

    Or maybe you killed someone while driving a car over the limit or while using your mobile phone.

    sofatester
    Member

    Accidents happen. The “power that be” have to be seen to be doing something.

    I know where you’re coming from. You are still a bleeding heart liberal though!

    samuri
    Member

    Aren’t there degrees of manslaughter? You’ll not go to prison for driving over someone on a bike because they’re scum and you’re god so it must have been a complete honest *accident*, but beating someone to death when you actually only meant to beat them *nearly* to death, well that’s a locking up offence.

    IHN
    Member

    How about you got into a brawl and kicked the living ***** out of them and they died as a result?

    Or how about you set fire to a building to cash in on the insurance without knowing there was someone in the building?

    Or maybe you killed someone while driving a car over the limit or while using your mobile phone.

    I see the second two as different to the first. In the first, you knew what you were doing would injure the person, and you should have been aware that it could lead to their death.

    In the second two you had no intention to cause harm. The fact that you did cause harm would (should) haunt you for the rest of you life.

    Then again, I’m in danger of entering into a heated debate with a Turner, and I know that’s never wise… 😉

    Junkyard
    Member

    Imagine I knock you of the side of a mountain doing a dangerous overtaking manoevoure (clearly this is fiction me overtaking downhill pah)you crash and die…… can I just go home then and feel bad?
    What if I then deliberately kicked you to get you out of my way (but did not mean for you to crash)
    What if I did not see you and it was genuine accident?
    etc etc they are not all equivalent situations.
    There may be some circumstances where no punishment is deserved but NEVER for all circumstances.

    grumm
    Member

    You’re assuming that everyone would give that much of a shit about having caused the loss of a life.

    You could argue that no crimes should be punished as ppl will feel bad about doing them, which is punishment enough. If you were a raving loonie.

    samuri
    Member

    I see the second two as different to the first. In the first, you knew what you were doing would injure the person, and you should have been aware that it could lead to their death.

    The second two are also extremely dangerous and can easily lead to deaths. All those are locking up offenses in my eyes, but then so is bike theft.

    IHN
    Member

    You’re assuming that everyone would give that much of a **** about having caused the loss of a life.

    True, that’s the bleeding heat liberal in me.

    You could argue that no crimes should be punished as ppl will feel bad about doing them, which is punishment enough.

    That’s a pretty tenuous extrapolation of what I said.

    There may be some circumstances where no punishment is deserved but NEVER for all circumstances.

    That’s pretty much my point. But which circumstance is which?

    sofatester
    Member

    Bring back hanging!

    geetee1972
    Member

    Simon – great to be debating with you (how are you by the way?) I agree with the differences you highlighted, but by the same argument, if you set fire to a building, then you know in advance of doing that that your actions are going to result in harm coming to someone should they be in that building. So either you knew for sure some one would be in that building, in which case it is arguably murder or you just weren’t sure. You could argue that you genuinely thought the building was empty, but thinking and knowing are not the same thing and of course if you were really 100% sure then you wouldn’t be up on a manslaughter charge in the first place.
    If you hit someone in the head in a brawl then of course you are intending to hurt them, but that’s not the same thing as killing someone.
    The drunk driving one I thinnk is also a little different – isn’t there a technicality like ‘diminished responsibility’ involved because of the impairment to judgement that alcohol induces?
    As for the texting/mobile phone example, we should by now all be aware of the risks

    IHN
    Member

    I’m good, thanks.

    I’m not denying that all these examples are ‘bad things’, I just question what purpose prison serves in some cases

    Take the driving/texting example. What stops you from doing it (assuming you don’t) –
    a) the thought that you might injure or kill yourself or someone else, or
    b) the fact that if you do you’ll go to prison?

    I’d say that for most people its a), so sending people to prison does not serve as a deterrent to others.

    BillMC
    Member

    ‘the impairment to judgement that alcohol induces?’….isn’t that man’s laughter?

    thegreatape
    Member

    Murder – kill someone and either intend to cause death or intend to cause serious injury.

    Manslaughter – no intention to cause death or serious injury, but does so either by recklessness (eg chucking a brick off a car park which then hits and kills someone) or criminal negligence (which can be an act or an omission).

    (Involuntary manslaughter is essentially murder but by someone who has a sufficient defence in law eg self-defence or diminished responsibility)

    Junkyard
    Member

    prison does not help look at recidivism ( I just love dropping that word into a sentence) but it does protect us whilst they are banged up!!
    detterents dont work either brady and hindley committed their crimes with the death penalty inplace but it had been repealed when they stood trial.

    geetee1972
    Member

    Very good point but I think that we have option b) for all those people to whom option a) doesn’t apply, even if it’s only a small minority.

    I also think that the need to repay a debt caused by your actions, to both the aggrieved/bereaved and society as a whole is an important part of making society sustainable. The alternative is a little like the Catholic sacrament of confession – you can act as badly as you like as long as your truly sorry and confess your sins. That might be OK for God (or god depending on your perspective) but it makes life very difficult for everyone else.

    thegreatape
    Member

    Re the sending to prison question, it depends on the circumstance – there are countless scenarios that could lead to someone being charged with manslaughter.

    IHN
    Member

    I also think that the need to repay a debt caused by your actions, to both the aggrieved/bereaved and society as a whole is an important part of making society sustainable.

    I agree, but does prison do that?

    The alternative is a little like the Catholic sacrament of confession – you can act as badly as you like as long as your truly sorry and confess your sins. That might be OK for God (or god depending on your perspective) but it makes life very difficult for everyone else.

    Hypocritical Catholic bullsh1t is a topic for an entirely separate debate.

    geetee1972
    Member

    I agree, but does prison do that?

    Well that’s the six million dollar question isn’t it. I guess it depends on what newspaper you read. If you’re a Daily Mail/Daily Express evangalist, then the answer is an emphatic yes. If you read The Guardian, then you might have a very different view.

    Personally (and I would rather be castrated than read either the Mail or the Express) I can’t think of any worse penalty than being deprived of my liberty. Now the 12 million dollar question is whether prison really does deprive you of your liberty!

    RichPenny
    Member

    Sadly, its not as simple as your first post thegreattape. Someone I knew (although not very well, more friend of a friend really) got into a petty argument in a pub. They took it outside and the bloke stabbed him in the chest. He got 8 years for manslaughter. How the **** you can carry a knife, use it to stab someone and not be convicted of murder is beyond me really. This guy was released some time ago, yet Jack will be 18 forever. Lost quite a lot of faith in the justice system after that, tbh.

    grizzlygus
    Member

    Prison’s too good for them.

    .

    Mind you, so is hanging ….

    thegreatape
    Member

    RichPenny – that’s the legislation as I was taught it, admittedly some years ago, the fundamental difference between the two offences being the state of mind (mens rea) of the offender, rather than the outcome of the act.

    I agree with you that the justice system can be anything but sometimes.

    andym
    Member

    There was a report from the Law Commission (IIRC) arguing that the UK should have an offence of second-degree murder because manslaughter covers so much ground – from someone killing because of gross negligence through to killing someone by stabbing them.

    Munqe-chick
    Member

    The murder v manslaughter debate is exactly as thegreatape states.

    there is Manslaughter by raising a special def (diminished responibility, provocation or suicide pact) there is manslaughter by an unlawful act or manslaughter by gross negligence.

    In the 2nd – manslaughter by an unlawful act , they have conducted a positive act that caused the victim’s death and was inherently unlawful, such as punching someone who falls backwards and hits the pavement with his head and dies.

    Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being under the Queens Peace with malice aforethought (ie with the intention of killing or causing GBH).

    however in both offences you will be aware of your actions! Manslaughter saw the risk and went onto commit the offence anyway.

    I can say that if I got sent to prison it would send the holy bej***out of me and I would not be committing any further offences, however the kind of people who are “in and out” of prison are normally those that have no house, no income, no job (okay normally because of their own volition) but prison to them is an easy ride, 3 regular meals a day, access to a gym etc etc.

    For the law abiding citizen I think prison is a deterrent.

    gingerflash
    Member

    If it’s reasonably foreseeable that your actions would cause death, and they do cause death, then that’s murder. eg, shooting someone. Hard to say “I never foresaw it might kill them”

    If it’s reasonably foreseeable that your deliberate action would cause serious injury, not death, but they do in fact cause a death, then that’s manslaughter. eg. you hit someone with a lump of wood. You can’t say “I didn’t think it would cause them any injury” but neither can the prosecution say that you should have known it would kill them.

    There’s another type of manslaughter, where the death is caused by gross negligence. There’s no intent to either kill or even injure, but the degree of neglect or negligence is so awful that the person must be punished. This is the one that’s very occasionally applied to car drivers, doctors, people leading kids on trips into the mountains without any idea what they’re doing etc. Whether the negligence is bad enough is a jury question. The direction from the judge is usually something wide-open like “do you think the negligence is so bad that this person should be punished, possibly by imprisonment?”. If they think it was just a bit careless, or a pure accident, then they can acquit.

    It’s been a while since I did any criminal law but I think that’s about it.

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