Change in murder law proposed

#1
Proposed reforms of the law on homicide in England and Wales could change the circumstances under which a murder charge is reduced to manslaughter.

Defendants who successfully claim they were "seriously wronged" by the victim could now be convicted of manslaughter.

Under the plan, long-term domestic abuse victims can also use a partial defence of "fear of serious violence".

Attorney General Baroness Scotland said the proposed changes would bring murder laws "right up to date".

The plans face public consultation before new legislation is introduced.

They follow a 2006 report from the Law Commission which made wide-ranging recommendations for changes to legislation.

The proposals suggest the current defence of provocation should be scrapped.

However, the new defence in its place - that "words and conduct" left the killer "seriously wronged" - should only be available in exceptional cases, the report says.

The Ministry of Justice has stressed that the law would be changed to make it clear that someone who discovers their partner is having an affair would be unable to argue they had been "seriously wronged".

One of the changes due is to the so-called "provocation defence".

This allows men who kill their wife or partner in a fit of jealousy to plead provocation but does not currently apply to women who murder someone who has been abusing them for many years.

But barrister Geoffrey Robertson, QC, told the BBC that the changes did not address all his concerns:

"Quite a few of these reforms are moderate and sensible, but the real problem with the law of murder is that it doesn't distinguish - it has a mandatory life sentence.

"Any mandatory sentence is unjust because it doesn't distinguish between the terrorist and the gangland executioner and the mercy killer at the other end of the scale, who maybe doesn't deserve to go to prison at all, but has to be sentenced to life imprisonment, and the domestic killings."

This change would mean that men and women facing domestic violence would be able to argue they were forced to kill their tormentor.

Solicitor Harriet Wistrich, founder of Justice for Women, said: "It will really help move things forward so we have a defence for the modern age that helps those who have suffered long-term abuse to use a defence to they are not convicted of murder and go to prison for life."

Government documents say current laws have made it too easy for men to kill their wives and claim they were provoked by the victim's infidelity.

Legislation has restricted the use of partial defences by women with abusive partners.

Justice Minister Maria Eagle said recent cases had seen judges and juries "trying to stretch the current law".

"With these changes, the law will be clearer," she said.

The minister said the proposed partial defence of long-term abuse marked a "substantial change", although she stressed that the government "would not want to introduce anything that would allow cold, calculating killers to get away with it".

Under the proposals, the partial defence of diminished responsibility would be abolished and replaced with a new defence based on "recognised medical conditions".

But leading barrister Geoffrey Robertson criticised the plans, saying they did not go far enough.

The mandatory life sentence for any murder conviction should be abolished, he told the BBC's Today.

source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7528652.stm
I'm really in two minds about this. On one hand, domestic violence is a terrible thing and we should protect people from its devastating effects. You are much, much more likely to be killed by a partner or ex partner than anyone else.

However, this seems to open the door to premeditated murder. What would the burden of proof be on the "murderer" to demonstrate that they had suffered long term abuse? I would argue that a planned and calculated attack is always wrong and that there are always other options.

On the other hand a "red mist" murder where someone "snaps" in the heat of the moment seems to be less of a defence in these proposals. Where it is more understandable (if not morally good) that someone would commit a murder after a sudden and heinous shock and being overcome by passion. (i.e. finding your partner in bed with someone else)
 
#3
I had to laugh when one of the lawyers complained about a mandatory life sentance for murder - FFS, these days, "life" means 12 years for most killers!
 
#4
Mr_Farenheit said:
There are no easy answers to domestic violence, but surely anybody in a violent relatioship has the option to LEAVE a violent partner!
Clearly, if it was simple to leave a violent partner then more people would do that but it's not. Think about it for a minute - where do you go? How do you stop your partner finding you? Why would you go to the Police when there is still not a national and consistent response to domestic violence? How do you support yourself and your children? How do you face your mutual friends and family if they carry out their threat to kill themselves? And how do you solve all these dilemmas and many more when existing in a state of permanent terror?

In terms of the red mist argument, there is research evidence that demonstrates women reach a state of committing violence in a different way to men - more of a slow burn than a flare up.
 
#5
Prodigal said:
In terms of the red mist argument, there is research evidence that demonstrates women reach a state of committing violence in a different way to men - more of a slow burn than a flare up.

Maybe or maybe not, but even if this is the case, why should the law be changed as suggested to disallow a defence of provocation leading to a 'flare up' act of violence, but to specifically allow a defence of a provocation leading to a 'slow burn' act of violence? (Unless, of course the proposal is inherently sexist).

The state (rightly) does not have the right to exercise the death penalty for any crimes whatsoever, even after the crime has been proved through due process - this right should not, therefore, be given to individuals to exercise to avenge an alleged crime that may or may not even have happened (the alleged perpetrator handily now being dead).

Killing someone because not do to so would lead to your own life being endangered may be justfied. Killing someone because you are not sure where you are going to live or what your income source will be is never justified.
 
#6
No doubt by "The powers vested in me by News International.." a la Monkey Dust.
 
#7
Dilfor, I don't think that this proposal is to allow women who kill their partners being freed without charge. I think it's more about creating another form of offence. Wasn't there some discussion recently about creating different degrees of murder, as in the States?


And it's not about killing someone because you don't know where you're going to live or what your income will be FFS - it's about killing because you think you're going to die otherwise, or in a state of red mist, isn't it?

I have some experience of this. I know someone close to me who we were terribly afraid would find themselves up on a murder charge for that very reason, because of the years (about 16 in total) of physical, emotional and mental abuse at the hands of an alcoholic, psychotic and deranged spouse. The fact he was a well over 6' Infantry officer didn't stop it happening. It ended when she died of cancer.

It was suggested to me that I should have been grateful that my husband didn't hit me when I explained why I was leaving - I said I wouldn't be divorcing him if he had... I'd be burying him with an axe in his head.

I find the subject very difficult to think about objectively, I can't understand how anyone can look themselves in the mirror having done that to someone who is supposed to be their partner.
 
#8
How's it going to work in gay relationships then, will one have to be the registered "reciever" and therefore the get out applies or will both be able to kill each other? Dunno what the rug munchers will do, maybe the ugliest one will be the "man".
 
#9
Prodigal said:
Dilfor, I don't think that this proposal is to allow women who kill their partners being freed without charge. I think it's more about creating another form of offence. Wasn't there some discussion recently about creating different degrees of murder, as in the States?

Unfortunately not.

And it's not about killing someone because you don't know where you're going to live or what your income will be FFS - it's about killing because you think you're going to die otherwise, or in a state of red mist, isn't it?
.
Unfortunately not.
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#10
Prodigal said:
Mr_Farenheit said:
There are no easy answers to domestic violence, but surely anybody in a violent relatioship has the option to LEAVE a violent partner!
Clearly, if it was simple to leave a violent partner then more people would do that but it's not. Think about it for a minute - where do you go? How do you stop your partner finding you? Why would you go to the Police when there is still not a national and consistent response to domestic violence? How do you support yourself and your children? How do you face your mutual friends and family if they carry out their threat to kill themselves? And how do you solve all these dilemmas and many more when existing in a state of permanent terror?

In terms of the red mist argument, there is research evidence that demonstrates women reach a state of committing violence in a different way to men - more of a slow burn than a flare up.
Which also leaves much scope for suggesting premeditation and planning Ahluwalia [1992]. Makes for a interesting argument though.
 
#11
This is surely overlooking the vital fact that all women are "f ucking begging for it" and need pulling into line frequently, if a small percentage of these die, then perhaps this should act as a warning to the others to buck their f ucking ideas up and make sure teas ready on time.
 
#12
What I find hard to reconcile is the pre-meditated nature of the act of killing in these "long term" cases. The threat of serious injury or death is not immediately present in a case of a pre-meditated killing; therefore, it cannot be "self defence" - at least, in the common understanding of it. If there is time to plan a killing like this then surely there is time to find a means of escape? It seems cold, calculating and visious.

On the other hand a "provocation", whilst not excusable, is more understandable in from an emotional perspective. "Red mist" does funny things to people, and a violent immediate shock will provoke a violent immediate reaction.

It the proposal (going by "meedja" reports) just seems rather logicall topsy turvy. If you stubbed your toe on a table leg you may shout "shoite" and feel a bit of rage. If you stubbed your toe on it day in day out for years you wouldn't approach it in the dead of night and chop it up into firewood would you?
 
#13
The threat of serious injury or death is ALWAYS present when someone is holding your head and banging it against the floor, punching you in the stomach and dragging you by the hair down the stairs..........every day. Have you ever talked with any length of time to a domestic abuse victim or seen them interviewed?

There is a general difference between how men and women tend to deal with fear, pain and anger. There s research to show that women don't tend to do the 'red mist' thing (unless they have severe PMT when it is absolutely possible! But that's not what we're talking about).

And then you factor in children, economics etc. I think women are thinking about surviving and keeping their childrens' lives together, not about retaliation - until they get to a certain point.

I can only go on what I've read and observed, I'm not an expert in this area. There's enough coppers who might be able to give a better perspective - and I bet there's a few people on this site who either witnessed it happening when they were kids or who are perpetrators themselves, maybe they have a view..
 
#14
You could take this to extremes. Why would it solely lay at the door of domestic abuse? How about psychological abuse or sexually abuse in the work place? A 'slow burn' affect that builds over months and years and suddenly explodes when Mr. MD(N) touches his secretary in the stationary cupboard and she fcuks him over the head with an industrial stapler?
 
#15
Tough on Crime !!!
 
#16
First, I think that women do do the red mist bit. The issue is that men are generally bigger and stronger than women, hence a woman who attacks a man while experiencing red mist seldom kills him, whereas men have a higher kill ratio. This means that the outcome favours men and so feminists don't like it. Of course women sometimes kill a man under red mist and you can bet that feminists will object to the red mist defence being taken away from them.

Second, I don't believe the slow burn, the way feminists apply it. The final straw is plausible, so keeping your cool the first 100 assaults then loosing it on the 101st is plausible. However, the feminist version is wait until he is asleep and then cut his throat, which is a straight forward case of premeditated murder.

Third, there is already a loophole in the murder laws for women. If a woman kills her children it is infanticide, not murder, and the sentence is much lighter. So extending women's right to get away with murder to other members of the family is not unexpected.
 
#17
Well if they water it down by calling it down they can reduce crime stats for Knife Murders by palming some of them off to man slaughter.

Long story short they can fiddle the books and lie to the public and say they're tacklingt knife related crime.

Open Your eyes. This country and force Senior officers fiddle figures... This just makes it easier. Watch out for new legislation on Possession of a bladed article... Coming to a city near you!
 
#18
As bad as domestic violence is, you cannot have different rules for different people, either we are all equal under the law or we are not.

The current laws on self defence are perfectly adequate and any dilution of the burden of proof is just plain dangerous.

Besides which, any woman stupid enough to stay in an abusive relationship instead of leaving and divorcing the b*stard musn't be given carte blanche to murder.
 
#19
The_Cad said:
As bad as domestic violence is, you cannot have different rules for different people, either we are all equal under the law or we are not.

The current laws on self defence are perfectly adequate and any dilution of the burden of proof is just plain dangerous.

Besides which, any woman stupid enough to stay in an abusive relationship instead of leaving and divorcing the b*stard musn't be given carte blanche to murder.
Or Man!!!
 
#20
Hypothetical situation:

Woman is victim of verbal and emotional abuse for years, destroying her self worth and leaving her depressed - no confidence, feels trapped, as a result of this abuse she begins to suffer mental health problems - Husband then has an affair with another younger more attractive woman, announces his intention to leave to set up a new family and that he's taking the kids with him, and that due to her depression etc. he'll get the kids and he'll do everything in his power to make sure that she never sees them again.

Woman snaps and stabs husband, killing him!


Justifiable provocation or not?















Now reverse the sexes....
 

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