• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In relation to voluntary manslaughter discuss the suggestion that the current law is satisfactory and not in need of reform.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

In relation to voluntary manslaughter discuss the suggestion that the current law is satisfactory and not in need of reform. Diminished responsibility can be used as a defence if the defendant had an abnormality of mind, which was a cause of the killing. This is more satisfactory than having to use insanity for a defence, however there are still problems with it. The burden of proof should not be on the defendant, in most other defences the defendant only has to raise the issue and the prosecution has to disprove it. This should also apply to diminished responsibility. At the moment defendants pleading diminished responsibility are at a disadvantage which is not faced by those raising provocation. ...read more.

Middle

Also the law commission has pointed out that there is a disagreement on whether the concept of 'substantial impairment of mental responsibility' is a medical question. This should not be decided by doctors as this is a moral question. The wording can also confuse the jury and a lack of understanding leads to inconsistent decisions. There is also in many cases, an overlap of the defences diminished responsibility and provocation, as the jury has to take into account the defendants mental state when deciding if provocation should succeed. This can cause confusion when they put forward both defences, as for provocation the defence only have to raise the issue, but for diminished responsibility the defence has to prove it on the balance of probabilities. ...read more.

Conclusion

This means that a completely innocent person can be ruled as provocation and that the victim doesn't have to realise its actions are provoking. Provocation provides a defence for anger, but there is no defence for people who kill in fear or out of despair or compassion. Why is it that people can be excused because of anger when surely people who kill in fear or out of despair or compassion should have a defence? Some reforms have been proposed. One is that only 'gross provocation' would be accepted for provocation. This would prevent cases such as Doughty been successful. The partial defence should not be applied where the provocation was incited by the defendant for the purpose of providing an excuse to use violence or if the defendant acted in considered desire for revenge. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Criminal Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Criminal Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Is the current law on the non-fatal offences against the person satisfactory?

    4 star(s)

    The issue of immediacy of the threat was addressed in the case of Smith v Superintendent of Woking Police Station and Constanza, in which it was stated that the victim must apprehend the application of force "at some time not excluding the immediate future".

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Critical evaluation of murder for A2 law unit 4

    3 star(s)

    However it could be argued that in these circumstances a defendant shouldn't be punished with a mandatory life sentence, there is always the partial defences of diminished responsibility, provocation or suicide pact. These defences were designed for people who didn't deliberately intend to kill the victim, but ended up with the death.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss whether the rules governing insanity as a defence in criminal law are in ...

    3 star(s)

    The first rule is that the defendant must have ?disease of mind? but here we are not talking about the medical definition. The cause of the disease of mind must be internal meaning that the likes of brain tumours don?t count.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    How effective was the defence of intoxication?

    3 star(s)

    Drunken mistake can be used if D did not have the required mens rea for the offence then for a specific intent offence he has a defence. If the offence is basic intent then D has not got a defence.

  1. Murder and Voluntary manslaughter - analysis of cases and the plea of involuntary manslaughter.

    This was seen in the case of Pagett 1983. Legal Facts: Defendant armed with a shotgun and cartridges, shot at police who were attempting to arrest him. Defendant held a 16-year-old girl who was pregnant by him as a shield.

  2. Explain the rules governing insanity as a defence in criminal law and discuss whether ...

    He argued that arteriosclerosis was a physical, as opposed to mental, disease. A physical disease which caused the brain cells to deteriorate would be a disease of the mind but, until that happened, his condition was a temporary interference with the working of the brain, comparable with concussion.

  1. List and explain the six most important cases for the law on insanity, explaining ...

    In my judgement the condition of the brain is irrelevant and so is the question whether the condition is curable or incurable, transitory or permanent. ? This judgement made by Lord Devlin meant that from then on, any disease that caused the defendant to suffer a defect of reason, qualified as a disease of the mind.

  2. Critically discuss the Labour Governments record of crime control since coming to power in ...

    The BCS is useful in relation to the Criminal Statistics by not only acting as a supplement by helping to remedy some of the gaps in official statistics, but also in providing a useful check as either a confirmation or modification of views derived from the Criminal Statistics.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work