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

Reform of the law on murder.The law commission say it is rickety structure set on shaky foundations and is in dire need of reform. The whole offence as an overview is complex, unclear, uncertain and unfair.

Extracts from this document...


Reform of Murder Murder is a common law offence which is interpreted by the courts. The current common law offence was defined by coke in the 17th century and still exists today. It also doesn't allow for any differentiation between different kinds of killing. Which now, there are many different types of killings such as serial killings, euthanasia, mercy killings etc and therefore the law should adapt to support this. The law commission say it is "rickety structure set on shaky foundations" and is "in dire need of reform". The whole offence as an overview is complex, unclear, uncertain and unfair. In regards to the actus reus, there are some problems with many aspects including cokes definition of "unlawful killing of a human being". First, for the term "human being", it is a bit confusing into what counts as life, and what counts as death in regards to murder. The term "life" is defined in AG ref (NO3 1994) as being from when you are born and breathing independently from the mother. However, for death there is no legal definition, only a medical one of "brain stem" death Malcherek and steel. ...read more.


get prison for life with tariff, a provoked killer which would get manslaughter with a discretional life sentence, and a diminished responsibility killer which would get manslaughter with a discretional life sentence. This isn't fair as here, a mercy killer gets a higher offence than provoked killer whereas a provoked killer has the actus reus and mens rea for murder and a mercy killer doesn't. Also, a mercy killer is doing it out of love whereas a provoked killer is working out of anger. This is making the labelling for the offences very unfair so the defendant isn't being charged under the right offence for what he has done. With regards to mens rea, it is defined as "malice aforethought" which is a very old term defined to mean intent to kill or cause serious harm - GBH. Intent to kill is either direct "expressed malice" or oblique "implied malice". Direct intent is where it is the defendants aim or purpose. However, oblique intent is foresight that death or serious injury results as a virtually certain consequence of the defendants actions which is very similar to recklessness and therefore causes a lot of confusion. ...read more.


This should solve some problems as with cases like Ahluwalia where she couldn't plead provocation but however, would be able to plead loss of control. Also, the reasonable man has been changed to the objective test. There is also a proposal which splits murder into 2 sections, first degree murder and second degree murder. First degree murder would have a mandatory life penalty and would apply to people who kill intentionally or killing where there was an intention to do serious injury coupled with an awareness of a serious risk causing death. However, the last bit "coupled with an awareness of a serious risk causing death" is very similar to oblique intent and the GBH rule. The second degree would have a discretionary life maximum penalty and would apply to people who were killing where the offender intended to cause serious injury - which is identical to the GBH rule, killing where the offender intended to cause some injury or fear risk of injury and was aware of a serious risk of death - which is similar to manslaughter and oblique intent or killing in which there is a partial defence to what would otherwise be first degree murder. With this voluntary manslaughter disappears in favour of second degree murder. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

An okay essay but there are notable omissions - the mandatory life sentence (see: the HoL Select Committee Murder and Life Imprisonment Report) for example.

3 stars.

Marked by teacher Edward Smith 05/07/2013

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

    Rules of Causation Case. Jess throws paint in Sams eyes. Sam had to go ...

    5 star(s)

    A week later, after the wound had healed, he was given the wrong injection and died. Held medical treatment was palpably wrong, this broke the chain of causation. This relates to the scenario as Sam received good medical treatment, which means the chain of causation was not broken by the act of a third party.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    English law does not normally impose liability for an omission or failure to act ...

    4 star(s)

    be, causing injury, contrary to s.3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. A third example of this is R v Lowe 1973, The D a man of low intelligence, was alleged to have neglected his baby daughter by failing to summon medical assistance when she became ill.

  1. Marked by a teacher

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

    4 star(s)

    the defendant to apply force or cause the victim to "believe that any such force or impact is imminent", and to do so intentionally or recklessly; this effectively merges the existing offences. However, Clause 4(2) explicitly states that no offence is committed where the force applied is "generally acceptable in

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Law should encourage citizens in their civic duty to do 'the right thing' in ...

    3 star(s)

    Instead of attempting to put the fire out he went to sleep in another room and the whole house caught fire soon after. It was not the accidental fire he caused that made him guilty of arson it was the fact he failed to take reasonable steps to deal with the fire.

  1. Human Trafficking In Australia. This essay will be covering different aspect of human ...

    This law was a massive step forward in the movement to rule out slavery and Human Trafficking. "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms." The next year the "Convention for the suppression of the Traffic in

  2. intoxication as a defence

    If a defendant becomes intoxicated through prescription medicine, a defence of intoxication can be used. However, if the defendant was aware that the medicine would cause them to act aggressively, unpredictably or uncontrollably then they can be considered reckless and therefore guilty.

  1. Problems with the Law on Theft

    As a result these cases have meant the realms of the law on appropriation have had to be unnecessarily widened and complicated to allow for such discrepancies. The meaning of property has also created some unfavourable rulings, particularly in the case of Oxford v Moss.

  2. Explain the meaning of Actus reus and mens rea

    Woollin is when the defendant did not want the particular outcome but the jury believe he was virtually certain that it would occur. For example, the jury would have needed to decide whether Woollin wanted to kill or cause GBH to his son or whether he was virtually certain that

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