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The present law relating to Involuntary Manslaughter serves neither the defendant nor the criminal justice system. Discuss (50 marks)

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Introduction

Transfer-Encoding: chunked ?The present law relating to involuntary MSL serves neither the defendant nor the criminal justice system? Involuntary Manslaughter (MSL) is defined as an unlawful killing where the defendant (D) has no malice aforethought express or implied (to kill or cause GBH) which is required for murder. There are 3 ways of committing involuntary MSL: Unlawful Act MSL, Gross negligence MSL and reckless MSL. For D to be liable for unlawful (unl) act MSL D must commit an unl act which is dangerous and causes the victim?s (V)?s death. D must also intend to commit the unlawful act. An unl act is defined as a criminal offence. This is illustrated in the case of Franklin 1883) where D was acquitted after throwing a box into the sea which hit and killed a swimmer, as this was held to be a civil wrong which is not enough to create liability. This was also seen in Lamb (1967) where D shot his friend who didn?t think the gun would fire; this wasn?t assault as his friend feared no violence thus wasn?t an unl act. The unl act doesn?t have to be serious as seen in Larkin (1943) where the appellant waved a cut throat razor to scare another but instead scared V who fell onto it and died; D was convicted as this was deemed to be assault. ...read more.

Middle

where D owed a duty of care to look after her sister who was a heroin addict. Lastly, D will owe a duty of care in a dangerous situation which they have created, they have a duty to prevent harm escalating any further under the Miller principle from the case of Miller (1983) where D failed to take reasonable steps and put out a fire he accidentally set. This duty must be breached negligently and in doing so cause V?s death. The same rules of causation apply. For example in Adamako (1994) D was convicted for failing to realise his patient?s breathing tube had become dislodged causing V to die. In Singh (1999) D not fixing the fire caused his tenants to die thus breaching his duty to them. Lastly, this breach must be considered ?gross? thus a criminal act. In Bateman (1925) D?s conviction was quashed after not sending V to a hospital after part of her uterus came away during childbirth and she died 5 days later as he was deemed to act as a reasonably competent doctor; to be liable he would?ve had to fall below the standard of care expected of him from his position. This was confirmed in Adamako (1994) where D not realising the breathing tube had become dislodged within 15seconds was considered abysmal thus below the standards of a competent doctor. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus the law com suggested the removal of it in their 2006 report stating that the worst offences would fall under second degree murder and the less serious would fall into the category of GNL MSL. However arguably the this leads to the issue of if being difficult to prove if D was or wasn?t aware of the risk in cases such as Lidar (2000), which could?ve easily been GNL MSL as technically he owed a duty to other road users under the Road Traffic Act 1988, therefore this reform would also fail to serve D and the CJS as there?s a huge difference between sentencing depending on whether D was able to appreciate the risk or not; therefore even if reforms took place the law on involuntary MSL still has issues. Overall, the present law on involuntary MSL serves neither D nor the CJS and is in need of urgent reform as firstly, UNL act MSL allows D to be liable even if they didn?t foresee the risk of danger from their act, GNL MSL leads to inconsistency and unfairness and reckless MSL is hard to distinguish from the others. The main issue however is that despite different levels of blameworthiness and MR over the 3 types all result in the same conviction. Therefore the law as it stands is too wide to serve D or the CJS and thus the statement is accurate. ...read more.

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