Notes on the law on murder

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There are three types of unlawful homicide: murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The degree of seriousness applied to each offence is essentially a reflection of the defendant’s state of mind. With regard to the killing – murder is the most serious category of unlawful homicide.

Definition: “Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being under Queen’s peace with malice aforethought”. 

Actus Reus of Murder (Pagett, Jordan, Smith and Blaue)

The actus reus of murder simply consists of the unlawful killing of a human being under Queen’s peace. It can be broken down into three main elements:

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The unlawful killing – the killing must be unlawful.

The victim must be a human being – normally, this will be self evident but it is murder to kill a foetus (unborn baby) because it is fully independent of its mother.

Queen’s peace – any killing within England and Wales by any person.

When discussing actus reus of murder, it is vital to discuss causation along with the think skull rule, and apply it back to the case.  

Causation is establishing a direct link between the defendant’s conduct and the consequences. The prosecution must prove that defendant’s act ...

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