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Legal > Criminal Law & Criminal Offences


Overview FAQs Articles Locations

Murder is a very serious criminal offence and is defined as an act, or an omission which, causes death.  Murder requires that the act or omission was done with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person. It may be done individually or with an accomplice. If it is performed without this intent, then the offence is reduced to manslaughter. If the offence was not malicious, due to accident or if the accused has lawful cause or excuse, it shall not constitute murder. Having proper legal advice from an experienced Criminal lawyer is a necessity, should you be implicated in a murder.

In broad terms, Murder is committed  where the accused does an act causing death with a reckless indifference to human life, an intention to kill or do grievous bodily harm. The necessary mental state must exist at the time of the act or acts of the accused that caused the death of the victim. The act can be part of a single transaction and it does not matter that the necessary intention was not present when every act was committed. For instance, there may have been intention to kill at the time the offence was planned but not at the time of execution of the act; however that may be sufficient to constitute mens rea. Comprehensive and sound advice from a Criminal Lawyer can be greatly beneficial in explaining the law surrounding murder.

At common law, a person who does an act foreseeing that it is probable (as distinct from possible) that death will result from that act is guilty of murder where death results. It is not sufficient, that only grievous bodily harm is foreseen by the accused as a probable consequence of his or her conduct. For instance, if there was only intention to severely injure an individual but death occurs, then this is insufficient to prove the presence of all the necessary elements of murder. Where there is an intention to kill some person, it does not matter that some other person is killed other than the person intended. For instance if a person drives recklessly and aggressively intending to kill a certain individual but instead kills another individual, then murder would still have been committed. The fact that death or injury occurred in a way unintended or unexpected by the accused is irrelevant except as to the question of causation. It is unnecessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused intended to cause the death or the injury in a particular way. For instance, if there are two brawling individuals and one intends to fatally injure the other individual, but instead throws him off a balcony to his death then this would still constitute murder. Proper legal advice from an experienced Criminal Lawyer may be advantageous if you are affected by a murder case.

Murder is an indictable offence and carries currently a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment; thus, there will be a jury present in criminal proceedings. The jury will need to consider the evidence to make a judgment on the facts of the case, including as to whether there was intention and causation.  It is for the jury to determine what act or acts were done by the accused and whether they or any of them caused death, so that the question of whether a reflex or automatic motor action is a voluntary or unwilled act is a question for the jury. On the matter of causation, a person can cause the death of another where that person does an act which substantially contributes to the death of the deceased and that person may be guilty of murder notwithstanding that the immediate cause of death is the act of another person or even the deceased's own act. For instance, this may be the situation where a person intoxicates another individual and whilst they are in a state of intoxication walk into incoming traffic and die.  Having proper legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer may be of great utility in this aspect.

If you would like further information or wish to discuss your criminal matter with an experienced Criminal Lawyer in Sydney, please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone on (02) 9233 4048 or by email to Please peruse our Locations tab to see our other branch locations. 

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This webpage (and any material or wording appearing on this webpage) is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute any Legal Advice. It does not take into account your objectives, your instructions or all of the relevant facts and/or circumstances. Navado accepts no responsibility to any person who relies on the information provided on this website. We further refer you to our Disclaimer.

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If you require assistance with a Criminal matter, you should make an appointment to see one of our Lawyers in one of the following locations:

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