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Law of Murder in England: Part Two

NCJ Number
Criminologist Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 1997 Pages: 103-108
M Spicer
Date Published
6 pages
Using actual cases, this article discusses how the British Homicide Act of 1957 has been used from its enactment to the present day.
One of the aims of the act is to implement the concept that only those whose thoughts as well as their actions showed intent to kill or cause serious harm had committed murder. Thus, since 1957, the fact that a killing may have occurred during certain violent crimes does not make the killing a murder, unless evidence shows that the killing was intended by the perpetrator. Since 1957 the requisite malice aforethought required for murder has been further diluted in the area of implied malice. For implied malice aforethought to exist, death must be an inescapable consequence of an intentionally criminal and dangerous act. Thus, today in 99 percent of murder trials in Great Britain, unless a special defense of diminished responsibility, provocation, or insanity is raised, the question posed by the trial judge to the jury is whether there is evidence that the killer intended to kill or cause serious harm to the victim. If he/she had such an intention, then under the law a murder was committed. Otherwise, manslaughter was committed. 1 reference