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Manslaughter in Australia

Manslaughter is homicide or the killing of a human being by another person. Unlike premeditated murder, manslaughter is not a planned crime and includes some condition or circumstance that makes the crime less culpable than murder.

In Australia, the offense of manslaughter is categorized as either voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter does not include any malice or intent to kill, although the conduct is unlawful. There is constructive manslaughter and criminally negligent manslaughter.

Constructive manslaughter: An unreasonable or unlawful conduct or a dangerous act that exposed another person to a high risk of serious injury or death. It is not an accidental act but must have been intended.

Elements of this offense include the existence of a duty of care to the victim, a breach of that duty which causes or substantially causes death, and which conduct or breach is gross negligence but not a criminal act. The duty of care need not be a statutory one and could include any activity engaged in between two people.

Criminally negligent manslaughter: A more serious offense that involves some degree of malice, criminally negligent conduct, or criminal activity.

It exposes the person to a high risk of very serious injury by an act or omission. It is the standard of care that falls far short of what a reasonable person would exercise under the circumstances.

Voluntary Manslaughter

If the killing of a human being satisfies the elements of murder, such as intent to kill, but there are certain mitigating circumstances such as diminished responsibility or provocation, then the offense might be considered voluntary manslaughter.

Mitigating circumstances might include excessive self-defense, intoxication, or a mental defect or abnormality that reduces the person’s culpability.

Penalties

Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 25-years imprisonment and is always an indictable offense. You could face only community service and a suspended prison sentence, home detention, or prison if the offense is involuntary manslaughter. You are more likely to face prison (gaol) for a voluntary manslaughter offense. The average incarceration time for a first-time offender is 6-years.

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