Under Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), manslaughter is not explicitly defined, and the section explains that it comprises all unlawful homicides, besides murder.
However, there is a distinction between two types of manslaughter defined in common law. These are manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act, and manslaughter by criminal negligence.
Manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act refers to the death of a person due to an unlawful or dangerous action by the defendant, in which the defendant must have realised that he or she was exposing the victim to a serious risk of injury or death. There is no intention to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm, but the unlawful and dangerous act must be executed intentionally for the defendant to be guilty. An example of this would be the death of a passenger in the car of the defendant, where the defendant was speeding.
Manslaughter by criminal negligence can be described as an intentional action that is so grossly negligent in its entirety that a reasonable person could easily see that the chances of death or grievous bodily harm would be almost guaranteed upon doing the act. Again, no intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm should be present. An example of this would be a nursing home worker who leaves, in a place of easy access by a resident, a dangerous chemical in an unmarked drinking glass – causing the death of a resident when they drink it.
A person found guilty of manslaughter will receive a penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
There are currently debates surrounding the use of provocation as a defence; however, at this time, it is still current under legislation.
Where, on the trial of a person for murder, it appears that the reason for the murder was provocation and the jury would have found the accused guilty of murder, the charge of murder may be acquitted and a charge for manslaughter may be used instead.
Further, provocation can be described as a loss of self-control on the part of the accused that was brought on by conduct of the deceased (including grossly insulting words or gestures) towards or affecting the accused, and that conduct of the deceased was such as could have induced an ordinary person to have lost self-control to such an extent as to have formed an intent to kill, or to inflict grievous bodily harm upon, the deceased. The conduct of the deceased may have occurred immediately before the act or omission causing death or at any previous time.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.