Voluntary manslaughter

Defendant has the mens rea of murder or the intention to kill or cause gbh, but extenuating circumstances may reduce his blameworthiness.

The term 'voluntary' manslaughter is used when evidence has been provided to show that their was an intention to kill or cause GBH,(unlike involuntary manslaughter when there is no mens rea), but it can be proved that there were extenuating circumstances to excuse the defendant's behaviour.

If it has been proved that a defendant had the necessary mens rea to cause his victim's death he may be able to use the partial defence of diminished responsibility, loss of control, formerly provocation or suicide pact. If his defence, using either of these defences, succeeds it would have the effect of reducing his liability from murder to manslaughter.


By reducing the defendant's liability from murder to manslaughter the judge will be able to exercise his discretion when sentencing the defendant but if the defendant is found guilty of murder the judge has to pass a life sentence.


Homicide; Murder and Manslaughter - Crown Prosecution Service


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