Galbally Parker handled a complex and unusual case for me involving very serious charges of which I was guilty of. They were able to get me the best possible outcome, resulting in no conviction and no criminal record, while also supporting me emotionally and keeping me fully informed throughout the whole process.
Manslaughter charges are among the most serious legal matters one can face, and they carry severe consequences that can impact your life in profound ways. With our expertise in criminal law and a proven track record of successful defence strategies, our team of manslaughters are here to guide you through this challenging process through providing expert legal counsel and fighting to secure the best possible outcome for your case. When your freedom and future are at stake, trust our skilled manslaughter lawyers to vigorously defend your rights.
Why Choose Galbally Parker Manslaughter Lawyers
Galbally Parker Lawyers distinguishes itself among other criminal defence firms in Melbourne in several ways:
- Criminal Defence Expertise: At Galbally Parker, we work exclusively in the criminal defence space and regularly appear in court to represent clients facing a range of criminal defence charges, including manslaughter.
- Tailored Client Care: As a boutique firm, we operate with unwavering commitment to client service and ensure we provide dedicated, personalised attention to each individual client.
- Honest Advice: For clients facing manslaughter charges, our lawyers offer a commitment-free, fixed-price 60-minute initial consultation. In this session, our manslaughter lawyers delve into the specifics of your case, outline our fee structure, and assist you in formulating a strategic plan. We take pride in offering honest and supportive guidance, and aim for every client to leave with clarity and confidence.
Choose Galbally Parker Lawyers for a legal team that combines expertise, personalised service, technological innovation, and resolute advocacy to safeguard your rights.
Unintentional killing in the course or furtherance of a crime of violence
Pursuant to section 3A of the Crimes Act, it is a separate offence to unintentionally kill another in the course of a crime. This used to be referred to as the ‘felony murder’ rule. If in the course of committing a crime of violence punishable by at least 10 years imprisonment (which includes crimes such as assault with a weapon and armed robbery) a person unintentionally kills another, this is deemed to be a murder. The law will deem the acts causing the death as being an intentional killing, punishable by the same sentence as a murder, which has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Manslaughter – unlawful & dangerous act
- the accused committed an act that caused the death of another person;
- the relevant act was committed consciously, voluntarily and deliberately;
- the relevant act was “unlawful”;
- the relevant act was “dangerous”.
Manslaughter is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment or to a fine in addition to or without any such other order.
Whether an act is unlawful is assessed according to an objective standard. A Jury must decide whether a reasonable person in the position of the accused would have understood that he or she was exposing the alleged victim to an appreciable risk of serious injury. Often a homicide defence can be raised that the accused would not have had that understanding and, therefore, should be acquitted.
Manslaughter can cover a range of unfortunate circumstances. For example, if a person travelling in a car decides (as a prank) to push another person from that car and that persons falls underneath that car and dies, the prankster could be guilty of manslaughter. The unlawful act was assault, i.e. the pushing of the person from the car. A reasonable person would appreciate that they were exposing the deceased to a risk of serious injury by pushing them from the car. In addition, the Victorian Parliament has introduced specific manslaughter-type offences for unintentional killings in the course or furtherance of a crime and, single punch killings.
Manslaughter – single punch
In recent years, with the increase of ‘single punch’ killings and serious injuries, the Victorian Parliament has responded by introducing a provision which specifies that a single punch, delivered to the head or neck which by itself causes injury, is to be taken as a dangerous act for the purposes of a manslaughter charge. The provision (section 4A of the Crimes Act) specifically includes an example of where this charge will apply, as follows:
If a person punches another person to the head, and that other person falls, hits their head on the road, and dies from the injury resulting from their head hitting the road, the punch may be the cause of their death. However, homicide defences such as self defence are still available and should be explored.
Workplace (Industrial) Manslaughter
On 1 July 2020, the Working Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Act 2019 came into force in Victoria. As part of this legislation, amendments were made to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHSA) which introduced the new criminal offence of workplace (or ‘industrial’) manslaughter.
This offence was introduced to bring Victoria in line with other jurisdictions who have enacted similar legislation. The offence of workplace manslaughter is a criminal offence, with both individuals or bodies corporate capable of being charged.
Nature of Workplace Manslaughter
Workplace Manslaughter is a species of homicide that shares similarities to common law manslaughter, but is a distinct offence and has unique elements that the prosecution must prove. The offence itself can be found in section 39G(1) and (2) of the OHSA. In order to be found guilty of workplace manslaughter, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The accused person is not a volunteer;
- That person has engaged in conduct that is negligent;
- That the negligent conduct constitutes a breach of an applicable duty that the person owes to another person; and
- That the negligent conduct caused the death of that other person.
Section 39G(2) also contains the same test but is applicable to officers of an ‘applicable entity.’ The drafters of the legislation have included definitions for a number of terms used. These include:
Conduct includes an act, but also an omission.
Breach of applicable duty
Conduct may amount to a breach of a duty even though any other conduct also contributed to the breach and whether or not proceedings have been instituted in relation to the other breach.
A persons conduct is negligent if it involves a great falling short of the standard of care that would have been taken by a reasonable person in the circumstances in which the conduct was engaged in AND it involves a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness.
This is a slightly different test to the test for negligence in common law manslaughter. Common law manslaughter requires that an accused’s act or omission must have fallen so far below the standard of care a reasonable person would have exercised, and to have involved such a high risk of death or really serious injury, that the act or omission merits criminal punishment. It is noted that the phrase ‘merits criminal punishment’ and the ‘really’ in serious injury has been omitted and that the phrase ‘serious illness’ has been added. Furthermore, the wording has been altered from ‘so far below’ to ‘great falling short.’
There may be many arguable ways to demonstrate that particular conduct does not amount to ‘negligent’ conduct as per the act. For example, an accused person might have engaged in conduct that was a ‘great falling short of the standard of care,’ however, it may be arguable that the risk of death or serious injury thus created was only small, or moderate. Anything less than a ‘high’ risk would require the accused person to be acquitted. There are separate provisions addressing negligent conduct on behalf of bodies corporate.
Duties owed to another person
A person may owe another person an ‘applicable duty’ if the act imposes a duty on a person and it is either explicit, or implicit, that the duty is owed to another person
For example, the OHSA prescribes a number of duties on particular people. These include duties of employers to employees and other persons, duties of self-employed persons, duties of designers and manufacturers. A duty may be explicitly owed if the person owed the person to whom the duty is owed falls into a ‘class’ of persons specified in the legislation and the duty relates directly to the health and safety of that person. However, it may also be implicitly owed if the purpose of the provision is to ensure the health and safety of persons of a particular class.
If found guilty of workplace manslaughter, penalties can be severe. This includes a maximum of 20 years imprisonment for individuals and up to 100,000 penalty units for bodies corporate. Prosecutions for workplace manslaughter should be taken extremely seriously and all homicide defences explored before moving forward.
There is no statute of limitations applicable to workplace manslaughter. A prosecution can be brought at any time. Workplace manslaughter has also been added to the few criminal offences where a prosecution can be reopened after an acquittal on application by a prosecutor to the Court of Appeal. Workplace manslaughter is also a DNA forensic sample offence, so a Court can order the retention of a DNA sample of a person found guilty of workplace manslaughter if it is in the interests of justice to do so.
How Galbally Parker Manslaughter Lawyers can Help
Galbally Parker Manslaughter Lawyers are your trusted advocates when facing the daunting legal complexities of a manslaughter charge. Our experienced team of manslaughter lawyers have a deep understanding of the intricacies surrounding these cases. We are dedicated to providing you with expert guidance and unwavering support throughout the legal process, from conducting meticulous investigations and building robust defence strategies to representing your interests in court. We are committed to securing the best possible outcome for your case.
If you are facing manslaughter charges, you can trust Galbally Parker to provide guidance, support, and advocacy throughout the legal process. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.