THE LAWS REGARDING HOMICIDE ARE AN UNSATISFACTORY COLLECTION OF RULES WHICH ARE UNCLEAR AND WHICH DO NOT SET APPROPRIATE LEVELS OF CULPABILITY THE LAWS REGARDING HOMICIDE The homicide law revolves around antiquated statutes that ever since the laws were enacted have seldom undergone any major or minor meaningful change…
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This paper’s aim is to point out some of the major problems and errors that is contained in the homicide law. The first section will be looking at the definition of the homicide and also some of the legislative areas that is covered under the homicide law. The second section will entirely deal with the defects and problems in the homicide law. The third area will briefly look at the legal framework of the said areas and the suggested statutory reforms that can be implemented on the homicide law in Britain. When looking at the word ‘homicide’ in this essay the terms of reference will be in reference to the relationship between the law of murder and the law relating to homicide especially on manslaughter. The definition of murder can be borrowed from classic definition of Sir Edward Coke in 1797: “Murder is when a man of a sound memory, and of the age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any country of the realm any reasonable creature in rerum natura under the King’s peace, with malice aforethought, either expressed by the party or implied by law, so as the party wounded, or hurt, etc. die of the wound or hurt, etc. within a year and a day after the same.”2 For the purposes of convenience in this paper, the definition of homicide will imply the unlawful killing of a human being by another human being. Under homicide offences, murder is the most serious of all but its reform cannot be reflected upon seclusion without the inclusion from the other homicide offences. Under Actus Reus there are four ways in which it can be implemented. 1. UNLAWFUL KILLING When the killing is unlawful there are certain defences that will make the killing lawful for example in the case of self defence. Should the jury find the killing was under self defence; then the killing will be lawful. This will only be possible if the act or omission of the defendant is thought to be legal cause of the victim’s death. Therefore the causation in such a situation must be established. 2. HUMAN BEING Should the killing occur then it must be the killing of a human being who was living. 3. QUEEN'S PEACE This means that the killing of an enemy during the course of war, under the Queen’s peace, the killing will not be classified as murder. 4. DEATH WITHIN A YEAR AND A DAY The killing ought to have been committed within the year and a day for it to be placed under homicide in particular.3 1. MALICE AFORETHOUGHT The mens rea in case of murder is usually malice aforethought. R v Moloney  AC 905 4 (a) Intention to kill When it comes to murder there is always a specific intention for this crime to be committed. The intention might vary accordingly for example in this context the intention might be direct intention or even oblique intention. The direct intention implies that the situation of the defendant desired death in the first place while under oblique intent it means that the death of the defendant was foreseen as not certain although the defendant did not desire the death. The most recent authority on intention is: R v Woollin (1998) The Times, July 23.5 (b) Intention to cause Grievous Bodily Harm (g.b.h) An intention to cause grievous bodily harm is evidenced when there is willingness for acceptance of a substantial risk that the victim in this case might actually die: R v Vickers  2 QB 664: 6 In England and Wales the law being used
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