Murder is a severe crime in Australia. It can get the offender imprisoned for life. However, this penalty may be reduced to a fixed term with a non-parole period if the judge deems fit. When a woman intentionally shoots and kills a driver, the offence will be considered murder.
Conversely, if the woman shoots at a driver and unintentionally causes death, it can be considered manslaughter. Manslaughter is also a grave offence. To have a fighting chance in court, anyone charged with these crimes will need the help of the best criminal lawyers in Melbourne. top10lawyers.com.au can help you find the right lawyers to help your case.
Difference Between Manslaughter And Murder
Murder is considered to be the voluntary act of killing another person. The offender should have intended to cause the victim’s death or fatally injured them. Manslaughter, on the other hand, is an unintentional, accidental, and dangerous act that leads to another person’s death. It is also called involuntary manslaughter because the individual would not have intended to kill the victim. However, when manslaughter has all the elements of a murder(the cause of the act is a provocation), it is referred to as voluntary manslaughter.
What Is A Felony Murder
Felony murder is also called constructive murder. It occurs if a person commits a criminal offence and someone else dies in the course of it. It carries at least 25 years imprisonment. An example is when a woman attempts carjacking, and the driver dies during the process.
What Should The Police Prove In Court For The Accused To Be Punished
Australia considers four types of murders: capital murder, murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Each of these has its own elements. The police must prove each of these elements for the accused to be declared guilty. In the case of the woman in question, the elements that need to be proved include:
- If the woman intended to seriously injure or permanently disfigure the driver.
- If she intended to kill the driver.
- Had she already realized the probability that her actions could lead to the driver’s death and shot at them anyway?
- The woman was trying to commit another punishable crime with a maximum of up to 25 years imprisonment but ended up killing the driver instead.
Each of the above four points is considered to be a different type of murder in Australia. If the police cannot provide enough proof for each of the elements, the woman may discuss and negotiate with the prosecution during the early stages of the trial and get the charge to be “no billed” and dismissed.
When Will A Convicted Person Get Life Imprisonment For Murder?
Section 61 of the Crimes Act 1999 gives judges the right to give a life imprisonment punishment for murder. While the maximum penalty for murder is life imprisonment, a life sentence can be given only if:
- The accused woman is found guilty of the murder.
- The prosecution can prove beyond doubt that the level of criminality in the murder was so high that only life imprisonment would be the right punishment.
If a judge decides against life imprisonment for the murder charge, the sentence will be for a non-parole period, followed by a parole period. The judge will determine the duration of both these periods based on various factors, including the prospect of rehabilitating the accused. Usually, the parole period is greater than the non-parole period.
What Are The Possible Defences Against A Murder Charge?
There are various defences to a murder charge. Some of them are:
- The woman acted in self-defence or tried to defend someone else, and in the process, shot at the driver.
- The shooting was not a substantial cause of death.
- The woman did not realize that shooting the driver would cause their death.
- The woman suffered a mental illness recognized by the law that led to her losing control and shooting at the driver.
- The woman involuntarily consumed and was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, becoming incapable of determining right from wrong.
- The alleged shooting was involuntary due to certain medications that the woman was taking at the time.
If the woman allegedly shot at the driver, but they did not die, it would be considered attempted murder. Attempted murder in Australia carries a penalty of up to 25 years imprisonment. This charge encompasses various types of offences that may also include a 10-years non-parole period. Types of attempted murder include badly injuring a person, attempting to poison a person, setting fire to any property with people in it, drowning or suffocating a person, and shooting or strangling a person.
Voluntary And Involuntary Manslaughter
In some cases, if a woman allegedly shoots at a driver, it may be considered manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter occurs if the accused kills another person but is deemed to have been provoked by the victim. Involuntary manslaughter occurs if unlawful and dangerous actions or criminal negligence led to another person’s death.
Defences A Woman Has To A Manslaughter Charge
Here are some of the defences a woman may have to a manslaughter charge:
- She acted in self-defence because she thought that her actions were reasonable in that situation
- The woman’s alleged behaviour did not cause the death. In fact, it was caused by someone or something else.
- Mental Illness: This is also called the McNaughton defence, where the woman, at the time of the crime, suffered a mental illness, leading to her having no control over her behaviour or not being able to choose right from wrong.
- The woman was drugged, leading to her committing manslaughter without realizing it.
- She was under medications or some other external force like sleepwalking or an epileptic fit.
Whether a woman who has allegedly shot a driver gets charged with murder or manslaughter will depend on various factors. It is important to get the help of a lawyer so that they can guide you throughout the case.