In the following article, we provide expert information on these crimes and how they are punished, and we point you in the right direction if you’re looking for help from the leading assault, manslaughter, and murder solicitors in London.
Any crime involving violence is likely to have a serious impact on your personal and professional life. In addition to losing your job or business, you could face losing your family and friends. The impacts of even just being charged for these crimes can be the same, as many fear association with those that are charged with violent acts like assault, manslaughter, and murder.
In these instances, getting expert advice from the right solicitor – whether an assault solicitor, a manslaughter solicitor, a murder solicitor, or a combination of all three areas of expertise – is critical.
As the reality of your situation begins to set in, you need to plan for the consequences of being charged with such crimes. Do you have to let your boss know what happened? What will your friends say? Will your children be able to cope with the news? All of these questions are important, and they are likely to be filling your head while you try also to plan your defence.
For this reason alone, having a solicitor specialising in assault, manslaughter, or murder charges is an incredible relief. While you manage the consequences in your personal and professional life, your solicitor can handle all the legal aspects of the situation and advise you on how best to handle the fall out. Getting the right help needs to be your priority if you are charged with one of these crimes.
Have you been arrested or charged with an assault, manslaughter, or murder offence?
If you, your friend, your family member, or someone else you care about has been charged with assault, manslaughter, or murder, you are likely to be extremely anxious about the potential outcomes of any trial.
With far-reaching impacts, what is key is finding the right legal team to support you, which means getting an assault, manslaughter, or murder solicitor that not only has the right qualifications, but that has extensive experience and a track record of successfully defending cases like yours.
To find out how Stuart Miller Solicitors could help you, arrange a free consultation to talk through your options today.
What should I do if I am arrested or charged with an assault, manslaughter, or murder offence?
It is usually in your best interests to co-operate with the police whenever you have to deal with them, but in cases where the consequences of being arrested for a particular crime are so grave (like with assault, manslaughter, and murder charges), exercising your legal right to remain silent may be your best course of action (at least in the beginning).
If you are arrested or charged with assault, manslaughter, or murder, and asked to attend the station for questioning, try to remain as calm as possible and – while remaining silent – comply with any other requests the police may have (like being transported in their car, waiting in a cell for questioning, etc.).
Once you are at the station, you will have a chance to arrange for legal representation and a consultation with your lawyer so that you can figure out what you are going to say, and which questions you should or should not answer.
For assault charges that are not particularly serious (for example, a play fight among friends that got out of hand resulting in minor injuries), the police may not take you to the station and they may not require you to stay there. Even if this is the case, you should still ensure you have legal representation available if the matter is pursued so you don’t say anything that could land you in more trouble.
What type of actions are considered an assault, manslaughter, or murder offence?
Most people are, of course, familiar with these crimes because of the (unfortunate) frequency with which we hear about them taking place.
Shooting someone point blank intending to kill them would, of course, be charged as murder (assuming you were in an otherwise fit mental state). Likewise, intentionally getting drunk and carelessly driving home through busy pedestrian areas, resulting in someone getting hit by the car and dying, may well be charged as manslaughter, even if you did not intend to hit the victim with your car. And punching someone in the chest during a bar fight, resulting in them breaking a rib, is likely to be charged as assault.
That said, it is not always obvious whether a certain action or inaction can lead to an assault, manslaughter, or murder charge. Examples of less obvious cases include:
- Getting excessively angry during a boxing match and illegally striking the opponent, resulting in a fatal head injury, could be charged as murder or manslaughter, even if it did take place in the context of a rough and violent sport.
- Accidentally hitting someone with a baseball bat while you were practising your swing, resulting in bruising to their arm, could be charged as assault if you were reckless as to whether someone might get hurt.
What happens during an assault, manslaughter, or murder investigation?
With crimes as serious as assault, manslaughter, or murder, the police are likely to ‘invade’ every part of your life (or at least it will feel that way). Everything from your home, your car, your mobile phone, your laptop, and even your workplace, is open to police searches (assuming they get the appropriate warrants, which are not difficult to obtain in cases as serious as assault, manslaughter, or murder).
Although no-one likes to have their lives disrupted in this way, it is in your best interests to co-operate with the police’s activities as far as advised by your solicitor. This is because your co-operation (or lack thereof) can – and often is – used as evidence in any trials that may result (because it shows what kind of character you have).
Whatever happens, remember to stay as calm as possible and to consult your solicitor at any point when you are unsure about how to proceed.
Can the police search my home for an assault, manslaughter, or murder offence?
Because of the serious nature of assault, manslaughter, or murder charges, it is highly likely that the police will search your home if they believe that you may be concealing evidence there.
If, for example, the police get a report from your neighbour that you are acting suspiciously in your garden, the police might suspect you are hiding the offensive weapon used to commit the crime there. In this case, they are likely to search that area extensively, which may indeed involve digging up flower beds, the lawn, and dismantling or destroying any other structures (sheds, storage boxes, and so on) where you might have hidden it.
The same goes for areas inside your home. Unfortunately, nowhere is off limits to the police if they have reason to believe they need to search the area. This could even mean that your children’s rooms are searched and other shared spaces of the home are subject to the same level of investigation.
This is especially the case if you are suspected of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault or conspiracy to commit murder, as other people will necessarily be involved in those crimes.
Could I go to prison for assault, manslaughter, or murder offences?
Plainly, you can indeed be sent to prison for assault, manslaughter, and murder offences.
This is the case, too, if your particular involvement in the crime was relatively minor and others did the more serious actions (for example, if you were the getaway driver but someone else did the actual killing of the person).
While there are some circumstances in which it will be deemed inappropriate for someone to go to prison for these offences (as with others), those cases are very rare and usually relate to the person being very old, sick, or otherwise mentally unfit to be housed in a prison. In these instances, alternative arrangements (like being hospitalised in a mental health treatment facility) may be the appropriate consequence ordered by the court.
What is the typical sentence for assault, manslaughter, or murder offences?
The range of actions involved in assault, manslaughter, or murder offences is very wide, and accordingly the range of punishments that might be applicable are so too. For assault charges, for example, it is often the case that charges are dropped before any trial begins.
If you are charged with assault and tried for the specific offence of common assault, you could face a maximum of six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine. If the assault is particularly serious and is categorised as grievous bodily harm (GBH) or actual bodily harm (ABH), the sentence would be much harsher. GBH sentencing is typically between 3 and 16 years but can be up to life imprisonment if you committed the offence with intent. For ABH sentencing, the maximum is up to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
Sentencing for manslaughter is typically between 2 and 10 years but may be up to life imprisonment in the most serious of cases.
Sentencing for murder is a life sentence. This is because it is one of the most serious crimes – if not the most serious – punished under the criminal law of England and Wales. That said, there are possibilities for early release, as with other crimes, under strict parole board conditions.
What defences can be used for assault, manslaughter, or murder offences?
Criminal defences exist to account for situations that may diminish – partially or completely – the criminal blameworthiness of someone charged with a crime. In other words, if you are able to raise a defence successfully in court, you will either be acquitted completely, or you will face a lesser punishment if you are ultimately found guilty.
Special defences exist for each of the separate crimes of assault, manslaughter, and murder. In general, however, if any of the following apply, you will face acquittal or a reduction in your sentence:
- Self-defence: The criminal law of England and Wales recognises that there are occasions where people need to be able to use violence (which may come across like assault, manslaughter, or murder) to defend themselves lawfully against the threat or actual violence of another person. If you raise a defence of self-defence, it means you argue that you were lawfully permitted to use force that was reasonably necessary to defend yourself in that situation, or to defend another person, property, to prevent crime, or to conduct a lawful arrest. The extent to which you can rely on self-defence for actions resulting in murder is highly fact dependant and hotly contested in court, so you should always consult a solicitor for advice on the circumstances of your case.
- Insanity: If you lacked the ability to reason such that you did not know that the act that you were doing was against the law (due mental illness), you may be acquitted on the grounds of insanity. If this defence is successful, you may be detained under the Mental Health Act of 1983 because it will be assumed your mental condition poses a risk to society.
- Mistake: If you were mistaken as to certain circumstances pertaining to the events leading up to the crime and would not have committed the offence if you had known otherwise, this defence may apply. Note, however, that it is difficult to succeed in arguing this for murder cases.
- Automatism: If you were not aware of your actions when committing the offence, you may be able to rely upon the defence of automatism. For example, if you were sleep-walking and committed a crime (as happens more often than you might think), you can be acquitted on the basis that you had no intention to commit the crime. If you were under the voluntary influence of alcohol or drugs you will not be able to rely on this defence.
Read more about the special defences to murder.
What mitigating factors may be considered for an assault, manslaughter, or murder offence?
Courts make efforts to reflect the ‘reality’ of life’s pressures by allowing defendants to submit mitigating factors for consideration. If these are argued successfully, it means the sentence the judge imposes will not be as harsh as if there were no mitigating factors at play.
Some mitigating factors include:
- You admitting to having drug and/or alcohol problems that caused your behaviour, and taking steps (for example, getting treatment) to prevent that behaviour again.
- Having someone present positive character references in court.
- Taking steps to make amends with the victim or their family, if possible.
- This being your first offence.
- Showing genuine remorse for what happened.
Will a conviction for assault, manslaughter, or murder go on my record?
Most definitely. Keeping a record of assault, manslaughter, or murder convictions is imperative for public safety, so the offences will show up on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check if requested by an employer or other individual that needs information on your criminal background.
For safety reasons (and for use in any potential future cases), the police will keep a record of the conviction on the Police National Computer (PNC), which can be accessed by various law enforcement and government authorities.
What are examples of assault, manslaughter, or murder offences?
There are many examples of assault, manslaughter, or murder offences, and the range of actions and inactions that fall into these categories is extremely wide. That said, some common examples of these offences include:
- If someone dies because you stabbed them with a knife intending that they die from the injury, you could be charged with murder.
- If you were speeding and hit a pedestrian in the road, but did not intend to hurt them, you could be charged with manslaughter.
- If you push someone in a bar fight and they fall and hit their head, resulting in their death, you could also be charged with manslaughter.
- If you throw a glass at someone, cutting their face seriously, you could be charged with assault (or even grievous bodily harm, if the injury was bad enough and the circumstances suggest you were trying to cause really serious harm to the victim).
How can Stuart Miller Solicitors help?
Being charged with a crime involving assault, manslaughter, or murder is highly stressful, and you need someone to guide you through the complexities of the process.
By engaging the team at Stuart Miller Solicitors, you will have access to experienced criminal defence experts who have successfully defended countless assault, manslaughter, or murder cases, often resulting in acquittal for those accused.
To find out how we can best assist you, please get in touch for a consultation.
Why choose Stuart Miller Solicitors?
The experts at Stuart Miller Solicitors are among the best assault, manslaughter, and murder solicitors in London. Our decades worth of experience in these areas has paid off for numerous defendants who found themselves facing these charges. Some of our best successes in this area include:
What will happen when I instruct assault, manslaughter, or murder solicitors?
Each case is different, so what is key early on is to get an expert legal opinion on the specifics of your case. Even the smallest of details could make a huge difference to your defence strategy, so to find out how best to proceed and what exactly will happen next, instruct Stuart Miller Solicitors by arranging a free no obligation consultation today.
Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?
If you are unsure of what to do next or you would like to speak to someone before committing to working with us, get in touch and we can arrange a no pressure conversation with a member of our team. If you’re not quite ready to speak to someone but you need advice on what to do right now, you can even send us a message on WhatsApp to get started.