Murder, attempted murder and manslaughter
Among the most serious crimes in Queensland are murder, attempted murder and manslaughter.
Anyone convicted of these could be sentenced to life in prison, although the Court might make a lesser sentence in certain circumstances.
To be charged with murder (sometimes called homicide) the police need to establish that you have:
- Wilfully killed another person; and
- Had the intent to kill them or cause them grievous bodily harm.
Along with the maximum life sentence, there are certain minimum sentences for murder in Queensland:
- Murdering a police officer, if you knew they were an officer, carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison
- If you have a previous conviction of murder, or are found guilty of multiple murders, the minimum sentence is 30 years in prison.
As the name suggests, attempted murder is where you do (or fail to do) something in an attempt to unlawfully kill them.
You might also be charged with dangerous driving causing death, if you are believed to have killed (without meaning to) someone while dangerously or negligently driving a motor vehicle. This has a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
There is also a related charge of “accessory after the fact”. This is where you know that someone has committed murder and assist them despite that knowledge. Like murder itself, this has a maximum penalty of life in prison.
You might also be charged with “conspiracy” to murder (maximum penalty 14 years) or threatening someone with murder in writing (maximum penalty 7 years).
While murder requires that you intended to kill someone, manslaughter is where you have unlawfully killed a person without meaning to. Sometimes this might be because of carelessness, recklessness, or negligence.
You might also get charged with manslaughter if you had “diminished responsibility”. This is where you intentionally killed someone but had an impaired state of mind and could not control your own actions. One example of this is extreme provocation.