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What Is The Sentence For Attempted Murder?

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 Attempted murder is a serious criminal offence. As a consequence, the potential sentences for attempted murder can be correspondingly severe.

If you are facing a charge for attempted murder, we understand how daunting this is likely to be. We also know how important it is for you to have a clear understanding of what the prison sentence for attempted murder might be and what can be done to avoid or mitigate this.

Here, we discuss what the sentences for attempted murder are, including both the maximum and minimum sentences.

While we hope this information is useful, please note, it should not be taken as legal advice. If you need legal support with allegations of attempted murder, then please get in touch and our team can advise you.

What is classed as attempted murder?

Attempted murder is committed when someone commits an act which is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence of murder and did so with the intention of killing someone. The offence is committed when someone commits one or more such acts which demonstrate that they had an intention to kill someone, but this attempt failed for any reason.

What factors affect the sentence for attempted murder?

When dealing with sentencing for attempted murder, the prosecution will weigh up two key issues, these being the culpability of the offender and the harm caused.

Culpability is divided into four sections:

    • A – Very high culpability
      • Abduction of the victim with intent to murder
      • Attempted murder of a child
      • Offence motivated by or involves sexual or sadistic conduct
      • Offence involves the use of a firearm or explosive or fire
      • Offence committed for financial gain
      • Attempted murder of a police officer or prison officer in the course of their duty
      • Offence committed for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause
      • Offence intended to obstruct or interfere with the course of justice
      • Offence motivated by racial or religious hostility or hostility related to victim’s sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity
    • B – High culpability
      • Offender took a knife or other weapon to the scene intending to commit any offence or have it available to use as a weapon and used that knife or other weapon in committing the offence.
      • Planning or premeditation of murder
    • C – Medium culpability
      • Use of weapon not in category A or B
      • Lack of premeditation/spontaneous attempt to kill 
    • D – Lesser culpability
      • Excessive self defence
      • Offender acted in response to prolonged or extreme violence or abuse by victim
      • Offender’s responsibility substantially reduced by mental disorder or learning disability
      • Genuine belief by the offender that the offence was an act of mercy

    Harm is divided into 3 sections:

    • Category 1
      • Injury results in physical or psychological harm resulting in lifelong dependency on third party care or medical treatment
      • Offence results in a permanent, irreversible injury or psychological condition which has a substantial and long-term effect on the victim’s ability to carry out their normal day to day activities or on their ability to work
    • Category 2
      • Serious physical or psychological harm not in category 1
    • Category 3
      • All other cases

    As you may expect, the higher the culpability and harm, the more serious the sentence is likely to be for attempted murder.

    Additional aggravating and mitigating factors will also be taken into consideration which could increase or decrease the sentence handed out, depending on the circumstances.

    What is the minimum sentence for attempted murder?

    The minimum sentence for attempted murder would be 3 years’ custody. This would be where the prosecution believes that culpability and harm fall into the least serious categories.

    What is the maximum sentence for attempted murder?

    The maximum sentence for attempted murder is life imprisonment. This is in cases where culpability and harm are deemed to the most serious.

    What is the average sentence for attempted murder?

    It is hard to determine what the ‘average’ sentence would be for attempted murder as there are so many variables and factors that need to be taken into consideration. An average would also be hard to determine as the sentencing range is so widespread.

    Credit for guilty plea

    In short, where a guilty plea is indicated at the first stage of proceedings (in the Magistrates’ court), you could receive a reduction from one-third of the sentence for attempted murder.

    If the plea is tendered on the first occasion in the Crown court, a discount of 25% can be expected and this reduces incrementally over time to 10% if the plea is tendered on the first day of the trial.

    More information regarding the potential outcomes for indicating a guilty plea can be found here.

    What can I do if I’m accused of attempted murder?

    If you are facing a charge of attempted murder, it is vital that you have specialist legal advice and representation on your side. At JD Spicer Zeb, our criminal defence solicitors have substantial experience in handling cases involving allegations of attempted murder. As such, we understand what is required to build the strongest possible defence and to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome.

    We are highly skilled in dealing with the various types of evidence relied on for these types of serious criminal cases, including forensics such as fingerprint and DNA analysis, digital evidence such as mobile phone records and text messages, and witness testimony. This means that we can work effectively to identify any potential flaws in the case against you and make sure any evidence needed to support your defence is brought to light.

    We have over 45 years of experience in handling criminal law matters and have been recognised through a Law Society accreditation in Criminal Litigation. We have a strong track record of success, and, throughout the years, we have been able to establish close relationships with a number of the country’s leading criminal defence barristers.

    If you are facing a charge of attempted murder, we are here to provide you with the support you need.

    Related matters:

    We also provide support and guidance on various other matters that are related to attempted murder, including:

    Our related cases

    Fees and funding

    We are always transparent when it comes to our legal fees.

    If you need to attend court in relation to a charge for attempted murder, legal aid public funding may become available. This depends on whether the case justifies the grant of public funding.

    Where you do not qualify for legal aid public funding, the alternative option is to fund the case on a private basis.

    To find out more about the way we handle fees (both legal aid public funding and private fees) for attempted murder, please use the links provide below:

    Contact our criminal defence lawyers today

    If you are due to attend the police station, require any urgent specialist advice, or immediate representation after being charged with attempted murder, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    You can contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:

    Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

    Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you quickly.

    24/7 legal representation for attempted murder charges

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    Common questions

    We always work with the most experienced and best leading UK barristers, KCs (Kings Counsel). We cover all criminal cases 24/7 at the police station and court. Offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester cover cases across England and Wales. We can offer Legal Aid and affordable Private fee agreements. We can see you the same day, including virtually. Our Senior Partners supervise all of our cases.

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    We respond quickly even during out of hours. We do not get our work by paying for online adverts but based on the fact that few criminal law firms can match our 45 years of experience. Most of our cases are still from word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients. We are called daily by dissatisfied clients from firms with less experience than us. We respond very quickly to new enquiries. We know what clients seek and so we update clients rapidly.

    Can you get cases dropped?

    Yes, read about the recent cases we've helped our clients with here.

    We always keep you updated and give straightforward advice. We will get cases dropped early where the case is weak or should not be prosecuted. We will be upfront with you about where you can benefit from a good result with an early guilty plea, such as a discount on your sentence. As we work on cases across all levels with clients from all walks of life, we are excellent at giving clear, spot-on advice. As an established firm, we can allocate a whole team to your case often at short notice to secure evidence to minimise the damage to you. 

    Have you won any awards?


    "JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".

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    Where it is possible, we aim to provide an initial consultation to you. If we can speak to you, we can if required inform you about  –

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