Murder & Manslaughter

Murder and manslaughter are two of the most serious criminal offences, with the potential for a sentence of up to life imprisonment on conviction. Getting legal representation from a criminal defence team with specialist experience in these types of charges is therefore essential if you find yourself charged with such an offence.

Being arrested is always likely to be confusing and scary, but when it involves such serious charges, it is normal to feel lost and alone. Our criminal defence solicitors have more than 40 years of experience with murder and manslaughter cases, so can provide immediate reassurance that your case is in safe hands.

We can be by your side through every stage of investigation and any resulting prosecution, making sure you understand the charges and evidence against you and your legal options.

We can also offer sympathetic personal support to help you get through this difficult time.

Our team is highly experienced in finding flaws in the cases against our clients, meaning we are often able to see charges dropped before they reach court, as well as having a strong track record of securing not guilty verdicts in court. Where a conviction cannot be avoided, we will always offer realistic guidance and robust representation to minimise the criminal penalties.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of murder or manslaughter, or have been charged with one of these very serious criminal offences, you can contact us 24-hours a day, seven days a week for an immediate free initial consultation, expert legal advice and representation.

Our team speak a number of languages and also work with various accredited interpreters, so we can offer clear, effective legal advice in whatever language you feel most comfortable with. To make sure you always have access to our legal expertise when you need it, we are available 24/7 to clients across England and Wales in person and by phone.

For a free initial consultation on dealing with a charge of murder or manslaughter, please contact our local offices in London, Birmingham or Manchester.

Need immediate legal support for murder or manslaughter arrest? Our accredited Police Station Representatives and solicitors are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year using the emergency numbers listed at the top of the page.

Our expertise with murder and manslaughter charges

We offer over 40 years of experience representing people accused of the most serious criminal offences, including murder and manslaughter. Our criminal defence team have a detailed understanding of how these offences work, so can make sure you defence is conducted effectively from the very first stage of proceedings.

From your first contact with police, we will be there by your side, making sure you understand the case against you and your defence options. We can also advise you before the point of police interview or arrest if you have concerns.

Our team is 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. As a result, 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.

With strong advocacy experience and working relationships with some of the UK’s leading criminal defence barristers specialising in murder and manslaughter prosecutions, we will always be able to offer you the very best representation if your case goes to trial.

What to do if you are arrested for murder or manslaughter

If you are arrested on suspicion of murder or manslaughter, remembering your legal rights can help you to avoid unintentionally saying or doing anything that could undermine your defence.

The four key points to keep in mind following an arrest are:

  1. You do not have to answer any questions asked by the police. Whether to do so or not requires a thorough understanding of your case and how the criminal justice system works. Legal advice should be taken before saying anything.
  2. You should never answer any police questions without a solicitor present.
  3. You have the right to free legal representation.
  4. You can use the duty solicitor available or choose your own lawyer.

When making an arrest, officers are required to tell you the specific offence or offences you are accused of committing. They must also caution you with the words:

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

After a police interview in connection to a suspected offence of murder or manslaughter, the potential outcomes include:

  • Release with no further action
  • Release under investigation
  • Detention in custody
  • Charging with a specific offence

If you are charged with murder or manslaughter:

  • A hearing date will be set
  • You will either be:
    • Released on bail
    • Kept in custody until your court hearing

If you are released with no further action or under investigation, you can still potentially be rearrested or summonsed to attend a court hearing at any time.

What is the difference between murder and manslaughter?

Murder and manslaughter both involve the alleged offender causing the death of another person. The distinction between the two offences depends on a number of key factors and with the penalties for murder being much more serious than for manslaughter, this distinction is often critical to any defence case.


An offence of murder is committed where the offender:

  1. Unlawfully kills another person.
  2. Was of ‘sound mind and discretion’ at the time of the offence.
  3. Had the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH).

Involuntary manslaughter

An offence of involuntary manslaughter is committed where:

  • The offender meets the first two conditions for murder (i.e. unlawfully killing someone while of sound mind and discretion).
  • BUT it cannot be proved that they had the intent to kill or cause GBH.

There are two types of involuntary manslaughter:

Gross negligence manslaughter – where the defendant’s gross negligence resulted in the death of another person.

Unlawful act manslaughter – where the defendant committed an unlawful or dangerous act that resulted in the death of another.

Voluntary manslaughter

An offence of voluntary manslaughter is committed where:

  • The offender meets the first and third condition for murder (i.e. unlawfully killing someone with the intent to kill or commit GBH).
  • BUT it can be shown that they were not of sound mind and discretion at the time.

There are two main ways that someone may be considered not to have been of sound mind and discretion at the time of an offence:

Diminished responsibility – where the defendant’s conduct can be explained by an abnormality of mental functioning resulting from a recognised medical condition which substantially impacted their ability to understand the nature of their actions, to make a rational judgement and/or to exercise self-control.

Loss of control – where the defendant was afraid of serious violence being done to them and lost control of their actions as a result, leading to the unlawful killing. It must be shown that someone of the same age and sex of the offender, showing a normal degree of tolerance and self-restraint, might have reacted in a similar way under the same circumstances.

Penalties for murder and manslaughter

The maximum sentence for murder is life imprisonment. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 sets out a starting point of 15 years’ imprisonment on conviction for murder where the defendant was aged 18 or over at the time of the offence and 12 years’ imprisonment where the offender was under the age of 18 when the offence occurred.

The starting points for sentencing offences are:

Diminished responsibility – 24 years’ custody.

Loss of control – 14 years’ custody.

Gross negligence manslaughter – 12 years’ custody.

Unlawful act manslaughter – 18 years’ custody.

The actual sentence on conviction for an offence will depend on the degree of ‘culpability’ the defendant is found to have for the offence. Where there are mitigating factors that reduce the defendant’s culpability (e.g. where there was no intention to cause harm or they were acting in self-defence) the sentence on conviction may be significantly lower.

What defence is there against a charge of murder or manslaughter?

This will depend on the circumstances. If you deny that you were involved in unlawfully killing someone, your defence will revolve around proving your innocence e.g. showing that you were elsewhere at the time of the offence or that the killing was lawful e.g. that you were acting in self-defence.

If you are accused of murder and accept that you were involved in an unlawful killing, it may be possible to show that you were not of sound mind and discretion or did not have the intention to kill or commit grievous bodily harm. This could see you facing the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Our criminal defence solicitors are highly experienced with murder and manslaughter charges and the various defence options available, so we can make sure every detail is properly considered and that you have the best chance of a positive outcome.

Contact our criminal defence lawyers today

For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice, immediate representation or to speak to us confidentially about an arrest or charges related to murder or manslaughter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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

  • Brent & Camden London Office: 020 7624 7771
  • Manchester Office: 0161 835 1638
  • Birmingham Office: 0121 614 3333
  • City of London: 0207 624 7771 (our senior Solicitors and Partners can meet by appointment in the City)

Or email:

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

24/7 legal representation for murder or manslaughter charges

Please get in touch for a free initial consultation with one of our expert criminal defence solicitors, as well as immediate representation and advice on dealing with an arrest or charges connected to murder or manslaughter.

We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number: 07836 577 556.

This document does not constitute legal advice.


  • Umar Zeb
      • Umar Zeb
      • Senior Partner - Head of Private Client Crime
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  • Lisa Nicol
      • Lisa Nicol
      • Managing Partner - Head of Crime & Serious Cases
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  • James O'Donnell
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  • Sanjay Cholera
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  • Peter Mulhearn
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  • John Geraghty
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  • Danny Parkash
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  • Mimma Sabato
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  • Tammy Sher
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  • Richard Souper
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  • Jonathan Lynn
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  • Samuel Oduntan
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  • Barry Linnane
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  • Stuart Lloyd
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  • Robert Wong
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  • Rebecca Forbes
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