Previous: Voluntary manslaughter

Whereas voluntary manslaughter involves the same actus reus and mens rea as murder, but for some mitigating circumstance, involuntary manslaughter does not require an intent to kill, as was said by Baker in Glanville Williams’ Criminal law. In the words of Lord Atkin in Andrews v DPP [1937], manslaughter is based on the “elusive” concept of unlawfulness as opposed to intent. There are three types of involuntary manslaughter: unlawful act manslaughter (sometimes called constructive manslaughter), gross negligence manslaughter and reckless manslaughter. In practice, the prosecution will decide which type of manslaughter it wishes to pursue, however, there is no obligation to do so.

Reckless manslaughter

The Law Commission has recommended the abolition of reckless manslaughter: a leftover from murder who only successful conviction occurred in R v Lidar [1999]. Hyam v DPP [1975] made reference to this type of manslaughter, requiring serious injury to be highly probable. It is assumed that no unlawful act would (theoretically) be required. Due to its lack of authority and uncertainty, it shall not be discussed further.

Unlawful act manslaughter

Unlawful act manslaughter is the charge bought when a defendant has the actus reus of murder, but only the mens rea of a lesser offence (the unlawful act). Ashworth is very critical of the offence as it is a clear breach of the correspondence principle: a battery, which has a 6 month maximum sentence, could become a life sentence if the victim unexpectedly dies as a result of some unforeseen circumstances...

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