Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I is for Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary Manslaughter is basically when the defendant has the actus reus of murder (the unlawful killing of another human being) but does not satisfy the mens rea requirements of murder (an intention to kill or cause Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH).

There are different categories of Involuntary manslaughter:
  • Constructive Manslaughter
  • Gross negligence manslaughter
  • Reckless Manslaughter
  • Corporate manslaughter
These all have different requirements with regards to proving liability.

Constructive manslaughter is a common law offence, meaning all of the principles are established using case law. It has 3 requirements:

  1. The act must have been unlawful
  2. It must have been dangerous
  3. The unlawful and dangerous act must have caused the death
Gross Negligence Manslaughter is based on negligence - a concept associated with civil law, and here in the UK, Tort. This offence occurs where D has been so negligent that criminal liability is appropriate. It has 4 requirements:

  1. Does D have a duty of care towards the victim?
  2. Is D in breach of that duty?
  3. Did the breach of duty cause death?
  4. Should that conduct be classed as criminal?
The other two types, I'm not as familiar with and will need to look up more! However, I did originally type a post which went into far more detail than the above, but my Google chrome decided then would be a good time to crash, so apologies! Here is the I post.


  1. Constructive manslaughter is an interesting name for it.

  2. Originally I explained why it was called that before my chrome crashed - instead of being guilty of murder, the law 'constructs' liability on the basis of another offence - e.g. a battery or assault. As long as the actus reus/mens rea exists for a battery or assault, (and this act caused the death) you can be liable for constructive manslaughter.(Hope this makes sense, and thanks for reading! :) )