Murder and conspiracy to murder are both serious charges which typically result in long prison sentences following a conviction.
However, there are some key differences between them, which will impact how a lawyer approaches putting together a defence. It is important to note that it is possible for courts to decide on shorter prison sentences even if the accused is convicted of murder-related charges. That is why defence by a legal expert on murder and manslaughter charges should always be employed.
In this article, we discuss the differences between these charges, and explain how these differences will affect you if you have been charged with either offence.
What is Murder?
In Queensland, homicide is dealt with under the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld). Section 304 of the act defines murder as the unlawful killing of another person under the following circumstances:
- If there was intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm
- If death was caused by act or omission with reckless indifference to human life; or
- If death was caused by an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose.
It’s worth noting that this is different to manslaughter, which is the unlawful killing of a person without the intent to kill.
A person convicted of murder will typically face a serious prison sentence. If a person were to murder multiple people or has a previous murder conviction, the minimum sentence is 30 years. As well as this, if a person were to knowingly murder a police officer, their minimum sentence is 25 years.
Murder is also different from dangerous driving causing death. If a person were to kill a person as a result of dangerous or negligent driving, they would likely be charged with a different offence. This charge holds a maximum potential sentence of 14 years.
What is Conspiracy to Murder?
Conspiracy to murder is an associated crime with murder but is a separate charge.
This charge applies where a person has planned a murder or participated in the planning of someone’s murder. A person can also be charged if they arrange for someone to murder a person, encourage or persuade someone to murder a person, or if they assist in planning a murder.
A person can be found guilty of this charge even when they have not carried out all the actions necessary to commit the murder, or have desisted from committing the murder of their own accord.
Conspiracy to commit murder can hold a maximum penalty of up to 14 years, which means that despite having a lower penalty than murder itself, it is still a very serious crime.
If you are charged with conspiring to murder, it is important to seek experienced legal representation right away.
What Must the Prosecution Prove for Conspiracy to Murder?
As conspiracy to murder is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. This means that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant conspired to murder someone. There is generally a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of conspiracy to murder, including proving beyond reasonable doubt the following:
- That the accused and at least one other person conspired or agreed to commit murder, or
- That the accused encouraged, solicited, proposed, persuaded, or endeavoured to persuade at least one person to commit murder.
Need Legal Advice About Murder or Conspiracy Charges?
Murder and conspiracy to murder are both serious charges, carrying potentially life-changing sentences if a person is convicted. If you have been charged with murder or conspiracy to murder, you will need a team of lawyers who know how to represent you and get the best results.
Here at Guest Lawyers, our criminal lawyers have extensive experience defending those charged with a variety of murder-related charges. If you need legal advice or representation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today to discuss your situation.