A Home Office report shows that both perpetrators and victims of domestic homicide often have at least one vulnerability, such as mental health illness or addiction. This can have a significant bearing on a criminal case, as the defendant may be deemed to have diminished responsibility.
Domestic Homicide Cases
If you have been accused of a domestic homicide and you want a criminal defence lawyer to represent you, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What is domestic homicide?
Domestic homicide is when an adult dies as a result of violence, abuse or neglect from a relative, intimate partner or family member.
Domestic homicide reviews
When a domestic homicide happens, a domestic homicide review (DHR) may be carried out. The purpose of these reviews is to establish lessons that need to be learned, which can then be shared across agencies to better protect victims.
The Home Office report
The Home Office recently published a report summarising the information gleaned from all the DHRs from October 2019 to 2020. Certain trends stood out, such as the prevalence of vulnerabilities amongst both perpetrators and victims.
In fact, 61% of victims had a vulnerability. Of these, 34% were mental health related, 28% were alcohol misuse related, and 22% related to illicit drug use. As for the perpetrators, 71% were identified as having a vulnerability, the most common being alcohol or drug misuse and mental ill-health.
Diminished responsibility and unfit to plead
A defendant facing a murder charge must tell their lawyer about any vulnerabilities, as this could be significant to the case. For one thing, the defendant may be deemed to have ‘diminished responsibility’. This is a defence to murder. It means that the defendant suffered from such abnormality of the mind that their judgement or self-control was impaired. If the judge agrees, the defendant must be sentenced as though he/she committed manslaughter, as opposed to murder. This is favourable, as murder carries a mandatory life sentence, whereas the sentence for manslaughter is at the discretion of the judge.
The other possible outcome where the defendant has a vulnerability is that he/she will be deemed unfit to plead. This applies where the defendant is ‘under a disability’. If a trial is already underway, then it must be abandoned immediately. A trial of facts will then take place instead, but this is only used to establish the truth of the allegations against a defendant. The defendant cannot actually be found guilty.
From October 2019 to 2020, 13 individuals accused of domestic homicide were deemed to have diminished responsibility or were unfit to plead.
Contact our lawyers
If you have been accused of a serious crime such as murder or manslaughter, you need an experienced criminal defence lawyer on your side. Contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors for expert legal representation.
Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.