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Death by Dangerous Driving and Manslaughter


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#1 marralass

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:34 PM

Why do we have an offence of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving rather than just charging people with Manslaughter.

 

It seems that plenty of people take the attitude that the consequences of bad driving are "just an accident" and the driver is not really to blame. I feel that if we were to charge people who kill as a result of dangerous driving with manslaughter it would send a clear message that drivers are responsible for the results or speeding, dangerous overtaking etc.



#2 scousejon

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:13 PM

Its a fair point you make and in a sense it could be defined as manslaughter.  But I dont think the sentencing would neccessarily be harsher.  Very rare you see anyone convicted of causing death by dangerous driving escape prison, but its quite common that people who commit manslaughter do escape prison.  There was a woman only this week convicted of the manslaughter of a baby, she was given a 20 month prison sentence suspended for 2 years. 

 

In my opinion causing death by dangerous driving is more of a serious offence than manslaughter but each case is judged on its own merits.  There are a few cases where you have to wonder why was it not murder and only manslaughter, it comes down to burden of proof.  The dangeous driving bit would suggest a bit of, not intention to kill but understanding that your actions are deemed lethal.  I dont think someone driving along on their mobile phone and they run someone over would be convicted of death by dangerous (manybe manslaughter would fit in here) or causing death by driving without due care and attention.  The dangerous element is very hard to prove. 

 

Anyone else have any thoughts or can shed some light?



#3 Ed67812

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:41 PM

Fairly simple.

 

To prove unlawful act manslaughter, it must be proved that, the defendant's act caused the death of the victim, the defendant's act constituted a criminal offence in itself, the defendant had the mens rea appropriate to the unlawful act which caused the victim's death and the defendant's unlawful act is objectively recognised as having put the victim at risk of some physical harm, albeit not necessarily serious harm.

 

The key point here is that the act itself must be inherently unlawful. Driving is not an inherently unlawful act. It does attract criminal liability when its standard falls below accepted levels, but this is an unwarranted extension of the law. Therefore to charge unlawful act manslaughter, the driving would have to be an illegal act in its own right, ie. driving the car at somebody using the car as a weapon.

 

As regards gross negligence manslaughter. As a matter of law, it is more difficult to prove an offence of gross negligence manslaughter than it is to prove an offence of causing death by dangerous driving. It is not necessary to have evidence of an obvious and serious risk of death to prove an offence of causing death by dangerous driving. All that is required is evidence that the driving was dangerous and that the driving caused the death of another person.

 

Gross negligence manslaughter therefore can be charged in some cases but is still unlikley.

 

 

Hope that clears it up.

Ed



#4 marralass

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:53 AM

I am not suggesting that any death by car should be manslaughter, only those were the driving is criminal. I am not suggesting that some minor lack of judgement or someone going a tad above the speed limit or making an understandable mistake should be charged with manslaughter.

 

However, those driving considerably above the limit, dangerously overtaking (across continuous lines, on blind bends, where they just don't have room), running red lights, TWOC, driving without insurance or MOT, driving whilst disqualified, driving without a licence, drunk driving, drugged driving etc., these are deliberate criminal acts not just a lapse of judgement, not just driving below par. In my mind if people kill whilst doing they they should be charged with manslaughter. I realise that the sentencing may be the same and that manslaughter wouldn't necessarily attract a longer sentence, but I believe that charging people with manslaughter in these cases will send a strong message that you are responsible for your actions whilst driving and if you drive recklessly you can't just write off the resulting damage as "an accident, could have happened to anyone, I was just unlucky".



#5 meditate

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:11 AM

I personally think that drivers who kill get unusually light sentences. Whilst there is a continuum of blame those at the upper end get ridiculously light sentences.



#6 Soren

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 09:57 PM

I am not suggesting that any death by car should be manslaughter, only those were the driving is criminal. I am not suggesting that some minor lack of judgement or someone going a tad above the speed limit or making an understandable mistake should be charged with manslaughter.

 

However, those driving considerably above the limit, dangerously overtaking (across continuous lines, on blind bends, where they just don't have room), running red lights, TWOC, driving without insurance or MOT, driving whilst disqualified, driving without a licence, drunk driving, drugged driving etc., these are deliberate criminal acts not just a lapse of judgement, not just driving below par. In my mind if people kill whilst doing they they should be charged with manslaughter. I realise that the sentencing may be the same and that manslaughter wouldn't necessarily attract a longer sentence, but I believe that charging people with manslaughter in these cases will send a strong message that you are responsible for your actions whilst driving and if you drive recklessly you can't just write off the resulting damage as "an accident, could have happened to anyone, I was just unlucky".

One of my cases has recently gone to CPS who have decided that manslaughter is more appropriate than S1, simply because the incident doesn't fit the definition of 'accident' due to the alleged degree of reckless intent'.  If you are indeed a 'marra,' marralass, it's in your area. 


Edited by brat, 11 February 2013 - 09:58 PM.


#7 CopperUK

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 08:16 PM

Ed67812

 

Is absolutely spot on here and as he has highlighted there are two types of voluntary manslaughter. Manslaughter killing by an unlawful act and Manslaughter  killing by gross negligence.

 

Marralass, Manslaughter Killing by an Unlawful act requires the unlawful act to be inherently unlawful. Driving no matter by what mannor is not inherently unlawful but can attract criminal liability. Therefore no type of driving can technically for fill this offence. The offence must also be likely to result in the infliction of bodily harm and there must be a direct link between the act and the likelihood of bodily harm (TWOC and contravening a red traffic signal would not suffice). Also with dangerous driving it can be held that the driving was dangerous without the need to prove the defendant appreciated the likelihood of causing injury. Argo even if this offence was applicable for driving incidents it would be easier to prove Death by Dangerous Driving as there is no requirement for the defendant to appreciate the risk of serious harm or harm being caused just that they were aware that their driving fell far below the

standard of a competent and careful driver.

 

Manslaughter killing by gross negligence is a complex offence to prove and requires both a legal and factual test of the term gross and then a factual test for negligence but it is generally reserved for cases of severe negligence not just driving incidents and is usually reserved for matters that have been committed by omission.

 

In summary, The RTA brought about the offence of death by dangerous driving for a reason. For cases where there was no Intent to cause the death or GBH  (i.e. no murder) there was little by way of offences to reflect the severity of bringing about a death by dangerous driving  as, as stated above, it was held that Manslaughter would not apply.


Edited by CopperUK, 12 February 2013 - 08:21 PM.





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