Culpable homicide and attempted murder 

When someone is convicted of murder, this means they have killed with intent. In Scotland, there is no manslaughter, but culpable homicide is the nearest equivalent. For this charge to be brought there must have been no intent or recklessness to cause death but the actions were not justifiable nor was it an accident. Our culpable homicide Scotland lawyers are available 24/7 to take your call. Other charges can be brought when someone is killed or almost killed. The crimes are known as attempted homicide/attempted murder.

Culpable homicide and attempted homicide FAQ

A: Otherwise known as manslaughter outside of Scotland is when a person is killed without intent but not due to an accident or justifiable actions.
A: This is where "serious assault" has occurred in an attempt to kill a person. You can also be charged for the recklessness of assault without regard for the consequences of the assault.

Culpable homicide Scotland

Culpable homicide is when someone is killed in circumstances that are neither accidental nor justified, but where there is no intent or recklessness required for murder. As a crime of violence, there are severe consequences for a conviction. 

Maximum sentence for culpable homicide in Scotland

The difference in sentencing between culpable homicide and murder is significant.  Only murder carries a mandatory life sentence.

This leaves courts with the full range of sanctions at its disposal, so it is possible to be convicted of this and not serve a prison sentence.

Getting expert legal advice as early as possible can be crucial in the outcome of a case.

Culpable homicide can be further classified in three ways:

Voluntary Acts

There is a fine line between voluntary act culpable homicide and murder.  The Crown may choose to pursue culpable homicide rather than murder if either provocation or diminished responsibility is present in the crime.

Involuntary Acts

Involuntary act culpable homicide is where the person was responsible for their actions, but they did not intend to kill the deceased.  An example may be where an assault with an intent to injure took place, but there was no intent to kill.

Lawful Acts

This is an unusual category which covers legal and illegal actions which result in death but weren’t directed at the deceased.  An example may be someone carelessly cutting down a tree that hits and kills another person. Another example is supplying illegal drugs which result in someone’s death.

These distinctions are important because it changes what the Crown has to prove in court.  For unlawful act culpable homicide cases, the Crown only has to prove intention or knowledge of wrong-doing.

For lawful act cases, the Crown needs to prove the accused’s actions were sufficiently reckless or ‘gross or wicked indifference to consequences.’

Attempted Homicide

In Scotland, attempted homicide may also be referred to as attempted murder. 

If a serious assault occurs and there is an attempt to kill or a wilful recklessness without regard to the consequences, it is considered an attempted homicide.

Serious assault is defined as:

  • Fracture of a bone
  • Internal injuries
  • Severe concussion
  • Lacerations requiring stitches and which may lead to impairment or disfigurement
  • Any other injury which leads to disfigurement or impairment

The maximum sentence for attempted murder is a life sentence as it is considered the same as murder, without the loss of life.  Our expert lawyers will fight your corner and act to reduce any custodial sentence to the minimum. If the evidence suggests we can gain an acquittal we will do everything we can to pursue this option.

In Scotland, all life sentences carry the possibility of parole.  A judge will set a minimum sentence to be served, after which a parole board will consider eligibility for release.

Culpable homicide lawyer

If the police charge you in connection to a death, speak to our expert lawyers.  We are available for free and 24/7.  We must discuss your case urgently to determine the circumstances of your situation. We are one of the largest Legal Aid Glasgow law firms and so you may not have to pay a penny for representation.