Criticisms of Murder, Loss of Control and Diminished Responsibility

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It is self-evident that our existing homicide laws are in urgent need of reform when even Ken Macdonald QC, the director of public prosecutions, criticises them and is echoed by several senior judges. In an interview, he proposed that there should be degrees of homicide, not just murder and manslaughter, but three or four degrees. The government has acknowledged this and has asked the law commission to widen its approach from just examining the law on provocation to consideration of the whole law on homicide. The law commission itself commented on the current Homicide law (provocation) and stated that the present law of murder in England and Wales is a mess. The Homicide Act 1957 has been criticised mainly under these following premises. The Mandatory life sentence for committing murder has been criticised for being too rigid in the cases of mercy killing, for example, a man may have helped to kill his terminally ill wife because she begged him to put an end to her pain. The court may feel considerable sympathy for the husband who carried out the act of a mercy killing, but would still be obliged to impose a life sentence. The mandatory life sentence for murder means that once convicted of the offence, the defendants face the same penalty whether they are serial killers, terrorists or mercy killers. This inflexibility prevents the court from taking into account motive or circumstances, both of which can make a significant difference to the way in which society would view the individual offence. In R.v.Lichniak (2002) the defendants argued that the life sentence was disproportionate to the offence, in breach of article 3 of the European convention of the European Convention of Human Rights, an arbitrary, in breach of Article 5 of the convention. These arguments were rejected by the House of Lords. A further Criticism of Murder is that of the actual definition

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