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(Attempted) Murder

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smiley_face
391354.  Sat Aug 09, 2008 5:21 am Reply with quote

Reading the Jill Dando thread reminded me of an article I read a few weeks ago about two men, whose sentences for attempted murder were lengthened after their victim died after several months in a coma. The story is on the BBC Website here.

Now, this struck me as a little odd. Surely, they've committed the same crime; had the same intent; done the same deed; inflicted the same damage. It just happens that by the grace of God (or rather lack thereof), the victim died. Why should their sentence change as a result? Should they not have been sentenced for the lengthier period in the first instance?

To me, attempted murder and murder should carry the same sentence. At the end of the day, the perpetrator went out with the intention of ending someone's life. The fact that they weren't very successful in their attempt makes no difference whatsoever to their motives, and does nothing to alter the fact that they're just as likely to reoffend as another person who carried out their attempt of murder successfully. Both types of people have a total disrespect for human life, and so both should be locked up for similarly lengthy periods to protect the public.

 
crissdee
391374.  Sat Aug 09, 2008 6:37 am Reply with quote

Never really considered the matter, but having done so I must say I agree wholeheartedly and unreservedly. If you go forth with the intention of ending someone's life, your inability/ineptitude in carrying your plan through to conclusion is really neither here nor there as far as guilt/sentence is concerned.


Yes, I am feeling a trifle verbose at the moment!

 
NinOfEden
391429.  Sat Aug 09, 2008 11:39 am Reply with quote

It does seem odd, yes... same for attempted anything.
Although, murder is an odd crime. If the victim doesn't die, how do you know the attacker actually meant to killr them, as opposed to injure or scare them? + if they do die, how does anyone know that it wasn't manslaughter or accidental killing?
Of course there are often circumstances that point one way or another, but other times it's hard to work out.

 
Efros
391790.  Sun Aug 10, 2008 7:31 pm Reply with quote

It used to become murder if the victim died within a year and a day of the crime from injuries incurred during the crime. It's now up to 3 years, after 3 years the prosecution can only proceed with the consent of the Attorney General.

 
Izzardesque
391821.  Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:23 am Reply with quote

Efros wrote:
It used to become murder if the victim died within a year and a day of the crime from injuries incurred during the crime. It's now up to 3 years, after 3 years the prosecution can only proceed with the consent of the Attorney General.


You got there before me as I was trying to find the case/statute that gave the year and a day definition but got distracted

 
tetsabb
393233.  Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:19 pm Reply with quote

Efros wrote:
It used to become murder if the victim died within a year and a day of the crime from injuries incurred during the crime. It's now up to 3 years, after 3 years the prosecution can only proceed with the consent of the Attorney General.


I could be wrong, but I think this is why the Great Train Robbers were never done for murder.
Quote:
The train driver, Jack Mills, was struck on the head with an iron bar during a struggle. Mills never recovered from the attack and didnít return to work. Although he died of Leukemia in 1970, his family maintains that the attack contributed to his poor health.

http://www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk/famous_crime/36/the_crime/1/The_Great_Train_Robbery.htm

 
suze
393270.  Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:06 pm Reply with quote

Izzardesque wrote:
You got there before me as I was trying to find the case/statute that gave the year and a day definition but got distracted


There was no statute, because the year and a day rule was common law. The Act which changed things in the way described by Efros was the Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996.

 
Arcane
393302.  Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:28 pm Reply with quote

I guess it comes down to the letter of the law rather than the morality of the crime. If someone commits an act and it doesn't result in their immediate death, then it's attempted murder by the letter of the law. If they then die as a direct result of that attempted murder, by the letter of the law it's now murder.

I wonder how it works when someone is the victim of a crime and commits suicide because of shame or distress? There was a case (I'll look it up later even this post has made me woozy) some years ago where a young woman was raped and then ran out in traffic after passersby tried to console her, she was hit by car/s and died.

 
bobwilson
413102.  Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:44 pm Reply with quote

I thought of something when I first saw this thread but didn't want to post since it's slightly off topic and I thought posting it might kill the thread. But since there haven't been any postings for a month now ..............

These men acted in the mistaken belief that they were attacking a molestor of children. Given their actions (and, I confess, looking at their photos) I'm guessing these two are not members of Mensa. In the grand scheme of things their actual crime is to take insufficient care to check their facts (eg right person? more appropriate way of dealing with situation?) - and this has resulted in the death of a person.

Purely for the reason that it's one example that springs to mind (and there are countless others including by other protagonists):

In 1998 the US bombed a medicine factory in Sudan.

The US acted in the mistaken belief that they were attacking a chemical weapons factory. Unlike the two men above, I'd guess that a good number of the people involved in procuring the intelligence and checking the facts would qualify for Mensa. In fact, the collective IQ of all the people involved must be several orders of magnitude higher than the collective IQ of the two in the report. In the grand scheme of things the actual crime is to take insufficient care to check their facts (eg right place? more appropriate way of dealing with situation?) - and this has resulted in the death of quite a number of people.

 
greentree
413231.  Fri Sep 26, 2008 5:56 am Reply with quote

Does one get tried on the result, or the mistake?
Would they be guilty of not checking facts properly, or the fact that they killed lots of people?

*thinking aloud here*
I guess its the result, as (for example) drinking is not illegal, but if I kill someone whilst drunk, then that is illegal. However, had I not been drunk, I wouldn't have killed anyone, so the alcohol is an extenuating circumstance. Do they get taken into account in trials?

 
Davini994
413272.  Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:44 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
The US acted in the mistaken belief that they were attacking a chemical weapons factory. Unlike the two men above, I'd guess that a good number of the people involved in procuring the intelligence and checking the facts would qualify for Mensa. In fact, the collective IQ of all the people involved must be several orders of magnitude higher than the collective IQ of the two in the report. In the grand scheme of things the actual crime is to take insufficient care to check their facts (eg right place? more appropriate way of dealing with situation?) - and this has resulted in the death of quite a number of people.

There is some dispute as to what the intelligence was though, and whether Clinton went against this advice when deciding to bomb the factory.

 
NinOfEden
413341.  Fri Sep 26, 2008 9:33 am Reply with quote

greentree wrote:

I guess its the result, as (for example) drinking is not illegal, but if I kill someone whilst drunk, then that is illegal. However, had I not been drunk, I wouldn't have killed anyone, so the alcohol is an extenuating circumstance. Do they get taken into account in trials?

I don't think 'I was drunk' is an excuse for anything. If alchol makes you violent, don't drink it.

 
suze
413419.  Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:03 am Reply with quote

You're absolutely right of course, but I believe that a person charged with a crime can try the "intoxication defence" to some extent. That is, the the accused argues that he or she was drunk, and would not have done the thing otherwise.

H2G2 is hardly an infallible source of legal information, but you can read what it has to say on the matter here.

I'm sure our resident lawyers can explain the matter much better!

 
PDR
413442.  Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:38 am Reply with quote

On the "Attempted Murder" thing:

I understand that there are circumstances in which one can be charged with murder where there was no prior intent to kill - I think the examples are things like deaths during robberies or during the course of other crimes. In such circumstances it would possibly make a difference whether the victim died or not. It's certainly true in the colonies, where they have this thing called "felony murder" which makes any death resulting from a felony a murder by definition. This brings up curious things like the youths who were looting a shop being charged with murder when one of the TV helicopters filming them crashed. I don't think we have this law here, but I could be wrong.

On the "is it the offense or the consequence" thing:

This is a zone of quicksand. On the one hand we feel that the consequences are what matters, so if a drunk driver kills someone he should be charged with murder (or at least manslaughter). On the other hand we can find that simple misjudgements or distractions become very serious crimes. A mother driving when the infant in the back suddenly starts screaming might momentarily lose attention and drive into a bus queue - is that "murder", "manslaughter" or just an "accident"? Does such a person deserve to get a life sentence?

On the "I wuz drunk m'lud" thing:

Here we have a case where the law has thrown up a serious sexual imbalance, or will do when the act is passed - I can't remember whether this one has happened yet or not. [Let's assume it has]. The law says that where a woman is drunk and has sex with someone because her drunken state reduced her will to refuse, the man in question will be guilty of rape regardless of whether she gave the impression she was consenting or not. But if a man gets drunk, and as a result loses his will to restrain himself and forces his attentions on a woman he can't claim the drunken state as a mitigation in the same way that a woman can. If both were drunk, and the woman gave consent which she subsequently withdraws, the man may be charged with rape even though they were BOTH drunk and therefore presumably both equally responsible (or perhaps that should be "irresponsible"...). I see this as an anomaly.

Our resident lergal eagles will be able to advise where I've gotten the wrong end of the stick here!

PDR

 
bobwilson
414074.  Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:24 am Reply with quote

Quote:
On the "is it the offense or the consequence" thing:

This is a zone of quicksand. On the one hand we feel that the consequences are what matters, so if a drunk driver kills someone he should be charged with murder (or at least manslaughter). On the other hand we can find that simple misjudgements or distractions become very serious crimes. A mother driving when the infant in the back suddenly starts screaming might momentarily lose attention and drive into a bus queue - is that "murder", "manslaughter" or just an "accident"? Does such a person deserve to get a life sentence?


I think a distinction should be made between intentional acts and non-intentional acts.

A drink driver, or a distracted mother, is not intending to cause harm to someone - they're just not taking sufficient care to avoid that. So in that sense the punishment should logically be influenced more by the consequences (and of course, by mitigation - a distracted mother would usually not be as culpable as a drunk driver).

But the chaps in the original article (or the example I quoted) intended to do harm to people - so the intent should weigh more than whether or not it was successful.

With the armed robbery example - that's a case of putting yourself in a position where you are able to do harm to someone so although you don't set out with the intention of committing murder, you accept it as a possible consequence of your actions.

So, overall, it should be that attempted murder - no matter how ineptly carried out - should carry the same penalty as actual murder. IMO.

 

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