What constitutes Murder?
Murder is the unlawful killing of another in the queen's peace, with malice aforethought. It is split into the act of the killing of another, with the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm. It carries a mandatory life sentence unless a defence applies which reduces the offence to one which carries a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment, hence allowing the judge some discretion in sentencing.
One should note that unlawful killing can be an act or omission. Animals and foetuses are not included in the definition of murder. One's intention can be direct or oblique, the latter meaning that 'death or serious bodily harm was a virtual certainty as a result of the individual's actions,' [R v Woollin].
What will the Crown Prosecution Service consider when deciding to charge someone with Murder?
The elements outlined above are generally those considered by the CPS when making a decision as to whether to charge someone with murder.
What the CPS must also show is a casual link. This means that the act or omission must be a substantial cause of death however; it may not be the main cause of death. Hence it is stated that 'it must have more than minimally negligibly or trivially contributed to the death' [R v HM Coroner for Inner London ex p Douglas-Williams].
How can a solicitor assist?
A solicitor can be of valuable assistance in such cases. Such serious offences carry the custodial sentence of life imprisonment and are dealt with in the Crown Court. Generally the evidence in such cases is vast and hence one's solicitor plays in important role in obtaining the case papers, and collating all the evidence in the matter following which they can advise you of the strengths and weakness of both your case and that of the prosecution. The amount of work involved and the extent of the sentence make it more important that an individual exercise their right to legal representation in this instance.
Individuals facing a charge of murder would be entitled to free legal representation under the government's legal aid scheme should they qualify. The individual would qualify if they are earning under a certain amount, and if it is seen to be in the interests of justice that the individual be represented. As this is a serious offence which carries a mandatory custodial sentence of life imprisonment it would be seen to be in the interests of justice that the individual be represented.