If you are looking for a specialist manslaughter lawyer who can defend you against an allegation of unlawful killing, speak to Jim Meyer; he is a ranked UK criminal defence lawyer who has extensive experience in this area and has successfully secured the acquittal of numerous clients accused of such matters.
Jim’s case experience includes defending those accused of:
- Voluntary manslaughter (these sorts of cases include circumstances which effectively amount to murder but the charge is reduced to manslaughter because the court accepts that the accused lost control, suffered from diminished responsibility or was acting in pursuance of a suicide pact);
- Involuntary manslaughter, where Jim’s clients were either accused of causing someone’s death:
- By an unlawful act likely to cause bodily harm (“unlawful act manslaughter” also referred to as “constructive manslaughter“); or
- Through gross negligence.
Jim’s expertise in relation to voluntary manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter is dealt with elsewhere on this site but the bottom line is that if you or a loved one are accused of causing the death of another then you need to immediately instruct an experienced solicitor, like Jim, to mount the most robust defence possible.
In Jim’s experience, whilst unlawful act manslaughters are most typically alleged when death follows an assault or some other offence against the deceased, such as administering a noxious thing, this isn’t always the case and the unlawful act alleged doesn’t actually have to be directed against the person who has died. In all cases, the key to a successful outcome will be by establishing one or a combination of the following:
- Doubt as to whether the alleged act caused1 the death; or
- Doubt as to whether the accused committed the alleged act; or
- The accused was acting lawfully, for example, in self-defence; or
- A sober and reasonable person would not have recognised the risk of some physical harm resulting from the accused’s act.
1 In criminal law, the police don’t just have to prove that death would not have occurred but for the accused’s act; they must prove that the accused’s actions (or, in the case of gross negligence manslaughter, ommissions) contributed towards the death more than trivially.↩
How can you successfully defend a manslaughter case?
In order to successfully defend an allegation of manslaughter, you need to identify which of the above scenarios is applicable. That is your investigative aim and when you know that you can identify and agree on the actions which, if fulfilled, will help you achieve it. Jim can help you with this, and advise on the prospects of your investigations succeeding. This will include the potential for challenging:
- Forensic evidence; and
- Behaviour that accompanies the giving of testimony by witnesses, in terms of “what”, “how” and “why” it emerged.
Challenging forensic evidence
Juries find scientist evidence compelling and place great trust in it. In Jim’s experience, there is often a substantial gap between theory and practice when it comes to the path of forensic evidence in terms of knowledge, skills, appropriate practice and the application or even existence of quality controls and quality assurance. It is also the case that statements and reports by those involved in a forensic investigation are liable to have manifest shortcomings or to be characterised by omission. The approach you need to take to this evidence is clear – maintain a healthy scepticism:
- Always remember that because of the way in which the police choose evidence to submit for examination and because of the way the prosecution’s scientist prepares the report for the court, forensic evidence is highly selective in nature;
- The disbanding of the Forensic Science Service has increased the risk from failures to control the quality and reliability of the evidence the expert instructed by the police produces and presents to the court, and such evidence can be wrong, for all manner of reasons;
- Forensic evidence is open to interpretation and there may be another, innocent explanation;
- The forensic evidence may be totally irrelevant;
- Think about the forensic evidence that is absent from the case.
How much will it cost?
If you instruct Jim, probably the first thing you will realise is that he is a straight-talking lawyer who provides honest and frank advice without any "BS". The same is also true about what he will tell you in relation to how much it will likely cost you to hire him, and he aims to be completely transparent about what he charges, what this pays for and how this compares to a lawyer being remunerated under legal aid. Jim believes this is the only way his clients can make a sensible, informed decision on how to proceed.
Jim has compiled a database of historical bills for matters in a single financial year to help him estimate how much a case will cost. Looking at this data there are 61 cases1 where:
- The main allegation was manslaughter,
- There was a single defendant, who
- Pleaded not guilty, and
- Was subseqently tried before a jury in the Crown Court.
Based on this information, Jim's advice is:
- The prosecution evidence in a typical case alleging manslaughter normally runs to approximately 1,962 pages (note that this does not include CCTV, multi-media or digital evidence; nor does it include any unused material served by the prosecution [i.e. material which the prosecution believes may undermine its case or assist the case for the accused] or any evidence collected by the defence); the minimum number of pages was recorded as 10 and the maximum was 38,461;
- A crown court trial where there is a single defendant and the main allegation is manslaughter will normally comprise 85 prosecution witnesses and last around 13 days (the lowest number of witnesses recorded was 14 and the most was 225; the shortest trial recorded was 3 and the longest was 51);
- For a trial lasting 13 days with 85 witnesses and a similar page count of 1962 pages, Jim estimates the total cost (including VAT and the advocates fee but excluding any other disbursements) will be in the range of £174,620 to £265,980. This compares to the typical fee2 of £35,900 paid to the legal team under legal aid.
1 Note that this doesn't represent all of the data on historical cases; in order to try to provide a "like-for-like" comparison it is restricted to cases where there was a single client and the matter was tried in the crown court. This will give you a general idea but obviously Jim will be able to advise you on the specifics of your particular case and the impact this may have on the likely cost. ↩
2 This is an approximation. There are calculators available on the MOJ\'s website which will help you work out the fee claimable under the scheme, exluding any additional payment made for "special preparation".↩
Relevant cases in relation to Manslaughter