A charge laid under s.302 of the Queensland Criminal Code, murder is the most serious homicide offence under Queensland law and it carries a mandatory penalty of life imprisonment (which cannot be varied of reduced under any law). In certain circumstances, for example repeat offenders or people who murder police officers there are mandatory minimum non-parole periods which apply to the offence (meaning not only must the court impose a sentence of life imprisonment it must also order that a particular period be served inside jail before the offender becomes eligible for release on parole).
The mandatory minimum non-parole periods applying to the offence of murder are set out in the table below
Repeat offence (ether a previous murder or killing of more than one person at the same time)
Person killed is a police officer
Neither of the above apply
The effect of the mandatory non-parole regime is that a person must serve a minimum of 15 years imprisonment for any offence of murder (and thereafter they will be ‘on parole’ for life) unless one of the specific ‘aggravated’ circumstances applies and increases the minimum non-parole period.
If you would like to know more about murder in Queensland use the tab headings below to assist you.
A charge laid under s.302 of the Queensland Criminal Code, manslaughter is the second most serious homicide offence and it is committed where a person ‘unlawfully kills’ another in circumstances that do not amount to murder. Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment but, unlike the offence of murder, it is not a mandatory penalty and there are no mandatory minimum non-parole periods applying to the offence. While it is unusual, it is possible for a person who is guilty of manslaughter to avoid serving time inside jail (whereas this is not possible for a person who is guilty of murder).
Manslaughter is a ‘default’ alternative to a charge of murder in Queensland. This means that if a person is found not guilty of murder at trial the jury can still convict them of the lesser offence of manslaughter.
It is possible to commit the offence of manslaughter by negligence in cases where a defendant knows that an act or omission is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm but they engage in it anyway, regardless of that risk (not with any malicious intent but merely ignoring the obvious risk their conduct poses).
If you would like to know more about manslaughter in Queensland use the tab headings below to assist you.
A charge laid under s.314A(1) of the Queensland Criminal Code, unlawful striking causing death is a very serious offence and it is committed when a person ‘unlawfully strikes another person to the head or neck’ and causes their death. Unlawful striking causing death is punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment though, like manslaughter, that penalty can be varied and a lesser penalty can be imposed.
If a person is sent into jail when being sentenced for an offence on unlawful striking causing death, they must serve 80% of their head sentence, or 15 years, inside prison before being released (whichever of hose periods is the lesser).
The law specifically provides that if a person is guilty of unlawful striking causing death even if there was an intervening at which caused the death – for example the deceased hitting their head on the pavement after being struck and falling unconscious (indeed this is the most common situation in which the charge is laid).
If you would like to know more about unlawful striking causing death in Queensland use the tab headings below to assist you.