Our team are specialist attempted murder solicitors. If you are being investigated for, or charged with, this offence, it is vital that you contact our attempted murder solicitors as soon as possible.
Which legislation covers this offence?
Attempted murder is covered by Section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981.
What is the legal definition of ‘attempted murder’?
For the purposes of the Act, this offence is committed when a person:-
- does something which is more than merely preparatory to the commission of an offence of murder; and, at the time,
- the person has the intention to kill
Could any other charges be considered in place of this Section 1(1) offence?
Yes. As the offence of attempted murder necessitates evidence of intention to kill, and only to kill (as opposed to murder, which requires an intention to kill OR cause grievous bodily harm), maintaining the allegation is problematic.
Prosecutors are therefore advised to give due consideration to other relevant charges, which might be more appropriate, depending on the facts of the case.
One of these alternative charges could be Section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (Wounding/Causing grievous bodily harm with intent – GBH).
Another possible charge could be Making Threats to Kill (Section 16, Offences Against the Person Act 1861).
Note: It is important that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) present evidence of an intention to kill if this charge is brought.
The CPS has issued the following guidance relating to charging options:-
“When considering the choice of charge, prosecutors should consider what alternative verdicts may be open to a jury on an allegation of attempted murder. Section 6(3) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 applies. Prosecutors should note the judgement in R v Morrison  1 W.L.R.1859, in which, on a single count of attempted murder, the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge had been right to leave to the jury an alternative count of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, because a defendant could not intend to kill without also intending to cause grievous bodily harm. If an alternative count can be left to the jury, prosecutors should not normally add it to the indictment, but should draw to the attention of counsel that the alternative count may be available.”
What factors would indicate an ‘intention to kill’?
It is accepted that the actions of the person accused of this offence should be more than preparatory.
Words uttered and threats made may suggest that there is an intention to kill, but it should be kept in mind that such words may not have been spoken with serious intent, or threats made with a real intention to carry them out.
The CPS gives the following list of factors, evidence of which may assist in proving the intention to kill:-
- calculated planning;
- selection and use of a deadly weapon;
- threats (subject to the paragraph above on bravado);
- severity or duration of attack;
- relevant admissions in interview
What are the court’s sentencing powers for this offence?
Attempted murder is an indictable only offence, which means it starts in the magistrates’ court but then, due to the seriousness of the charge, it is committed up to the crown court for sentencing.
It carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life. It is therefore vital that your contact our attempted murder solicitors as soon as possible. If your loved one has already been convicted of this offence, our attempted murder solicitors can review possible grounds to Appeal.
What factors are taken into account by the court when sentencing?
First of all, the seriousness of the offence is established.
An assessment is made regarding the culpability of the offender, which can take into account the use of a weapon (if applicable).
The degree of harm caused to the victim is also assessed.
Aggravating factors are also taken into consideration, as follows:-
(a) the fact that the victim was particularly vulnerable, for example, because of age or disability
(b) mental or physical suffering inflicted on the victim
(c) the abuse of a position of trust
(d) the use of duress or threats against another person to facilitate the commission of the offence
(e) the fact that the victim was providing a public service or performing a public duty
Mitigating factors include the following:-
(a) the fact that the offender suffered from any mental disorder or mental disability which lowered his degree of culpability
(b) the fact that the offender was provoked (for example, by prolonged stress)
(c) the fact that the offender acted to any extent in self-defence
(d) the age of the offender
The Sentencing Council has also given guidance which covers those factors indicating higher culpability, significantly lower culpability and a more than usually serious degree of harm.
Importantly, sentencing guidelines for those factors indicating significantly lower culpability include the following:-
- A greater degree of provocation than normally expected
- Mental illness or disability
- Youth or age, where it affects the responsibility of the individual defendant
- The fact that the offender played only a minor role in the offence