Criminal Law Investigation
Murder is when a person of sound mind unlawfully kills any person with malice aforethought.
To be convicted of murder, it has to be proven that the accused planned to kill the victim, or that the accused acted in a way that he/she knew would harm or kill the victim.
To defend against murder, one could claim self-defence, that is, that they killed the person while defending themselves, if this was proven, the accused should get acquitted. They could also claim they were provoked, if this was proven, the crime would be brought down to manslaughter.
The punishment for murder is usually life imprisonment, but the court can impose any punishment they choose.
A current Australian case is the one involving Adrian Bryant, who is accused of killing many people in Port Arthur earlier this year.
Common assault (not sexual or seizing assault), is the use of force by a person intending to inflict pain, injury, discomfort or insult on another person.
To prove this, it must be shown that the accused committed the crime, no forethought needs to be proven.
To defend against this, the accused could claim it was an accident, self-defence or consent of the victim. Consent is just if the victim said it was all right for the accused to do what he/she did. The other two are self explanatory.
The maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment, but commonly punishments include fines, good behaviour and community based orders.
A recent case in Australia was of a man who was stabbed outside a nightclub by a group of people.
Rape is any introduction of any object into the vagina or anus of another person without their consent.
To prove rape it must be proven that it was committed without the consent of the victim.
The common defence is that the victim consented to the act, whereas, the accused would be acquitted.
The punishment for rape is a maximum of 10 years, and if someone has been found guilty of rape twice, they can be tried for rape with aggravated circumstances and a maximum of 20 years applies for this crime.
An Australian case that I can remember involved a man who was accused of raping his wife, and his defence was that she was asking for it.
Kidnapping is the taking away of a person by another or others with intent to demand payment such as ransom.
It has to be proven that the accused intended to demand something, and that they took the person against their will.
If the accused has asked for something in return for the person they have supposedly kidnapped, there isn't any common defences. Otherwise, they could say the victim consented to go along with them.
The penalty is a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.
A case that I can remember is when a man from some foreign country, came to Australia and kidnapped his son from his ex-wife's care.
Theft is the dishonest appropriation of property which belongs to another person with the intention of permanently depriving that other person of his/her property.
It has to be proven that the accused intentionally took the property, and they planned to permanently deprive the person of the property.
A defence that could be used is that they intended giving it back, this may work if the accused knew the person, otherwise, if the accused is found with the property, they could say they bought it from someone, which they would then be tried for possession of stolen goods, but it carries a smaller penalty.
The penalty for theft is a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
Theft is occurring very often, small cases and larger ones. One that I can recall was a ram raid on a jewellery store in the city earlier this year, where a group of people rammed a four wheel drive through the front of the store and proceeded to steal the goods from the store.