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Murder can also be established in cases of "constructive murder." This occurs when a voluntary act or omission of the accused results in the death of another person while attempting to commit an offence that is punishable by a minimum of 25 years of imprisonment. You do not need to intend to cause death to be liable for constructive murder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the options below to learn the answers to frequently asked questions about Assault charges.

The legal consequences for murder in NSW are severe. While the maximum penalty is imprisonment for life, it’s crucial to note that the court has discretion in imposing penalties, and the actual punishment may vary depending on the circumstances of the case. In certain cases, lesser penalties than life imprisonment can be imposed, though they remain substantial.

When facing a charge of murder in New South Wales (NSW), individuals have the opportunity to mount a valid defence based on various legal principles. These defences are integral to ensuring that justice is served in complex cases.


Self Defence

  • This defence is grounded in the recognition that individuals have the inherent right to protect themselves from physical attacks or imminent threats. It also extends to the defence of others facing physical harm.
  • When self-defence is raised as a defence, the burden of proof shifts to the prosecution, requiring them to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did not act in self-defence.
  • To secure an acquittal on self-defence grounds, the accused must demonstrate that they held a reasonable belief that their actions were necessary for self-preservation. The reasonableness of this belief hinges on the nature and seriousness of the threat faced.


Extreme Provocation: Extreme provocation serves as a partial defense to a murder charge, which, if proven, can result in a reduced verdict from murder to manslaughter. To successfully argue extreme provocation, the accused must show that:

  • They acted in response to the victim’s conduct.
  • The victim’s conduct constituted a serious indictable offence.
  • The victim’s conduct triggered a loss of self-control in the accused to the point where they intended to kill or cause serious harm to the victim. 
  • This loss of control must be of a magnitude that an ordinary person could have experienced under similar circumstances. It’s important to note that non-violent sexual advances do not qualify as extreme provocation.


Lawful Excuse: Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) provides that a person is not guilty of murder if they had a lawful cause or excuse for their actions.

Misfortune: Under Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), an individual is not guilty of murder if they caused a person’s death purely by misfortune, without any criminal intent.


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