Criminal Law Complexities of Homicide Explained

Australian State legislation defines murder as the willful killing of another person either with intent or negligence. The legal definition of murder comes from Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900. However, this Act covers the New South Wales region specifically stating that murder is punishable by life imprisonment. Common court laws and State Acts govern the conviction and sentencing of murderers.

If found guilty of a murder charge, every state can sentence the perpetrator to life imprisonment. The maximum number of years for life imprisonment is 25 years without parole. Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory charge convicted murderers with mandatory life imprisonment sentences.

Types of Murder Charges

Murder charges are variably punished according to each state of Australia. Below is an extensive list of common murder charges with certain references to laws applicable in New South Wales according to the Crimes Act 1900.

Murder by Association

If one does not physically carry out the act of murder but assists the perpetrator in another way related to the crime such as evidence disposal, this charge applies. The sentencing of such a crime is mandatory life imprisonment. 

Conspiracy to Commit Murder

A plan to commit murder becomes thwarted by the discovery of such by Law Enforcement. This is referred to as conspiracy to murder and is punishable by imprisonment for up to 25 years. 

Attempted Murder

A futile attempt made to intentionally kill a person may result in imprisonment for up to 17 years.


This applies to the accused if the crime was committed without intent but out of negligence or diminished responsibility. Diminished responsibility refers to the perpetrator’s state of mind when the crime was committed such as an abnormal state of mind. If charged with manslaughter, the sentencing is less harsh as opposed to life imprisonment.

In New South Wales, manslaughter is categorized as either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter refers to murder as a result of the defendant being extremely provoked or suffering from diminished responsibility. Involuntary manslaughter refers to the defendant acting in gross negligence resulting in the death of another person.