Killings short of murder: culpable homicide in Scots law

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This chapter considers Scotland’s lesser homicide offence: culpable homicide. It looks at the breadth of the range of forms of killing covered by this crime from those which are so serious as to sit on the borderline with murder to those which render the agent of the death so lacking in culpability that the question may be whether to prosecute for a homicide offence at all. The chapter first of all provides an overview of the way in which culpable homicide is defined in Scots law. It then considers its operation on the borderline with murder – where the accused has killed in a manner which bears possible hallmarks of the more serious crime but the lesser offence is, in fact, indicated. In this regard, it also looks specifically at homicides committed on an art and part (or concert) basis. Next, it moves to consider culpable homicide in its own right where this is the crime to be charged from the outset. The law recognises two forms of this ‘involuntary’ type: lawful act and unlawful act. Finally, it draws on these discussions to evaluate the efficacy of the offence as it operates in Scots criminal law currently.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHomicide in Criminal Law
Subtitle of host publicationA Research Companion
EditorsAlan Reed, Michael Bohlander, Nicola Wake, Emma Engleby, Verity Adams
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-351-01631-5
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2018

Publication series

NameSubstantive Issues in Criminal Law


  • criminal law
  • homicide
  • culpable homicide
  • murder
  • mens rea


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