Abstract: There are good reasons why we should be less than happy with both the substantive law and the sentencing of murder. The Law Commission’s recommendations for restructuring the substantive law in 2006 have largely fallen on deaf ears and the defi ciencies they identifi ed remain unaddressed. Serious concerns have also been raised about the sentencing law. One of the main assumptions behind the mandatory life sentence — that it was supported by the overwhelming majority of the public — has been doubted following careful survey research, and Sch.21 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (to which judges must have regard when determining the minimum term) has been heavily criticised. Through an analysis of the principal shortcomings of the status quo in England and Wales, this article suggests how the criminal justice system should deal with the more serious cases of unlawful homicide by revisiting both the defi nition of murder and the punishment of convicted offenders.
Keywords: Criminal Justice Act 2003; homicide; mandatory life sentence; restructuring of offences; serious offences
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