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Murder, Attempted Murder & Culpable Homicide

The most serious of crimes are those which result in the loss of life. These carry penalties which are among the most serious the law metes out and as such require skilled and careful handling, as well as a robust and fearless defence.

Defences to a Charge of Murder

Crimes which cause the loss of life in Scotland are ‘common law’ crimes. There is no act which dictates the definition of murder for instance.


In Scots law, murder occurs when a person takes the life of another either deliberately (with intent) or in circumstances where the accused person exhibits reckless disregard for the life of their victim. Defences to a charge of murder include self-defence. Some defences, such as provocation, mitigate the seriousness of the charge to one of culpable homicide (see below). The law relating to murder, and defences to the charge is complex and requires detailed scrutiny of the evidence and facts as such, it pays to instruct a solicitor who specialises in defences to the charge of murder. We have extensive experience in defending clients charged with murder – contact us now for advice.

Culpable Homicide

Culpable homicide is an act (or failure to act) which results in death. Unlike murder, there need not be any specific intention to harm the victim, indeed, the main distinction is the absence of an intent to kill. An assault which results in death may be a culpable homicide, as may an accident at work. Culpable homicide is a lesser charge and as such carries a lesser penalty than murder – a skilled lawyer may be able to reduce a charge of murder to one of culpable homicide.

Attempted Murder

Scots law criminalises ‘attempted’ crimes – an accused person cannot escape liability for an attempted crime simply because they failed. In a charge of attempted murder, there will still be a willful or reckless disregard for the life of the potential victim with the distinction obviously being that death is not the result. Importantly, there does not need to be an intent to kill for an incident to be regarded as attempted murder.

This is a very serious area of law and one which requires expert handling and preparation of your case. We will advise you at all stages from your initial police interview through to trial and appeal if necessary.

Contact our Murder Defence Lawyers Alloa, Fife, Dundee, Edinburgh & Stirling 

Our criminal solicitors can assist by discussing your options with you confidentially, and are ready to fight your corner. We provide a fully comprehensive legal service from liaising with the police through to representing you in court. Call our criminal defence lawyers for a free, initial consultation in Dunfermline on 01383 730 466, in Kirkcaldy on 01592 640 680, in Alloa on 01259 725 922 or make an online enquiry.


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Dunfermline 01383 730 466
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