Culpable homicide charges are one of the most serious criminal charges that can be brought against a person. If you have been charged or are under investigation for this offence, you would need top level criminal defense lawyers with a proven record of successful representation. Lawyers at Gloria James-Civetta & Co can help you.
Speak to our specialist criminal defense lawyers for advice in this area. Your initial consultation with our team is Free.
What is culpable homicide?
Culpable homicide is defined by s299 of the Singapore Penal Code. The definition can be broken down into three limbs:
Whoever causes death by doing an act
- With the intention of causing death, or
- With the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or
- With the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.
How does it differ from murder?
Every murder is culpable homicide, but the reverse is not true. This means that all cases falling within s300 will fall under s299, but all cases falling within s299 do not necessarily fall within s300.
S 300(a) and s 299 part (i)
Both s 300(a) and s 299 part (i) require that the offender must intend for the act to cause death. The only difference is that the act of an offender charged under s 299 falls under one of the exceptions to s 300(a) such that it is reduced to that of culpable homicide under s299.
S 300(c) and s 299 part (ii)
The distinction here lies in the degree of probability of death due to the act committed. The degree of probability of death is higher in s 300(c) as it must be one which is “sufficient in the ordinary nature to cause death”. In contrast, the degree of probability of death in s 299 part (ii) is one that is only “likely”, but not sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
S 300(b) and s 299 part (ii)
The difference between these two offences are that:
In the case of s 300(b), the offender must first know of the victim’s peculiar circumstances, and must have then committed the act, knowing that the victim’s death from the act is likely due to the victim’s peculiar circumstances.
In the case of s 299, knowledge is not necessary. As long as the bodily injury is likely to cause death, the offender will be guilty under s 299. This is regardless of whether the death was caused by the victim’s peculiar circumstances, whether a normal person in a sound state of health would not have died, and even whether death could have prevented if proper medical treatment was given.
S 300(d) and s 299(iii)
Both offences require knowledge on the offender’s part. The difference lies in the degree of probability of death.
In s 300 (d), D must know that the act is “so imminently dangerous” that it must “in all probability” cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.
The degree of probability in s 299 part (iii) is lower in that the offender only needs to know that the act is “likely” to cause death. The act need not “in all probability” cause death.
Moreover, s 300 requires the offender to have committed the act without an excuse. This means that even if the offender has an excuse which absolves him from murder under s 300(d), he can still be deemed guilty for culpable homicide under s 299 part (iii).
In addition, s 300 is unique in that the offence of murder is subjected to seven special exceptions. They are, in brief, provocation, exceeding the right to private defence, exceeding the powers of a public servant, sudden fight, consent, infanticide and diminished responsibility.
Where the offending act was committed with the intention of causing death, or of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, the offender may be punished with either, life imprisonment with caning or imprisonment for up to 20 years with fine or caning.
Where the offending act was done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death but without any intention to cause death or such bodily injury which is likely to cause death, the offender will be punished with up to 10 years imprisonment, fine, caning, or any combination of these punishments.
Need legal advice?
Gloria James Civetta & Co is an established Singapore law firm with a team of lawyers well versed in criminal law.