The focus of this book is on general principles that define criminal liability and provide excuses or justifications for the commission of all crimes. Nevertheless, it is useful to have a sense of some of the most serious or important offences and how they are informed by contextual considerations that are specific to the particular crime. Although homicide offences are statistically rare, they are the place where much criminal law is developed. There are three homicide offences: murder, manslaughter, and infanticide. In addition, the most serious murders are classified as first-degree murder, which requires the proof of additional fault such as planning and deliberation or the commission of
another serious crime during the killing. Provocation is a controversial defence available only to accused charged with murder. It applies when an accused kills in a rage produced by a sudden and wrongful act or insult that would have caused an ordinary person to lose self-control. This defence does not lead to a complete acquittal, but reduces murder to manslaughter. This avoids the mandatory penalty of life imprisonment that follows a murder conviction.
Sexual assault has been a particularly controversial offence and the subject of much law reform. In 1982, the offence of rape was replaced with offences of sexual assault that were designed to stress the violence in sexual crimes and to expand...