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Homicide in Brisbane

There are various charges that may be laid in response to an alleged homicide in Brisbane. These include murder, manslaughter and infanticide. These offences carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and are dealt with in the Supreme Court. This article outlines the various offences that related to homicide in Brisbane and the rest of Queensland.


The Criminal Code 1899 outlines the offence of murder at section 302. Under that provision, a person is guilty of murder if they cause the death of another person under any of the following circumstances:

  • Intending to kill or do grievous bodily harm to the deceased or to another person;
  • Where the death was caused by an act or omission done with reckless indifference to human life;
  • Where the death was caused by an act done in prosecution of an unlawful purpose of a nature as to be likely to endanger human life;
  • Where they intend to do grievous bodily harm for the purpose of committing a crime or facilitating the flight of a person who has committed a crime;
  • Where the death is caused by administering a stupefying or overpowering thing;
  • Where the death is caused by wilfully stopping the deceased’s breath for the purpose of committing a crime.

This is a broader definition of murder than the definition in many other jurisdictions. Under this provision, a person may be found guilty of murder under circumstances where they did not intend to cause the death of, or even harm to, the victim.


The second most serious offence of homicide in Brisbane and the rest of Queensland is that of manslaughter. Manslaughter is governed by section 303 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates that a person is guilty of the offence if they unlawfully kill another person under circumstances that no not constitute murder.

Attempted murder

A person who attempts to unlawfully kill another is guilty of a crime under section 306. The fact that the victim survived due to medical intervention or other circumstances does not reduce the seriousness of the offence and the offender is liable to imprisonment for life.

Defences to homicide in Brisbane

There are various defences that may be relied on when charged with a homicide in Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland. Some of these re outlined below.


A person is not guilty of an offence if they kill another person is self-defence or in defence of another person. The law recognises that a person has the right to defend themselves from threats to their life and threats of serious harm.

In order to successfully rely on the defence of self-defence in relation to a homicide offence, the accused must have been facing a threat of death or serious harm. Their response must have been proportionate to the threat faced and not excessive. However, a person is not required to weigh their response ‘on a knife’s edge’ when faced with a threat to their person.

If a person is killed in self-defence, this is known as justifiable homicide and no offence has been committed. However, if a person kills in self-defence and their response if found to have been excessive, these circumstances will reduce a finding of murder to one for manslaughter.   

Diminished responsibility

Section 304A provides that person charged with murder may rely on the partial defence of diminished responsibility. A person may rely on this defence if, at the time of the acts causing death, they were in a state of such abnormality of mind that their capacity to understand what they were doing was substantially impaired. If this defence succeeds, they will be found guilty of manslaughter and not of murder.


Provocation can be relied on as a partial, but not as a full, defence to a charge of murder in Queensland. If a person kills another person in the heat of passion caused by provocation by the victim, before there is time for their passion to cool, they are guilty of manslaughter and not of murder.

Section 304 of the Criminal Code provides that this defence cannot be relied on in certain situations. For example, it cannot be advanced where the provocation alleged consisted only of an unwanted sexual advance. It cannot be relied on where the provocation claimed consisted of the victim trying to end or change the nature of a relationship with the accused. 

Jurisdiction of homicide offences

Murder, manslaughter and attempted murder are all strictly indictable offences and must be finalised in the Supreme Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in relation to homicide in Brisbane or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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