In the UK, the crime of attempted murder is one of the most serious offences and it can carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
It occurs when an individual makes a deliberate attempt to kill another person, but the bid is unsuccessful.
Despite the seriousness of the crime, there are several myths surrounding attempted murder under UK law which have been further perpetuated by soap operas and misinformation or mixing up with regulations in the United States.
So, what is the truth behind some of the most common myths relating to attempted murder?
Myth 1- Attempted murder is not as severe as murder itself
This is a common misconception, but attempted murder is just as serious as murder itself. Although the victim may have survived, the attempt to take someone’s life is a heinous crime and will be treated accordingly. Attempted murder can lead to severe physical and psychological harm to the victim, and the person who committed the crime must be held accountable for their actions. In order to have any penalties for committing attempted murder reduced, you will need to seek the advice of a criminal solicitor.
Myth 2- A person must physically harm the victim for it to be attempted murder
Attempted murder does not necessarily require the perpetrator to have physically harmed the victim. Trying to kill someone, even if it is unsuccessful, can still be considered attempted murder. This means that someone who tries to poison or suffocate their victim, for example, can still be charged with attempted murder, even if the victim did not suffer physical harm.
Myth 3- A person can only be charged with attempted murder if they intend to kill the victim
Although the intention to kill is a significant factor in determining whether an offence amounts to attempted murder, it is not the only factor. If a person intends to cause serious harm to another person and the damage is of such a nature that it could cause death, they can still be charged with attempted murder. For example, if someone sets fire to a house, knowing that someone is inside, they may be charged with attempted murder, even if they did not intend to kill the victim.
Myth 4- The victim must be aware of the attempted murder for it to be a crime
Not at all! The victim does not need to be aware that someone has attempted to murder them for it to be a crime. The act of trying to kill someone is enough to constitute the offence, regardless of whether the victim was aware of the attempt. In fact, the victim may not even realize they were the intended target of an attempted murder.
Myth 5- If a person is mentally ill, they cannot be charged with attempted murder
This is a tragic misconception that can lead to a lot of assumptions.
While a mental illness may be taken into account when determining whether a person is fit to stand trial, it is not a defense against a charge of attempted murder. If a person has a mental illness which is deemed severe enough to impact on how they perceive the world, or their actions, they may be sentenced to time in a psychiatric unit. However, this is a rare outcome, and the vast majority of people with mental illnesses who attempt to kill someone will still be charged with attempted murder.