There is nothing so emotive than to lose a loved one due to a criminal act such as murder. The devastation can only be imagined by those not affected. Even, perhaps more hurtful is if the murder is by a family member, husband or wife for instance or the murder of a child.
The unthinkable regrettably does happen but what can the family victims left behind do? This short blog looks at the compensation elements to help family members left behind cope with the financial pressures of losing a relative.
The CICA is set up by the Government to help victims of crime by making a compensation award to certain family members who have been affected by the death of a loved one.
The compensation award is similar in certain respect to a normal claim for fatal accident compensation claims in the civil courts. The CICA have a tariff of compensation awards which includes claims for murder and thus a bereavement award and dependency claim can be make.
Nobody is ever suggesting that a lump sum compensation award for a fatal injury claim on a charge for murder or manslaughter can in anyway replace the loss of a relative. But compensation for a murdered relative may help those family members left behind, particularly if there are young children or the bread winner has lost his or her life due to a crime.
The compensation may help towards child care, education and protect their future. Family members who are struggling to make ends meet will find it easier to cope with the every day life and bills that keep on coming in. The loss of a loved one due to a crime, criminal act does not stop bills.
Affected family members even if they were working at the time, may not be able to come with returning to work for a long period of time or at all. Again this can result in loss of income or if children have to be looked after, the working parent may not be able to return.
Whatever the circumstances, compensation for the murder of a relative due to a crime may be payable even if the perpetrator is known to the victim.
When faced with a fatal accident claims road traffic accident there can be worry for the dependent family that the defendant driver does not have motor insurance to provide compensation to the deceased’s estate and family left behind.
Thankfully, even if the defendant driver was uninsured or even untraced at the time of the fatal accident claim the family and the estate of the deceased are still able to obtain compensation from the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB).
The MIB has been set up to provide compensation for fatal accident claim so that the family left behind do not financially suffer as a result of losing a love one.
The claim procedure will be handled the same by the fatal accident claim solicitors which will include:
Investigating the circumstances of the fatal accident claim.
Dealing with the police
Speaking to the coroner
Attendance at a coroner’s hearing if required
Establishing compensation award
Establishing dependents of the deceased.
Providing compensation payments
Fatal Accident Claims – Need Advice?
If you or a member of the family who have lost a loved one and are in need for advice, please contact the fatal accident claim solicitors now.
It is unfortunate that there are many senseless deaths and fatal car accidents on UK road due to the criminal acts of others. Usually young teenage or adult males.
Motor vehicles can easily be turned into weapons and cause carnage. Young males still steel vehicles for ‘joy riding’ or used in the course of a criminal offence such as a get-away car at the scene of a crime.
Whatever the use, there is with regret victims who are present at the wrong place and time who ultimately and needlessly lose their life or suffer from serious injuries or life-changing injuries and are in the need of fatal accident compensation to help them recover and relieve the financial stress and burden of not having to work again.
Help is Available to Victims of Fatal Road Accidents
Those bereaved families who have lost a loved on due to crime or criminal activity can seek independent specialist advice from solicitors dedicated to help victims.
Notwithstanding the criminal often have no assets or money or insurance cover to sue for compensation, a claim can be made for criminal injuries compensation for the death of a loved one. The scheme is designed to help bereaved families to claim compensation for a fatal accident claim where the death was caused due to a criminal activiity.
As reported by the BBC on fatal accident Wales has considered an accident black spot. Between 2012-2014 greater than 100 people were killed in a fatal accident and approximately 7,500 minor to sustained life changing injuries.
Fatal Road Traffic Accident Claims
The statistics offered by the Welsh Government indicate the following information about fatal road accident and non-fatal road deaths:
In 2015 = 5,543 road accidents involving personal injury
The Most Common Cause of a Fatal Road Traffic Accident?
According to the Welsh Government on fatal road traffic accidents claims and non-fatal injury claims from serious to minor personal injury is simply that the driver has not kept a proper look out. A simple omission but can lead to drastic and devastating results.
Claiming Compensation For Fatal Road Accident
As fatal accident solicitor we are hear to help you make claim for compensation following a fatal road accident. Every case is different has its challengers and complexities. No matter how difficult we are hear to help you.
With such devastating consequences a vehicle that was been in pursuit by a police car came off a public road and collided into three young girls a young boy and an adult woman. The woman and a young boy sadly lost their lives and the girls were in hospital for the injuries they have sustained.
Where the police are involved such as in this tragic case, the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] will undertake an independent investigation into the collision to establish if the police officers should have pursued the vehicle taking into account the seriousness of the offence and the safety to members of the public in continuing to target the offender.
Whatever the merits of the pursuit of the Police, the those affected by the loss of a loved one will be able to seek compensation for fatal car accident against the motor insurance bureau as the driver (bearing in mind the vehicle is stolen) is unlikely to have a valid motor insurance police to cover the consequences of the loss of life, hurt and damage to the family left behind.
Not all fatal accident solicitors are the same. It this most difficult time for family members who are looking for legal advice in such an emotional and traumatic time, it is important that you do obtain advice from as specialist in this area.
Fatal accident claims can involve a very complex area of the law where there are pitfalls for the unweary and inexperience solicitor who may be very good dealing with simple whiplash injury road traffic accident claims or accidents at work but not equipped with fatal injury compensation claims. Applying the law to fatal accident claims is not routine, the demands and complexity are uniquely demanding and simply nothing short of experience and expertise should be considered in such a difficult time for the family.
One Example of an Inexperienced Solicitor Getting It Wrong
In this matter, a firm of fatal accident solicitors acted for a family whose adult child was tragically killed in a road traffic accident. The deceased was living away from his parents and recently left university and was in a full-time job.
Following the conviction the family as requested by the fatal accident claim solicitors requests that they send the receipts in of the funeral expenses to stat they can be reimbursed with the cost of the funeral and headstone which is a claim that can be made under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
The fatal accident solicitor only made a cursory enquiry asking simply did their adult child provide an financial support for them at the time of death. The answer was ‘no.’
The insurance company for the other driver made an offer to compensate the family for the funeral expenses in ‘full and final settlement’ of the fatal accident claim. That was it. The family became a little concerned and questioned their rights. After seeking advice from us, it quickly became apparent that the fatal accident solicitor simply did not go into any detail about what a ‘dependency claim’ involves and what can be claimed.
Fatal Accident Dependency Claim
It turns out that the parents and the deceased had in mind shortly before the tragic death that their adult child was intending to come back to live with the parents due to job relocation and more-over to look after one of them as they had fallen ill. That the provision of care to one parent and that the adult child would financially support his family was simply over-looked by the fatal accident solicitor. No proper and full investigations were ever made.
Had it not been for that telephone call to us, the fatal accident solicitors the family would have settled the claim for compensation for the loss of funeral expenses. The total value of the Dependency claim is significant and whilst no amount of fatal accident compensation can ever be considered as justice, it does provide some financial security, closure and piece of mind.
Fatal Accident Solicitors – Advice & Support
We are here to help you every step of the way. The first legal step is to call us. We will be sympathetic and with over 20 years of dealing with families left devastated by the loss of a loved one appreciate your concerns and demands for justice. We work under a No Win, No Fee Solicitor service so you have no worries in getting in touch.
Make sure you instruct the right fatal accident solicitor, otherwise you may not obtain the justice that you deserve and the right amount of compensation of piece of mind and a sense of closure. The above link is a cautionary tale of what can easily go wrong if the family instruct the wrong fatal accident solicitor.
In Part 1fatal accident solicitors considered the general complex issues of how calculating future awards for lump sum compensation for a fatal accident or fatal disease can be complex. Needless to say, once again, as fatal accident solicitors specialising in this area in addition to serious life changing injury claims, the future calculation for compensation leaves the victims, in our view under compensated.
Why? It is all down to how the large discount is applied to future lump sum compensation awards for a fatal accident or serious life changing injuries. The discount applied applies on the award of the compensation so as not to ‘over compensate’ the dependents or victim of a life changing injury claim. Thus to use an similar example, if the dependents or personal injury victim sustaining serious injury claim is valued at say £100,000 over a period of 10 years, if that amount was put into stocks and shares over a period of 10 years, there is a chance that the investment will grow over time and thus the net value would be more than the £100,000. This is unfair and has been attacked as the returns may not be significant or at all as there is a chance there could be heavy losses.
‘Victims and families whose loved one have been killed in a fatal accident or sustained a serious life changing injury have been under compensated for years…’
[Author Ronnie Hutcheon, Principal Solicitor of R James Hutcheon Solicitors]
Thus the dependents compensation for a fatal accident or the victim of a serious life changing injury claim are being under-compensated and have been over many years. Further the Conservative Government has also since April 2013 not only reduced solicitor costs if they win a compensation claim for fatal accident or injury but now solicitors are forced to take up to 25% of the victim’s compensation award. Thus to say that the aim of compensation is to put the claimant victim in the same financial position but for the death or accident is a misnomer.
Uee of the Ogden Table To Compensate Fatal Accident Claimants
The Ogden Tables are used by fatal accident solicitor and personal injury solicitor who specialise in life changing injuries where the future awards of compensation have to be considered. Here we will discuss only fatal accident compensation claims due to the recent important case ofKnauer v MOJ by the Supreme Court in 2016 increased compenstion following the unalwful killing of a person in an accident by just using the Ogden Tables in the way they were intended. Had the Courts used the Tables correctly it would have stopped thousands of bereaved families whose fatal accident compensation claims were settled by their Solicitor or the Courts over many years.
Generally it is relatively easy to calculate the compensation awards to dependants of the deceased prior to trial or settlement of the claim. This is because what has happened in the past can be evaluated with precision. There is no assumptions or what ifs?
Some complex calculations for fatal accident compensation which arise when the claims comes to be settled can give rise to uncertainty.
Some examples where uncertainly will arise and difficult questions have to be determined by the Courts and the solicitors acting in the compensation claim for a fatal accident:
The deceased had recently started his own business (so there is no past record on how well the business would have done).
The deceased was only 16 years old so there is little work experience or examination results to establish a clear future career path.
The deceased was destined to be a sporting great…but for the fatal accident.
There are many other examples where a future calculation for possible fatal accident compensation awards can give rise to difficult assessments and calculations. The fatal accident compensation solicitor will have to consider all the evidence and present the best possible case to the Courts. Once this evidence has been produced the Solicitors dealing with the fatal injury claim will then use what is called ‘The Ogden Tables‘ to consider the future calculation of compensation awarded.
Calculation of Future Fatal Accident Compensation – Ogden Tables
The Ogden Tables are designed not by solicitors as such but by accountants or actuaries who use various data such as age, discounts rates, life tables etc to establish how much a lump sum compensation award for a fatal accident would be worth if the dependent a received all the money ‘today’ at once rather than over a period of years had the deceased lived. This is important as the dependants of the deceased should not be ‘over-compensated’ and importantly ‘under-compensated.’
So if, say, the dependants of the deceased had a future award of compensation for a fatal accident of a loved one assessed at £100,000 and that amount is the equivalent of say 10 years future award. If the dependant received £100,000 today rather than over a period of 10 years, the law of compensation (the Defendant insurance company) would be up in arms as the dependants would have been over-compensated. Why? Fatal accident solicitors call this ‘accelerated payment’ the dependants have received all the money in advance in one lump sum rather than over the 10 year period. Therefore that £100,000 could be invested in stock and shares or put in a bank account gaining interest and any investment returns would result in an additional award to the dependants which is prohibited i.e. the dependants have been over-compensated.
Therefore what the courts will do is apply a discount to the compensation so that the dependants are not over-compensated. Therefore rather than receive £100,000 today, the compensation will be reduced by a complex calculation so that the award may be £95,000 or £90,000 and so on. The longer the award in years terms into the future, the greater the compensation discount.
The actual scheme and philosophy of making dependants of the deceased who receive compensation for a fatal accident claim has been under attack by many fatal accident solicitors and personal injury practitioners well before the stock-market crash of 2007. This is because the dependants or the injured victim is forced to invest the compensation in stock and shares or if the dependants or injured victim are more risk adverse, to keep the compensation in a bank account.
However, as all savers are aware, the interest on bank accounts are quite pitiful and in some cases we here are of negative benefit. The compensation award is there for a purpose and should not be put at risk in stocks and shares. Further the discount applied to the future awards are still very high meaning that in real terms the compensation for fatal accident claims and personal injury claims are consistently over many years under valued. The fault of the to Government once again slow to react help victims but quick to protect insurance companies.
A tragic accident happened between a police officer driving a vehicle on an emergency call resulting in fatal road injury claim. The police officer was driving his vehicle at over 30 miles per hour above the 40 miles per hour speed limit on the road in wet conditions.
With regret and resulting in tragic consequences, the police vehicle collided with another vehicle containing two occupants. One of the occupants died from the multiple injuries and the other passenger of the vehicle sustained a facial fracture.
Police Investigation Into The Fatal Road Injury Claim
It was found by the Independent Police Complaints Commission that the police officer had lost control when driving his vehicle on a bend which then collided into the on coming car where one occupant was tragically and fatally killed.
Pc Thomas Hart, 27, was acquitted following a four day trial at Teesside Crown Court. The IPCC thought there was sufficient evidence to charge the police officer for death by careless driving.
However the Crown Court that head the evidence found that there was insufficient evidence and thus he was found not guilty of causing death by carless driving.
The IPCC produced a statement: “This was a terrible tragedy for all involved. My sympathies in particular go out to Aimee Welsh’s family and friends. They have lost someone they loved dearly.”
Death By Careless Driving
In this case although the police officer was found innocent of causing death by careless driving, nevertheless it does not necessarily mean that no compensation claim for the death can be made. As fatal accident solicitors, we were not involved in this most unfortunate case but anyone who has been involved in a similar circumstance will be advised that a fatal injury compensation claim can be made through the civil Courts.
In the above case, the Police officer was being charged with death by careless driving in the Crown Court, i.e. by the Crown Prosecution Service and if found guilty may got to jail. In a Civil compensation claim, anyone acquitted by the Crown Court of causing death by carless driving can still be made to pay compensation for the fatal injury claim as the standard of proof is less than in the Crown Court.
Death by Dangerous Driving Compensation Guide 2020
Causing death by dangerous driving is one thing bereaved families have to consider when they are faced with an untimely and sudden loss of a loved one following a tragic road accident. As specialist fatal accident claims solicitors, we will help bereaved families claim back compensation against the driver’s insurance company (if there is one), if not through the Motor Insurer’s Bureau or an order by a Judge in Court.
A driver or cyclist charged with the offence will be liable for a civil claim for compensation and criminal charges by the police that can lead to imprisonment.
This guide updated for 2020 will include information on the legal definition of causing death by dangerous driving, some examples of the offence and which family members can claim compensation following the death of a loved one. It can be quite complex so if you are in need of any assistance please feel free to call us or why not engaged our live chat facility if we are online.
When the death is due to a deliberate or reckless disregard to life, it is hard to take. Specialist fatal accident solicitors here to help bereaved families and offer FREE SUPPORT and legal advice. We will obtain for the family maximum compensation for road deaths in the UK.
If the other driver has been charged with another offence by the police and you with to claim for compensation for causing death by careless driving please click on that link for further information.
Definition of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving
To understand the law you need to know the definition which the lawyers and the courts will use to see if the driver or cyclist in question can be convicted for the criminal offence.
Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as substituted by the Road Traffic Act 1991) provides:
A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence.
On the Crown Prosecution Service website it provides some useful information of what can constitute a claim for compensation for causing death by dangerous driving under section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1988).
‘When the suspect’s driving is a cause or factor in the death of another person and the driving was dangerous.’
By “dangerous” we mean within the meaning of section 2A of the RTA 1988, i.e.
‘the standard of driving falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.’
The criminal sanction is 14 years’ imprisonment, by virtue of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, and/or an unlimited fine.
Examples that will be considered by a Judge at court when a driver is faced with a criminal charge:
The criminal driver must have played a part not simply in creating the occasion for the fatal accident, i.e. causation in the “but for” sense, but in bringing it about;
The degree of contribution to the criminal activity is beyond a negligible;
If the criminal driving is too remote from the later event to have caused the death, the Judge may dismiss the claim.
Three Common Offences of Causing Death while Driving
As fatal accident solicitors we are often asked what is the difference between the driver being charged with death by careless driving and death by dangerous driving.
The main difference it that ‘careless driving’ of a driving standard below that of a ‘prudent motorist’ with no obligation for the CPS to establish any actual or risk of injury giving rise to death.
But for a charge, the standard has be be ‘far below’ and that there is an obvious risk that by the driver’s actions, there is a risk that personal injury or death may result by his or her actions.
Causing Death by Careless driving or Inconsiderate Driving:(Section 2B of the Road Traffic Act 1988, amended by the Road Safety Act 2006, s. 20).
Examples of Careless Driving :
• Driving too close to another vehicle.
• Driving through a red light by mistake.
• Overtaking on the inside.
• Turning in to path of another vehicle.
• Being avoidably distracted by the radio, cigarette etc.
Source: Crown Prosecution Service Fact Sheet
2. Causing Death by Dangerous Driving: (Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988).
Examples of Dangerous Driving :
• Racing / Going too fast / driving too aggressively.
• Ignoring traffic lights.
• Overtaking dangerously.
• Driving when knowing there is a serious fault with the vehicle.
• Being dangerously distracted by a map / phone / radio etc.
Source: Crown Prosecution Service Fact Sheet:
3. Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs: (Section 3A Road Traffic Act (RTA) 1988).
Examples of death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs:
Excessive alcohol consumption,
Excessive prescription drug consumption,
Illegal drug consumption,
Mixture of drugs and alcohol consumption,
Road Accident Deaths and Mobile Phones
Possible actions that you can be charged for by using a mobile phone behind the wheel where you can be convicted for a serious criminal offence. With the advent of using mobile phones behind the wheel there are increasing number of charges brought against drivers for serious offences for dangerous driving and careless driving. In fact, for many driving offences, the one of the first things the police will check a driver’s mobile phone.
For the purposes of this website, there is no need to go into detail about what constitutes “dangerous driving” as it is very much dependent upon individual facts and moreover a common sense. Some guidance can be obtained from the Crown Protection Service, see more below on this page.
If a driver is charged and or convicted with causing death by dangerous driving it also has a further consequence and where a claim for compensation for a fatal car accident claim can be made by the bereaved family who have lost a loved one by the accident. The compensation claim is called a ‘Civil Claim‘ (this does not involved the police or the Crown Prosecution Service.)
In a Civil Claim for compensation, specialist fatal accident claims solicitors like us will represent the bereaved family (usually the next of kin) to make a compensation claim against the driver or specifically his or her vehicle insurance company.
For compensation claims the legal system will commence in the following courts (most cases will be heard in the County Court). If a party wishes to appeal any decision of a judge in the county court the appellant may appeal to the higher courts set out below.
The general distinction between the two Statute Laws are that the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 are used by the dependents of the deceased, that is, in laypersons’ terms, the ‘next of kin’ usually the widow or widower, the survivor in a civil partnership or other ‘dependents of the deceased which can include children and a wider network of family members.
But a dependent of the deceased may also be an unmarried partner who was living with deceased for at least two years prior to death or a child of the deceased. The list of dependents can be wide see further below on who can be a dependent.
Who Can be a Dependent of the Deceased?
The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 provides a list of dependents who can claim compensation for a fatal accident:
(a) the wife or husband or former wife or husband of the deceased;
(aa)the civil partner or former civil partner of the deceased;]
(b)any person who—
(i) was living with the deceased in the same household immediately before the date of the death; and
(ii) had been living with the deceased in the same household for at least two years before that date; and
(iii) was living during the whole of that period as the husband or wife or civil partner of the deceased;
(c) any parent or other ascendant of the deceased;
(d) any person who was treated by the deceased as his parent;
(e) any child or other descendant of the deceased;
(f) any person (not being a child of the deceased) who, in the case of any marriage to which the deceased was at any time a party, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that marriage;
(fa) any person (not being a child of the deceased) who, in the case of any civil partnership in which the deceased was at any time a civil partner, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that civil partnership;]
(g) any person who is, or is the issue of, a brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the deceased.
(4) The reference to the former wife or husband of the deceased in subsection (3)(a) above includes a reference to a person whose marriage to the deceased has been annulled or declared void as well as a person whose marriage to the deceased has been dissolved.
The dependency claim under the 1976 Act will be for a:
Loss of income
Loss of services.
The bereavement award is what the law values the life of the deceased if killed instantly in a road traffic fatality, the current amount is a pitiful £12,980. But this award is limited to only a particular class of close family members. For more information on please see here claiming a bereavement award.
A dependent will usually claim compensation for financial support that was provided pre-death by the deceased. It may also include non-financial support such as caring for a surviving partner who was ill or for child-minding. The compensation for a dependent can be significant especially if the deceased was working and the bereaved family were very much dependent upon the deceased’s income prior to death.
What if the Driver Has No Motor Insurance?
This often happens especially where the driver is young and drives the vehicle without the owner’s consent or permission. Another example is where the driver steals the vehicle.
The law relation to motor insurance can be very complex (even for lawyers) but the following information is simplified to understand the point.
Where a vehicle has insurance but the driver does not have permission or it was stolen to drive the vehicle, the insurance company that insured the vehicle will, under the rules of the Motor Insurance Bureau, (MIB) be the responsible insurer and pay out to the bereaved family dependents any compensation that is due to the family under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 in particular.
If the vehicle and/or driver could not be traced then a claim can be made, again via the MIB for compensation for causing death by dangerous driving under the uninsured loss agreement.
Families will hear of a specialist court called ‘The Coroner’s Court’ is inquisitorial to investigate the possible causes of death that may be suspicions or death following a crime or criminal activity such as the deceased being killed due to dangerous driving.
The judge who is called a ‘Coroner’ will hold an ‘Inquest’ into the cause of death. The Coroner has wide-raging powers can can order various witnesses and the Police to attend court to give evidence.
This will involve driving that is deliberate, the CPS use the words “a flagrant disregard” for the rules of the road, examples include:
A prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving
Consuming substantial amounts of alcohol or drugs leading to gross impairment.
Substantial risk of danger to life.
This is the second serious charge which the following will be taken into account by the Police:
Excessive speed, racing or competitive driving against another driver,
Avoidable distraction such as using your phone, reading, composing a text message over a period of time.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failing to take prescribed medication or as a result of a known medical condition.
Significant risk of danger to life.
The third charge and less serious compared to the other two charges but nevertheless, the end result is still the same.
Driving above the speed limit/at a speed that is inappropriate for the prevailing conditions.
Driving when knowingly deprived of adequate sleep or rest or knowing that the vehicle has a dangerous defect or is poorly maintained or is dangerously leaded.
A brief but obvious danger arising from a seriously dangerous manoeuvre.
Driving whilst avoidably distracted.
Failing to have proper regard to vulnerable road users.
Are You Affected by the Death of a Loved One Due to Dangerous Driving?
You are not alone. We are here to help you every step of the way. Our philosophy is the same (see our quote below). We help you get to the truth, support you through the Courts and Inquest hearing and claim any compensation for the family left behind.
Whist we are civil claim solicitors, claiming compensation for death by dangerous driving offences, nevertheless it must be remembered that the offence comes under Criminal Law which means there are serious consequences as a conviction can result in imprisonment. The criminal law is enforced by the Police who gather the evidence sufficient for the driver to be charged with the offence. Once the Police have the necessary evidence, the file is then passed to the Crown Prosecution Service who will then present the case to the Judge and Jury.
The CPS on their website, provides information on what they do summarised as follows:
decides which cases should be prosecuted;
determines the appropriate charges in more serious or complex cases, and advises the police during the early stages of investigations;
prepares cases and presents them at court; and
provides information, assistance and support to victims and prosecution witnesses.
There is advice if you are a victim of a criminal offence or a witness, in both circumstances it can be a very emotional and stressful time; support for victims and witnesses.
The CPS will often prosecute criminals in the following courts in order of hierarchy
However only minor criminal offences are taken to the Magistrates Court, and therefore causing death by dangerous driving offence will be tried in the Crown Court before a Judge and a Jury.
A Magistrates’ court deals with minor offences, eg:
most motoring offences (unpaid parking fees)
minor criminal damage
being drunk and disorderly
drugs offences (minor offences)
The Magistrates Court has jurisdiction to deal with charges, but they have limited authority to pass a maximum term of imprisonment of only 6 months. The Magistrates can, if they consider this sentence too short for the crime, refer the case up to the Crown Court for sentencing.
A Crown Court can give a range of sentences which are serious including:
The punishment should fit the crime. But you cannot get more serious than causing the death of another person(s). However by being charged with the offence of dangerous driving is due to an accident or mistake rather than an intention to kill.
An intention to kill someone is with what lawyers call ‘malice aforethought‘ a premeditated or intentional act to murder a person. So the easiest example is a criminal who plans weeks or months ahead to kill someone. The guilty mind is present and the execution is the act of killing i.e. stabbing or shooting etc. That is murder and thus a life sentence is appropriate.
But causing death by dangerous driving in the UK is an ‘accident’. The driver did not intentionally go out that morning, day or night to kill someone. What the driver did was to drive his or her vehicle dangerously, the terms used could be recklessly by driving too fast for instance. The standard test used by the Court under the Road Traffic Act 1988 is put simply as:
‘obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving the vehicle in its current state would be dangerous.’*