Death and the law
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Death and the Law. Suicide Abortion The Death Penalty Euthanasia. Revision. What is a crime? How are crimes classified? What are three main categories of crimes? Who can be exempt from criminal liability?. Complete the following:.

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Death and the law l.jpg

Death and the Law



The Death Penalty


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  • What is a crime?

  • How are crimes classified?

  • What are three main categories of crimes?

  • Who can be exempt from criminal liability?

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Complete the following:

  • Indictable offences are more serious offences traible on ___________ by a judge and a jury in a ___________ Court.

  • Summary offences are less serious offences triable summarily in a ____________ Court by the justices who sit without a _________.

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Translate the following:

  • To secure conviction, the prosecution must normally prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed a guilty act with a guilty intent. The accused is presumed innocent until proved by the prosecution in a court of law to be guilty.

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  • The act of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally

  • In the past an attempt to kill oneself resulted in a charge with a criminal offence

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Suicide in the past

  • In the 14th century English Common Law made suicide a criminal act and it was punished by forfeiture of all the goods and chattels of the offender.

  • English Common Law distinguished a suicide committed by an unsound mind from an “evil doer against himself”, who had coolly decided to end his or her life (an infamous crime) – entire estate forfeited to the crown;

  • Ignominious burial – a corpse dragged through the streets and hung from the gallows, and finally buried beneath a crossroad with a stake driven through the body

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The Suicide Act of 1961

  • by the 17th century – a suicide forfeited only personal property; heirs could get his real estate

  • until 1879 law did not distinguish between suicide and homicide

  • The Suicide Act of 1961 abolished that

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  • The termination of pregnancy before it is complete with the purpose of destroying the foetus

  • Before 1967 it was a criminal act to end, or to help to end a pregnancy

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Abortion Act of 1967

  • A pregnancy may be terminated within the time limit of 24 weeks

  • The time limit does not apply where abortion is performed to save lives

  • An abortion must be performed by a registered medical practicioner in a hospital or a place officially approved for that purpose

  • The Act does not apply in Northern Ireland

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The Death Penalty

  • In Great Britain, hanging was the preferred method of execution for hundreds of years

  • Capital punishment was suspended in 1965 and abolished in 1970

  • Abolitionists and retentionists

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Ruth Ellis

  • The last woman to be hanged in Great Britain

  • Ellis (28) shot her boyfriend David Blakely in 1955

  • “battered woman syndrome”

  • Ellis had a miscarriage 10 days before the killing because Blakely punched her

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The Ellis trial

  • “It was obvious that when I shot him, I intended to kill him”

  • The jury reached the verdict in 14 minutes

  • Ellis executed three weeks later

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Ellis Case Reopened

  • The case reopened in 2003 – the relatives wanted to replace the decision with a verdict of manslaughter on the grounds of ‘provocation’ or ‘diminished responsibility’

  • “Substantial error” because the judge refused to allow the jury to consider the provocation defense

  • New verdict refused

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  • Literally: Good death (from the Greek words “eu” and “thanatos”)

  • Also called ‘mercy killing’

  • Intentional killing by act or omission of a dependant human being for his or her alleged benefit

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Voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia

  • Voluntary: when the person who is killed has requested to be killed

  • Non-voluntary: when the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent

  • Assisted suicide: someone provides an individual with the information, guidance and means to take their life with the intention that they will be used for a purpose

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Action and Omission

  • Euthanasia by action: intentionally causing a person’s death by performing an action such as by giving a lethal injection

  • Euthanasia by omission: intentionally causing death by not providing necessary and ordinary care

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Euthanasia and Law

  • The Netherlands was the first country to allow so-called mercy killing

  • Public approval ratings of nearly 90 % for legalisation of euthanasia

  • Doctors have the right to refuse and patients have the right to choose euthanasia

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  • The patient must have an incurable illness

  • There must be “unbearable suffering”

  • The patient must be of sound mind and must have given consent

  • The termination of life must then be carried out in a medically appropriate manner

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  • Forfeiture – oduzimanje imovine

  • Goods and chattels - imetak

  • Ignominious burial – nečasni pogreb

  • Abolitionist – protivnik smrtne kazne

  • Retentionist – zagovornik smrtne kazne

  • Miscarriage – spontani pobačaj

  • Diminished responsibility – smanjena odgovornost

  • Incurable illness – neizlječiva bolest

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Vocabulary exercixe

Fill in the blanks with the most appropriate word:

painless, intolerable, incurable, criminal,undignified

  • Euthanasia is the practice of terminating the life of a human being or animal with an ____________ disease, ______________ suffering, or a possibly _____________ death in a ____________ or minimally painful way, for the purpose of limiting suffering. It is a form of homicide; the question is whether it should be considered justifiable or ___________.

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Answer key

Euthanasia is the practice of terminating the life of a human being or animal with an incurable disease, intolerable suffering, or a possibly undignified death in a painless or minimally painful way, for the purpose of limiting suffering. It is a form of homicide; the question is whether it should be considered justifiable or criminal.

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Death Penalty

  • Capital punishment

  • Term capital from latin capitalis ˝regarding the head˝

  • Killing of a person by a judicial process

  • Punishment for an offense

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Early Death Penalty Laws

  • The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the 18th Century BC in the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon

  • It codified the death penalty for 25 different crimes

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Death Penalty Today written down by Draco

  • In April 1999, the UN Human Rights Commission passed the Resolution Supporting Worldwide Moratorium on Executions

  • Over 90 countries still retain the death penalty

  • In 2006, 91% of all known executions were carried out in 6 countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and the United States

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Some countries that retain the death penalty written down by Draco

Death Penalty Permitted:

  • Afghanistan, Cameroon, China, Congo, Cuba, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, United States etc.

    Death Penalty Outlawed for Ordinary Crimes -permitted only for exceptional crimes, such as crimes committed under military law or in wartime:

  • Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, Israel, Latvia, Peru

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Public attitude written down by Draco

  • Today over 60 % of Americans support the death penalty in theory

  • In most countries public opinion is against the death penalty, as it is regarded inhuman and many innocent persons were wrongfully executed

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Abolitionists written down by Draco

  • People who are against the death penalty

  • Lord Kennet’s speech given on November 9, 1961 in the House of Lords outlined main arguments against the death penalty

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Exercise: summarising written down by Draco

  • Read Lord Kennet’s speech (Unit 21) and summarise his arguments under five verbs he uses:

  • Prevent

  • Reform

  • Research

  • Deter

  • Avenge

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Summarising written down by Draco

  • Giving a brief account of the main points of some writing

  • Use key words and find a topic sentence

  • Paraphrase when necessary

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Structure written down by Draco

  • Introduction (topic)

  • Development (presentation, analysis and discussion) – main idea

  • Conclusion

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Lord Kennet’s main ideas written down by Draco

  • To prevent the same man from doing it again

  • Rehabilitate; a man should be helped with his social function by a rehabilitatory treatment

  • Research: We should find out about the motives, characters and personality structures of criminals, thus finding things that would enable taking measures to reduce the crime rate

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  • Deter written down by Draco : The evidence proves that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent against violent crime

  • Avenge: Vengeance is not a proper motive for the State in dealing with convicted criminals

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Retentionists written down by Draco

  • People who support the death penalty

  • Main arguments: deter and avenge (“an eye for an eye”)

  • Main question: is the capital penalty a uniquely effective deterrent against murder?

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The 14 written down by Draco th Dalai Lama on the Death Penalty

  • The death penalty fulfils a preventive function, but it is also very clearly a form of revenge. The human life is ended and the executed person is deprived of the opportunity to change, to restore the harm done or compensate for it. Before advocating execution we should consider whether criminals are intrinsically negative and harmful people or whether they will remain perpetually in the same state of mind in which they committed their crime or not. The answer, I believe, is definitely not.

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Dalai Lama – cont. written down by Draco

However horrible the act they have committed, I believe that everyone has the potential to improve and correct themselves. Therefore,

I am optimistic that it remains possible to deter criminal activity, and prevent such harmful consequences of such acts in society, without having to resort to the death penalty.

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From the Constitution of the RC written down by Draco

Article 21

  • Every human being has the right to life.

  • In the Republic of Croatia there shall be no capital punishment.