CRIMINAL LAW & POLICY
PERCENTAGE OF FINAL GRADE: 20%
This is a compulsory written assignment to be completed individually. You are required to
submit a 2,000 word (including in-text referencing and footnotes) analysis of the viability of a
prosecution for manslaughter of a person who encourages another to commit suicide.
Using the facts in the Massachussetts case Commonwealth v Carter as your case study,
you are required to analyse and discuss whether a similar prosecution for manslaughter
would be possible in Victoria and, if so, the likelihood that the accused would be found
guilty of that offence. You must also briefly consider whether the existing Victorian
offence of encouraging suicide adequately addresses the facts of a case like Carter.
The assignment is worth 20% of your final grade in the unit. The objective of this
assignment is to develop your research skills and your ability to analyse a homicide
problem involving liability for manslaughter, including consideration of the policy issues
THE TOPIC: LIABILITY FOR MANSLAUGHTER BY ENCOURAGING
1. Read Commonwealth v Carter 115 N.E.3d 559 (Mass. 2019) ('Carter').(a PDF of
this case is available in the website under 'Assessment 1'). Start your
analysis by reviewing all relevant materials for the topic of manslaughter (Topic of
) -the lecture, the PPTs, the Study Guide, your textbook and the listed
references, thinking about how they apply to the issues raised in Carter. Note that
you must also conduct independent research on the issue of manslaughter and
2. If the fact scenario described in Commonwealth v Carter occurred in Victoria, could
a person in Michelle Carter's position be prosecuted for manslaughter? If so, what
type of manslaughter prosecution might occur?
3. If such a prosecution did take place in Victoria, what do you think is the likelihood
that the accused would be found guilty of manslaughter?
4. Note that Massachusetts (where Michelle Carter's trial occurred) does not have a
statutory offence of encouraging suicide. Victoria does have such an offence. You
are not required to focus on s 6B(2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), although you
should consider whether the maximum penalty for this offence adequately
addresses Carter's conduct.
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INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETION
The assignment requires you to consider a controversial issue that has emerged in
• the law relating to manslaughter in recent cases in Massachusetts (USA). You must
think about how Victorian law concerning manslaughter would address the issue.
Because the Carter case was decided in a different jurisdiction with different laws,
you cannot assume that a Victorian court would apply the same reasoning and law
and would necessarily reach a similar verdict if a similar fact situation occurred in
Victoria. Also note:
a) There is no specific offence of encouraging suicide in Massachusetts (cf Victoria).
b) Michelle Carter opted for trial by judge alone; there is no such option in Victoria.
The case raises significant policy issues. For instance, should a person who
empathically encourages their terminally ill spouse who is in constant pain to commit
suicide be subject to the same criminal liability as Michelle Carter?
You must include case references and/or references to statutory provisions for each
legal proposition that you cite.
The assignment is worth 20% of the final marks in this unit.
It should be a
maximum of 2,000 words (no leeway is permitted). There is no minimum word limit.
A penalty will be applied if you exceed the word limit.
Do not include preliminaries, such as your name, student id and the title of the
assignment in your word count.
The assignment must be AGLC compliant. Footnotes and references are included in the
All other elements of the assignment (headings, sub-headings etc) will be also
included in the word count.
You must apply Victorian criminal law concerning manslaughter to the facts described in
Commonwealth v Carter; that is, you should consider the criminal liability under Victorian
Law of an accused who acted as Michelle Carter did.
A key aspect of this assignment is that you must write concisely - you will find the word
limit to be quite demanding. Identifying and explaining legal principles clearly and
concisely is an important skill. While the word limit is tight, it is there for a purpose - to
encourage brevity and succinctness.
You must make judgments about the most important issues and legal principles to
discuss and the weight to be given to those issues and principles, making sure that you
focus on those that would be in contention on the facts. Again, such judgments are an
important part of legal practice.
There is no set format to which your assignment must conform. What is most important
is that you structure your discussion in a logical way. Use headings and sub-headings to
help you with that structure.
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It is important that your discussion focuses on analysing the facts
of the Carter case by applying Victorian law
to those facts.
your identification of issues, identification of the material
facts that are relevant to those issues, and the application and analysis of the
it applies to those facts. Statements of legal principles in the
abstract, i.e. which are not sufficiently related to the facts, will attract only limited
You must include full case references and citations and/or full references
statutory provisions for each legal proposition that you
Where there is a primary source (a case or statutory provision) available
for a legal proposition you should use that primary source. You should only cite a
(such as your textbook) if it provides a novel or insightful commentary on a
primary source. You will lose marks if you cite a secondary source when a primary
source is available.
Where there is more than one case that is provided in the materials as an
authority for a proposition, you only need to refer to one of those cases (preferring
the decisions of higher courts).
Where there is more than one citation given for a case, you need to provide one only.
The names of cases may be cited in either the ‘authorised’ format (e.g. R v Porter
(1933) 55 CLR 182) or the ‘medium-neutral’ format (e.g. R v Porter  HCA 1).
The names of cases and Acts should be italicised For instance:
o R v Porter (1933) 55 CLR 182; Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
The first time you refer to a case or Act you should provide the full name and
citation. You can then provide a definition for that case or Act and in subsequent
repetitions refer to that abbreviation. Example:
R v Porter1 (‘Porter’) required consideration of the law of insanity. In Porter the
accused was charged with murder....
1 (1933) 55 CLR 182
Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) (‘Crimes Act’), s 28F. Section 28F of the Crimes Act
provides that …
Provide your references as footnotes, rather in the body of the document (i.e. do not
use ‘in-text’ references). Use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation 4 to guide you.
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