Criminally Negligent Manslaughter: The Case Study


The prosecution pursues Karen’s liability for the death of Frances, where she was found liable for criminally negligent manslaughter under s 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) (‘Crimes Act’). According to common law, Karen had committed criminally negligent manslaughter, which links to whether or not there was “a great falling short on the standard of care.” The prosecution does not need proof that Karen and Jacob understood their actions, which were at risk or unsafe and beyond a reasonable doubt. Furthermore, Karen had a duty of care as a doctor and a parent.

Actus Reus

Actus Reus is an Act that is common for both negligent manslaughter and murder. The prosecution must prove that Karen’s omission and negligent act led to Frances’ death. However, the prosecution must create some facts on how the liability relies on omission based on the existing set omission that led to the death of Frances. In that voluntary case, the prosecution must have the mandate of establishing a technique that correlates with the relevant duty of act as presented in the Criminal Act.

The Voluntary Act or Omission

The prosecution is entitled to presume on the accused voluntaries and ensure that no issue of omission arises from clarified facts. The voluntaries must rely on whether the accused omissions led to the death. If there is any, the omission can term it voluntary, and the accused must have control over the hormonal replacement. Karen and Jacob omitted the administration of replacement hormone to Frances after their relocation to a commune in regional NSW. Therefore, Karen could be liable for this omission if it can only be established that Karen had beliefs of higher power and a viable distrust of western medicine and healthcare professionals as a doctor. However, the prosecution of relevant facts correlates with a higher power, leading to general omission. This suggests that Karen’s act was voluntary, and Karen was conscious of given actions that keep Frances from the daily replacement hormone.

Karen’s actions or negligence caused a series of events that led to France’s death. One of these is Karen’s belief in a higher power, which is attributed to France’s changes relating to relocation stress. The other is distrust of western medicine, which has a similar scenario with the Murray v the Queen where both intend on the idea of killing through the action of pulling a trigger voluntarily as it was the same belief that a higher power would lead to Frances’ healing but rather led to death.


There are several tests for causation that exists in the case law, which led to the prosecution and negligent level of Karen. There is the common-sense test and substantial and operating cause tests; both tests seem relevant in this case law. Based on all tests, the substantial and operating test is highly effective based on consequential facts. For Karen to be held criminally liable, the prosecution must prove that Karen’s actions were highly connected to France’s death and had some effect on France’s death. From this level, Karen’s act does not need to be the only cause of France’s death, but Karen can be criminally liable due to the failure to administer the replacement hormone to the child.

Moreover, causation is proved through the use of the common-sense test, which the Karen family was supposed to use to save life of Frances. Karen knew very well that the child would suffer from varied conditions if Frances were not administered the replacement hormone five times a day. It was an issue that needed common sense even after relocation to another region but was not devoted to a higher power as the healer.

Death of Frances

Based on the given facts, it is valid that Frances legally suffered before the arrival of the paramedic and the ambulance, leading to the outcome of death.

Murder Men’s Rea

Having satisfied and established the actus reus for manslaughter and murder, the next essential step is to consider if Karen met the men’s rea elements for murder.

Intention to kill

For any murder case to be established, there must be a death caused, and the prosecution must prove that Karen’s intent led to the death of Frances. Clarity of law shows that if Karen satisfies the men’s rea element concerning one of the cases and causes the death of another, then that intention of killing transfers to the actual victim. Different acts of Karen must be distinguished, and the first fact features Karen’s belief in a “higher power” for Frances healing started before relocation to regional NSW. Still, the neglect of the hormone towards the child led to varied changes. Karen’s second act of distrust occurs on the neglect of western medicine, which creates an increased and entrenched level for the child. The neglect covers both parents, which shows that the intention was subjective to the child’s death. Based on these, the prosecution would be able to prove beyond doubt that Karen neglected the replacement of hormones being a doctor, which led to the death of Frances.

Reckless Indifference to Human Life

Based on the application of these into the case law, it is evident that Karen did not exhibit any facets which foresaw the probability of France’s death. Karen believed the higher power would heal Frances; a subjective fault element applied to the case. However, Karen should not have created more concern on high power healing than on the hormone. Though there was no inconsistency on the matter of failure, which led to Frances’s death, Karen must be prosecuted for not harnessing and practicing basic skills as a professional doctor.


Karen is not guilty of murder; therefore, voluntary manslaughter can be disregarded. Most of Karen’s acts were not unlawful, which led to the manslaughter act being disregarded. However, criminal negligent manslaughter for the case law created an objective test that does not need and require the prosecution to prove that Karen knew about the failure and acts as unsafe for Frances. The case law ensures that the prosecution must prove the standard of care towards Karen based on how it was exercised and how the failure led to a negligent outcome. Based on these facts, one can presume that critical thinking and knowledge might have helped Karen to make a precise decision and neglect higher power.


The prosecution will have a high chance of charging Karen due to involuntary and negligent manslaughter mistakes. However, actus reus facts are highly satisfied as well as causation and voluntaries interaction that occurred in the case law. Karen has voluntarily committed negligent manslaughter, which is dangerous as it led to the death of Frances. As a result, Karen might be imprisoned for over 25 years as a penalty based on the level of prosecution and how the prosecution will be evaluated.

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"Criminally Negligent Manslaughter: The Case Study." LawBirdie, 22 July 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Criminally Negligent Manslaughter: The Case Study'. 22 July.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Criminally Negligent Manslaughter: The Case Study." July 22, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Criminally Negligent Manslaughter: The Case Study." July 22, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Criminally Negligent Manslaughter: The Case Study." July 22, 2023.