In everyday language, people who have killed someone may be described as being ‘killers’ or ‘murderers’. In legal terms and in psychological and criminological research, the terms used are more precise. The suffix-cide denotes the killing of the named category of people to which it is attached. Homicide is the general term for killing a person; femicide refers to the killing of women; and eldercide to the killing of an older adult. On a different scale entirely, there is also genocide, though defining what that is raises complexities we will consider in the next chapter. Killing another person can sometimes be lawful, as, for example, in the slaying of an enemy combatant in battle, in justifiable self-defence, or in an accidental death that an inquest accepts could not have been foreseen. The actus reus of homicide is the unlawful killing of another person, and the law in England and Wales defines three principal categories: murder, manslaughter and infanticide. The current statutory framework governing homicide is provided by the Homicide Act 1957, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, and the Infanticide Act 1938.
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