Homicide Offences
What Can I Expect?
Counselling & Supports
Victim Support Service


Homicide matters represent the most serious criminal offending under the criminal law.

Any criminal offence where a person loses their life is both serious and tragic, and the effects on family members, loved ones and friends can be highly distressing, stressful and life changing. Families commonly experience shock, trauma, anger and grief when a significant person in their life dies suddenly in what is often a violent manner.

Families may need to unexpectedly deal with a range of practical matters including;

  • Informing friends and family members,
  • Arranging a funeral,
  • Attending to the deceased’s affairs,
  • Speaking with Police,
  • Liaising with the Coroner’s Office,
  • organising a death certificate,
  • Media requests, and so on.

Families commonly hold a desire to become familiar with the circumstances surrounding the death of their family member or loved-one and can feel like there are many questions unanswered in the early stages of the investigation and legal process. The added stress of navigating the criminal justice system can further complicate the grieving process.

Homicide Offences

There are a number of different charges that may result in a homicide related death. These can include

  • Murder
  • Felony Murder
  • Attempted Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Cause Death by Intentional Act of Violence
  • Criminal Neglect(resulting in death)

Questions related to the prosecution of homicide matters can be best explained by the Police (Investigating Officer involved in such matter), ODPP Solicitor, ODPP Prosecutor or allocated Witness Assistance Officer.

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What Can I Expect?

Criminal proceedings involving homicide cases can be lengthy and emotionally demanding on friends and family members.

The investigation of Homicide matters will often take time. This can lead to several adjournments in the Magistrates Court whilst Police gather all the available evidence, such as speaking to all witnesses, conducting forensic procedures and tests, and waiting on reports.


Partners, children and direct family members who are potential witnesses are prevented from knowing details of the crime until legal proceedings are complete. This can cause significant frustration and distress.

The presentation of evidence during Homicide Trials can be forensic, detailed, graphic and conforming. This can be distressing for the family or loved ones observing the Trial.  In presenting evidence during a Trial, officers of the court commonly refer to ’the deceased’ or ‘the body’ which at times can feel ‘clinical’, cold and detached from the person and personality of their loved-one.

Many family and friends feel that the Trial process is unfairly focused on the accused and not the victim or deceased. At times the conduct or reputation of the deceased person will feature in the evidence of the Trial. This can feel unfair to family and friends and cause additional grief and trauma.

Families will often feel the need to represent the memory of the victim during court hearings, proceedings and the criminal Trial. While this is normal, there are specific court rules and behaviours that families and loved-ones will need to observe.

Media interest in Homicide matters can also be quite intense. Dealing with the ‘intrusion’ of media can sometimes be a challenging; particularly for family and friends who are grieving and wanting a level of privacy.

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Counselling & Supports

If you or your family are affected by a homicide or a similar crime, it is important that you seek support and help to assist you throughout the grief and legal process.  This will be particularly important if you are a witness and are required to give evidence as part of a criminal Trial.

If you require counselling or support, please refer to the phone numbers provided below.

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Victim Support Service



Anglicare: Loss and Grief Service

8131 3400


Homicide Victim Support Group of South Australia

8301 4200

Homicide Maze (PDF 0.8MB)
Unsolved Homicides (PDF 1.0MB)

For more phone numbers for counselling services please refer to our page on Referral and Support Services

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