Updated 12 August 2014

Possible outcomes of the Oscar Pistorius trial

Dubbed 'the trial of the century' with millions of people across the world following Oscar Pretorius' defence and prosecution, many of us are wondering what the possible outcomes could be. Here we lay them out.


Many of you may be wondering (or indeed be confused) about what the possible outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial would be.

While judgement is set for 11 September 2014, here are possible outcomes:

 If convicted of premeditated murder, Pistorius faces a mandatory life sentence, meaning he will be behind bars for 25 years before he can be considered for parole.

In his closing arguments Gerrie Nel for the State stated that Oscar Pistorius is guilty of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He said in the High Court in Pretoria on Friday 8 August: "My lady, he knew it was a human being in the toilet. His intention was to kill a human being," prosecutor Gerrie Nel said in answering the defence's final arguments.

"[if Pistorius] shot into cubicle well-knowing there is a human being in there then he is guilty of murder. My lady, if someone shoots to kill then there must be consequences."

Because Pistorius had said he wanted to shoot an intruder at his Pretoria home on February 14 last year, and not his girlfriend, did not change the fact that it was murder, said Nel.

 Masipa can also convict Pistorius of murder but without explicit premeditation, a lesser crime that still carries up to 20 years in jail. The sentence can be reduced on presentation of "substantial and compelling" circumstances.

 If Masipa is not convinced of Pistorius' intent to kill, he could still be jailed for culpable homicide - equivalent to Britain's manslaughter - based on negligent or reckless discharge of his 9mm pistol into the toilet door.

Culpable homicide carries a maximum of 15 years behind bars.  In  his closing argument Oscar's council Barry Roux has said that Pistorius should be charged with culpable homicide and not murder.

He said he did not think it was wrong for Pistorius to arm himself or to try and avoid the perceived danger from coming out of the cubicle.

Read: What's wrong with SA prisons

 Alternatively, Masipa could accept Pistorius' primary argument of 'putative self-defence' - meaning that he fired into the door because he genuinely believed his life to be in danger from a perceived intruder - and acquit him.

 In addition to the murder charge, Pistorius is accused of three lesser weapons offences: one count of illegal possession of ammunition and two counts of discharging a firearm in a public place.

These charges carry up to five years in prison, although in most instances are punishable by a fine.

What's your verdict? Tell us in the comments below.

Read more:

Roundup of CyberShrink's Oscar Trial commentaries
All said and done, we STILL don't know why Oscar shot Reeva
Nel nails Oscar as a deceitful witness




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