First and Second Degree Murder Charges

Section 222 of the Criminal Code defines homicide as any act which leads to the death of another person. Such an act may be culpable or non-culpable.

First and second degree murder are both considered to be culpable homicide.

    • Section 229 of the Criminal Code states that culpable homicide is murder where the person who caused the death of another meant to cause that person’s death, or meant to cause bodily harm to that individual, which the accused knew would cause the other person’s death and was reckless to whether death ensued.
    • First degree murder is planned and deliberate. Further, even if the accused did not plan and deliberate to murder someone, they could be charged with first degree murder if they caused the death of another while committing one of the following crimes: contract killing, murder of a peace officer, hijacking, sexual assault, kidnapping, criminal harassment, terrorism, criminal organization, and intimidation.
    • All murder that is not first degree murder is second degree murder. In other words, if the Crown cannot prove that the accused murdered another in a planned and deliberate manner, nor was the murder committed simultaneously to the above-mentioned offences, they may be charged with second degree murder.
    • The necessary intent to prove murder requires proving that there was an objective foresight of death.

Homicide Charges Sentencing

First and second degree murder are exclusive jurisdiction offences, meaning that they cannot be tried in a provincial court. Instead, they are tried in a federal court presumptively in front of a judge and jury.  There is no election on the part of the Crown, and they are always treated as indictable offences.

Murder is one of the most serious charges that one could face in Canada. If convicted, you could face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years in the case of first degree murder, and life, alongside a minimum of 10 years of parole ineligibility in the case of second degree murder.

    • Beyond a potential life sentence, if convicted of first or second degree murder, you would also be required to provide a DNA sample and be subject to a Weapons Prohibition Order.

Manslaughter Charges

Manslaughter is also considered to be culpable homicide. Section 234 of the Criminal Code states that homicide that is not murder or infanticide is manslaughter.

There are two primary forms of manslaughter: unlawful act and criminal negligence.

    • An unlawful act must be one that is objectively dangerous, with a high likelihood that someone would be injured as a result of engaging in that act. In such instances, the accused does not need to foresee the possibility of causing someone’s death, it is enough for the accused to objectively foresee the risk of bodily harm which is neither trivial nor transitory, to be charged.
    • Criminal negligence refers to those acts where the accused, in doing anything – or omitting to do anything that it is their duty to do – shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others. And, in so doing, causes the death of another individual.

Manslaughter Charges Sentencing

Section 236 of the Criminal Code states that every person whom commits manslaughter is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for life and to a minimum of four years in jail if a firearm was used in the commission of the offence. Mandatory minimum sentences also apply in manslaughter cases.

    • If convicted for manslaughter, beyond a potential life sentence, you would also be required to provide a DNA sample and be subject to a Weapons Prohibition Order.

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