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What Is Murder under Canadian Law?

Criminal charges involving a killing are among the most difficult cases and successful defences rely upon expertise and experience.  Blameworthy or culpable killings fall into three categories based upon fact-evidence and the intent of the accused.  In Canada, a killing is blameworthy only if it meets the law of murder, manslaughter, or infanticide.

We represent the accused

We represent our clients in murder cases, and we provide a vigorous defence of our client’s rights.  The role of the defence lawyer is critical in cases involving charges of a culpable killing; the potential sentences are severe including life imprisonment.  The laws concerning murder and manslaughter depend on the circumstances and each case offers unique challenges.

Our experienced criminal lawyers understand the need to dig into the facts, assess all evidence, and apply the law. We work closely with our clients and pursue the available defences.

What murder charges does Canadian law provide?

A murder under Canadian law involves intentionally causing death or intentionally causing serious bodily harm that one knows will result in death.  The Government can charge murder in first-degree and second-degree counts.  The difference is important because it determines the length of the sentence and the opportunity for parole after a conviction.

First Degree Murder
The government usually charges first-degree murder when evidence shows the defendant acted intentionally and in a planned or deliberate manner.  The maximum sentence for first-degree murder is life imprisonment; the typical sentence is life imprisonment with an opportunity for parole after 25 years.

The laws of Canada permit first-degree murder charges in the below-listed circumstances.
• A planned or deliberate killing
• If the victim is a prison guard or peace officer
• If done in commission of criminal harassment such as stalking
• Caused in commission of hijacking, kidnapping, or sexual assault
• If done in course of an act of terrorism
• Any killing by a person previously convicted of murder
• If caused by acting in a criminal organization

There is a special category of murders that occur while attempting to intimidate or block the administration of justice.  This protected class includes participants in the justice system, and journalists attempting to provide information to the public about a criminal organization.

Second Degree Murder
Second degree murder must lack the planning and deliberation of a first degree murder.  This type of killing can occur in the heat of a moment or after a provocation.

The maximum sentence for second degree murder is life imprisonment with no parole for a minimum of ten years.  Sentencing judges have the discretion to set parole from 10 to 25 years.

What Is Manslaughter under Canadian law?

Essentially, all killings that the government cannot charge as murder can be charged as manslaughter.  The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment and there is no minimum sentence. Note that the use of a firearm can change the minimum sentencing requirement.

A killing of a human being without planning or deliberation can be charged as manslaughter.  The perpetrator may have intended harm but not a killing.
The penalty of manslaughter has a wide range.  The range includes probation to life imprisonment.  Life imprisonment is not an automatic penalty for manslaughter and when involving the use of a firearm, there is a minimum four-year sentence.

What should I do if charged with a killing?

Contact an experienced criminal law attorney as soon as possible.  The definition of murder in Canadian law is not a simple thing. You can be charged with serious crimes in many circumstances including fatal automobile incidents.  The penalties can also depend on many factors that an experienced lawyer will recognize and apply to your case.

What are the defences to murder in Edmonton?

Killings that might be charged as murder may be reduced to manslaughter under Canadian law if facts show intoxication or heat of the moment. The advice of an experienced attorney is essential to understanding the differences between murder and manslaughter.

How Can a Kolinsky Law Lawyer Help?

The advice and assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer are essential to your freedom in a case involving the killing of a human being.  Murder cases carry automatic life sentences and there are substantial differences in parole requirements between first or second-degree murder.  Many cases charged as murder have a potential for reduction to a lesser charge.

An experienced criminal lawyer can martial facts and evidence and work to get the best possible outcome in cases of culpable killings.  If charged with murder or manslaughter, the best advice is to contact Kolinsky Law criminal lawyers in Edmonton.

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