Murder And Manslaughter Charges – Canadian Homicide Laws

June 2, 2022

Murder And Manslaughter Charges - Canadian Homicide Laws

Murder – a word that sends chills down the spine of even the most stone-hearted person who hears it. Our world is filled with crimes and misdoings, but nothing compares to the sin of taking a precious life. No matter how difficult or painful anyone’s life is, no one ever happily consents to another man to snatch away the gift of salvation. While the damage caused by other types of offenses can be reversed, amended, or at least compensated for, murder is a grave and irremediable transgression.

For this reason, murder is the most severely punishable crime worldwide. In this regard, the Canadian Criminal Code sets equally unforgiving penalties for this offense. Depending upon the degree of murder and the prevailing circumstances at the time of the occurrence, a person convicted of murder may be sentenced to jail for a lifetime.

However, not every type of homicide is punishable. If you think you might be unfairly convicted of a murder that was justifiable or out of self-defense, let the most reputed criminal defense lawyers in Edmonton take care of your case.

Unlike theft or fraud, being charged with murder can be a scary experience. Besides a tainted reputation and a criminal record, the fear of spending the rest of your life in jail is unpleasant and highly unsettling. Thankfully, the situation is not as grim as you may perceive it. Surprisingly Canadian law provides more room for self-defense than perhaps any other country. Unfortunately, very few people are aware of the rights they have.

In this blog post, we shall discuss murder, its degrees, possible sentences, and situations in which it is justifiable.

The Types Of Homicide

When it comes to murder and its variations, the Canadian law distinguishes between two types:

  • Culpable homicide
  • Non-culpable homicide

For most of our discussion, we shall focus on culpable homicide charges, which require a strong defense. Honestly speaking, the definition of murder is legally different from what an average person thinks. In simpler words, murder is an action that directly or indirectly causes death to another person. In this regard, it is essential to distinguish whether the death occurred in the act of self-defense or an intention to actually cause death.

If a person’s death occurred purely as a consequence of you defending yourself or your property, your case would not be very complicated. However, things take a tricky turn when you are charged with culpable homicide. Let us have a deeper look into this murder category.

Culpable Homicide

This category includes murders committed with some kind of intent rather than as a reasonable defense measure. The intention might not necessarily be to cause death. Even criminal negligence that causes death is included in this category. This category further has three more subcategories as follows:


This term is widely used interchangeably with homicide, but it is actually a subcategory of homicide according to the law. It occurs when person A means to cause the death of person B or causes bodily harm, knowing that it is likely to result in person B’s death. Accordingly, the type of intention and the planning done determines the degree of the murder:

  • First-degree murder – As per s. 231(5) of the Criminal Code, a person commits first-degree murder if he plans and deliberates the act. For example, a contract killer who thoughtfully plans out a murder. This is the most difficult to defend offense and requires the defense services of an experienced and diligent assault lawyer. A conviction for this offense results in a life sentence. A person may receive parole for 25 years in some instances.
  • Second-degree murder – A murder is a second-degree if it did not include any planning but was caused deliberately. An accused may face a life sentence or parole for ten years.


The murder of a newly born child (infant) by their mother due to a mental disturbance resulting from giving birth or lactation is known as Infanticide. This offense carries a five-year maximum sentence and no minimum penalty.


This is the last and one of the broadest categories of culpable homicide. This category includes homicides that do not fall into murder or Infanticide categories. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is always a complex matter. Some high-profile cases in Canada start as manslaughter only to end up as murder and vice versa.

To put it simply, manslaughter is any murder that occurs without the intention to cause death but as a result of criminal negligence or an unlawful act. Thus, the intention to cause harm that results in death is culpable homicide.

This offense does not have a minimum sentence, but if the accused was in possession of a firearm that caused the death, a minimum sentence of four years in jail is present. An example could be carelessly lighting a fire to scare people, causing death.

Non-Culpable Homicide

Lastly, if a death occurs while you used ‘reasonable force’ to protect yourself or your property from harm, the homicide is justifiable. In this regard, the Canadian justice system is quite flexible.

Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Manslaughter And Self-Defense?

However, the judge will consider the reasonability of your act. For example, if a burglar retreats after you hit them with a heavy object, it would be reasonable to stop hitting them. But if you continue hitting them until they die, there might be a problem.

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Regardless of the complexity of your case, we can diligently and successfully defend you from numerous assault charges, including murder. Learn more about Slaferek Law and our expertise.

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