Murder, Manslaughter, and Infanticide
Under Canada’s Criminal Code, the most serious offences are the ones in relation to causing the death of a person. The following is a list of offences in relation to causing death.
Culpable homicide is murder or manslaughter or infanticide.
It is when he causes the death of a human being,
(a) through an unlawful act;
(b) by criminal negligence;
(c) by causing that human being to do anything that causes his death by threats or fear of violence or by deception; or
(d) by willfully frightening that human being, in the case of a child or sick person.
Murder is culpable homicide;
(a) where the person who causes the death of a human being
(i) means to cause death, or
(ii) means to cause bodily harm that the person knows is likely to cause death, and is reckless as to whether death ensues or not;
(b) where a person, meaning to cause death to a human being or meaning to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and being reckless as to whether death ensues or not, by accident or mistake causes death to another human being, regardless of whether the person does not mean to cause death or bodily harm to that human being; or
(c) if a person, for an unlawful object, does anything that they know is likely to cause death, and by doing so causes the death of a human being, even if the intention was towards the object, not causing bodily harm or death of human being
Classification of murder
Murder is classified as first-degree murder or second-degree murder.
1) First Degree Murder
Murder is first-degree murder when it is planned and deliberate.
Types of murders that are deemed first degree are:
Murder is planned and deliberate when it is committed pursuant to an arrangement under which money or anything of value passes or is intended to pass from one person to another or is promised by one person to another, as consideration for that other’s causing or assisting in causing the death of anyone or coua person’s partnering another person to do any act causing or assisting in causing that death.
Murder of a peace officer, etc.
Regardless of whether a murder is planned and deliberate, it is first-degree murder when the victim is:
(a) a police officer, police constable, constable, sheriff, deputy sheriff, sheriff’s officer or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace, acting in the course of his duties;
(b) a warden, deputy warden, instructor, keeper, jailer, guard or other officer or a permanent employee of a prison, acting in the course of his duties; or
(c) a person working in a prison with the permission of the prison authorities and acting in the course of his work therein.
Murder while committing hijacking, sexual assault, or kidnapping
Regardless of whether a murder is planned and deliberate murder is first degree when the death is caused while committing or attempting to commit any one of the following offences listed under the Criminal Code: hijacking an aircraft, sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping and forcible confinement, or hostage-taking.
Regardless of whether a murder is planned and deliberate murder is first degree when the death is caused while committing or attempting to commit criminal harassment with the intention to cause the person murdered to fear for own safety or the safety of anyone known to the person murdered.
Conducts considered as criminal harassment causing someone to fear for safety:
- Repeatedly following a person, or anyone is known to the person, from place to place
- Repeatedly communicating with the other person or anyone known to them either directly or indirectly
- Besetting (surrounding) or watching the dwelling-house, or place where a person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or is present; or
- Engaging in threatening conduct directed at a person or a family member
Murder — terrorist activity
Regardless of whether a murder is planned and deliberate murder is first degree when the death is caused while committing or attempting to commit an indictable offence under the Criminal Code or any other Act of Parliament constituting terrorist activity.
Murder — a criminal organization
Regardless of whether a murder is planned and deliberate murder is first degree when
(a) the death is caused for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal
(b) the death is caused while committing or attempting to commit an indictable offence under the Criminal Code or any other Act of Parliament for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization.
(6.2) Irrespective of whether a murder is planned and deliberate on the part of a person, murder is first-degree murder when the death is caused by that person while committing or attempting to commit intimidation of a justice system participant or a journalist, impeding their duties.
2) Second Degree Murder
All murder that is not first degree murder is second degree murder.
Punishment for murder (1st & 2nd)
Imprisonment for life (minimum)
Any culpable homicide that is not murder or infanticide is manslaughter.
(a) If firearm used in the commission of the offence
imprisonment of 4 years (minimum) to imprisonment for life
(b) Any other case
imprisonment for life
Murder reduced to manslaughter
murder may be reduced to manslaughter if the person who committed it did so in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation.
(2) Conduct of the victim that would constitute an indictable offence under the Criminal Code that is punishable by 5 or more years of imprisonment, sufficient to deprive an ordinary person of the power of self-control, if the accused acted suddenly and before there was time for the passion to cool.
- Death during an illegal arrest
Reduced to manslaughter only where the illegality of the arrest was known to the accused and it may be evidence of provocation
It is when a female causes death of her newborn child by a wilful act or omission, if at the time of the act she is not fully recovered from the effects of giving birth to the child and by reason thereof or of the effect of lactation consequent on the birth of the child her mind is then disturbed.
Hybrid – indictment or summary conviction
Imprisonment up to 5 years
5) Killing an unborn child in act of birth
This is when a person causes death, in the act of birth of any child that has not become a human being, where if the child was a human being, the person would be guilty of murder
Imprisonment for life
Exception – Saving
Not applicable to a person who, in good faith, considers it necessary to preserve
the life of the mother of a child and causes the death of that child.
Attempt to commit murder
This is when a person attempts by any means to commit murder.
(a) If a restricted firearm or prohibited firearm or any firearm is used during the offence and offence was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization,
Maximum: Imprisonment for life
Minimum: Imprisonment of 5 years (1st offence)
Imprisonment of 7 years (2nd and subsequent offence)
(a.1) Any other case where a firearm is used during the offence
Maximum: imprisonment for life
Minimum: imprisonment of 4 years;
(b) Any other case
Imprisonment for life
Accessory after the fact to murder
This is when you are an accessory after the fact to murder
An accessory after the fact is when a person receives, comforts or assists an accused for the
purpose of enabling the accused to escape, while fully aware that the accused has been a party to an offence.
Imprisonment for life
If you have more questions, read frequently asked questions about criminal law for more information.
Toronto Murder Defence Lawyer
Homicide or Murder charges can have the most serious consequences. At Juzkiw Law Firm, we can deal with all types of criminal charges. We have an experienced Defence Lawyer to help you. If you have been charged with murder in Toronto, contact us right now – 416-221-221