Murder/Culpable Homicide Lawyer in Hamilton


In Canada there is no charge more serious than an allegation of murder or manslaughter. Homicide offences, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter can attract lengthy jail sentences including the potential for life in prison. Clients facing murder or manslaughter charges need to very carefully consider the lawyer they want to hire to assist them with this most serious of matters. The most serious cases like murder, call for lawyers who can provide the best attention to detail, and proven experience in defending homicide charges.

What is Murder?

According to criminal code


229 Culpable homicide is murder

  • Where the person who causes the death of a human being
    • means to cause his death, or
    • means to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and is reckless whether death ensues or not;
  • 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 whether death ensues or not, by accident or mistake causes death to another human being, notwithstanding that he does not mean to cause death or bodily harm to that human being; or
  • 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 they desire to affect their object without causing death or bodily harm to any human being.

Classification of Murder

Murder is defined as the intentional and unjustified killing of another human being. Below, we describe the two broad types of Murder charges under the Criminal Code: First Degree and Second Degree.

First Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the most serious of all homicide offenses. It involves any intentional murder that is willful and premeditated with malice aforethought. Premeditation requires that the defendant planned the murder before it was committed or was “lying in wait” for the victim. For example, a wife who buys poison and puts it in her husband’s coffee commits a premeditated murder, as does a man who waits behind a fence to attack a neighbor coming home from work.

Second Degree Murder

While second degree murder also involves the intentional taking of a life, it lacks the planning and deliberation that first degree murder charges require. A second-degree murder may occur in the heat of an argument, for instance. Second degree murder convictions also carry mandatory life sentences and have a minimum parole eligibility of 10 years. However, in some cases, the minimum parole eligibility requirement may be as long as 25 years. As with first degree murder, people who are convicted may be subject to consecutive sentences.


Section 234 of the Criminal Code of Canada provides as follows:

  • 234 Culpable homicide that is not murder or infanticide is manslaughter.

Manslaughter is an unlawful killing that doesn’t involve malice aforethought—intent to seriously harm or kill, or extreme, reckless disregard for life. The absence of malice aforethought means that manslaughter involves less moral blame than either first or second degree murder. (But plenty argue that some instances of felony murder, a form of first degree murder, involve less blameworthiness than some instances of manslaughter.) Thus, while manslaughter is a serious crime, the punishment for it is generally less than that for murder.

Manslaughter is typically treated as a much less severe crime than murder.  Manslaughter can be broken up into degrees, or categorized as voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of another person under extreme provocation or while under the heat of passion. Typically, it does not require an intent to kill, but rather than the intent to do something else. Felony manslaughter occurs when a person participates in a crime that isn’t listed in the felony murder statute (which usually includes the most dangerous kinds of felonies), but somehow someone dies during the crime. Involuntary manslaughter usually involves acts of negligence or recklessness that lead to another person’s death.  Vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter – causing a person’s death through driving while intoxicated – can be charged on its own or as part of involuntary manslaughter, depending on the laws of a particular province.

Penalty for Manslaughter

Unlike for murder, manslaughter does not carry an automatic sentence of life imprisonment. It remains, however, an option for the court. If life imprisonment is ordered, there is no minimum time that is automatically required to be served before parole eligibility. Those sentenced to life imprisonment for manslaughter would be eligible for parole after serving 7 years. It may be possible for the court to delay parole eligibility for a life sentence for manslaughter up to 10 years under section 743.6 of the criminal code.

It is also common for manslaughter convictions to result in sentences other than life imprisonment. A 9 year sentence, which is not uncommon, would allow the offender to be paroled after serving 3 years of his sentence. If a firearm is involved in the offence, a minimum sentence of 4 years is required (parole eligible after serving 1/3rd of this).

What is the Sentence for First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder?

Section 235 of the Criminal Code of Canada provides that the minimum punishment for either first degree murder or second degree murder is imprisonment for life. The parole ineligibility period for first degree murder is a minimum of 25 years. The parole ineligibility for second degree murder is a minimum of 10 years. The parole ineligibility period begins on the date that the accused is arrested if the accused is not granted bail.

Get a Legal Help

If you’ve been accused of any type of murder or another crime, don’t waste a minute before retaining an experienced attorney to protect your legal rights, help you establish a defense, and preserve evidence that may help your case. Contact a criminal defense lawyer near you today to get started.

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