If you are facing charges for homicide, murder, or manslaughter, you need an experienced homicide lawyer that can present the best defence possible. Being convicted for offences of this magnitude will be undeniably life-altering. If you think you may be charged in connection with a homicide, we advise you to contact our office immediately and seek legal counsel.
The most serious criminal offence in Canada – murder – is defined at section 229 of the Criminal Code as culpable homicide. Murder occurs when a person ends the life of another with the intent to cause the death of that other person, or inflicts bodily harm with the intent of ending the life of another person and is reckless as to whether death ensues.
Murder can be broken into two separate offences: first-degree murder and second-degree murder. The offence of first-degree murder can occur in a number of different scenarios. The most common scenario which attracts first-degree murder is when a person plans and executes the deliberate ending of another person’s life. The plan to kill need not be elaborate or complicated and the deliberation need not be lengthy. Contracted killing also attracts liability under the category of first-degree murder. Moreover, any culpable killing of a peace officer is automatically defined as first-degree murder. These are just some of the scenarios in which a conviction for first-degree murder is possible.
Second-degree murder describes all murders which are not first-degree in nature. These offences do not require planning and deliberation but only that the intent to kill existed at the time of the time of the offence. These murders are often seen in situations where in the heat of the moment an individual forms the requisite intent to end the life of another person. The critical distinction between first-degree and second-degree is the level of forethought.
Manslaughter is considered a form of culpable homicide which can be distinguished from murder because a person charged with this offence at the time of their actions lacked the specific intent to kill. Put simply, manslaughter occurs when through a person, through an unlawful act, causes the death of another person. This offence allows for a person to be convicted if they – through criminal negligence, or by an act of violence – cause the death of another human being.
Often times a conviction for manslaughter will result when the prosecutor fails to establish during the course of trial that the accused person possessed a clear intent to kill. Manslaughter, unlike murder, only requires that the Prosecutor prove that the person knew or ought to have known that through their actions the death of the victim could occur.
Individuals found guilty of first- or second-degree murder will automatically be sentenced to life in prison. A person convicted of first-degree murder is only eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 25 years of their life sentence. A person convicted of second-degree murder will generally be eligible for parole after a minimum of 10 years imprisonment.
An individual convicted of manslaughter, the least culpable type of homicide, is still liable to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life. In cases where manslaughter was committed using a firearm, the offence also carries a minimum sentence of four years. There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter in other instances and it will be the Judge who decides what punishment is appropriate given the specific circumstances of the case.
The offences of murder and manslaughter are often the most complex criminal cases and the reality is that without proper representation these types of offences will often result in significant periods of incarceration. Moreover, murder cases are emotionally taxing on all of those involved. A murder defence involves a thorough and ongoing analysis of the Crown disclosure, in-depth client discussions, discussions with Crown counsel, the running of a preliminary inquiry (a hearing in which the Crown must demonstrate it has enough evidence to proceed to trial), pre-trial applications (e.g. applications for additional disclosure), and – finally – a trial, whether by jury or judge-alone. Accused persons without defence counsel will have enormous difficulty successfully navigating this complicated criminal process.
If you have any questions, contact our offices now to speak with a homicide lawyer so we can help address you or your loved one’s legal jeopardy. We are available 24/7. We are forceful advocates and we ensure that our clients throughout Alberta are provided with the best defence possible.