Murder involves the unlawful killing of a human being which requires that an accused person have the intent to cause death or to cause serious bodily harm they know is likely to cause death is reckless – whether the death occurs or not.
There are various types of murder charges. Murder in the first degree applies to murders that are planned and deliberate. Murder in the second degree is charged when the killing is intentional but not planned or prepared in advance.
Manslaughter, or murder in the third degree, is a homicide committed without the intent to kill although the accused may have intended to cause harm. This includes death that results from criminal negligence.
Related Offences to Murder and Manslaughter
The area of murder and manslaughter law includes the following possible charges:
- Murder in the first degree
- Murder in the second degree
- Criminal negligence causing death
- Manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility
Consequences of Murder and Manslaughter Charges
Murder – mandatory life sentence
- First-degree murder – life sentence with a possibility of parole in 25 years
- Second-degree murder – life sentence with a possibility of parole in 10 years (Court can extend to 25 years)
- Manslaughter – no minimum sentence, maximum sentence life imprisonment (with no minimum parole ineligibility)
Frequently Asked Questions About Murder and Manslaughter Charges in Alberta
1. What are some defences to a murder or manslaughter charge?
When it comes to defending a murder or manslaughter charge, your defence lawyer can look at two factors: provocation and drunkenness.
In some circumstances, a murder committed in the heat of passion caused by provocation can be reduced to manslaughter. The Court does accept that provocation can deprive an ordinary person of the power of self-control which eliminates the intent to kill.
Those who commit murder in a drug or alcohol-induced mental state can argue that their ability to create the required intent to kill was affected and this can also reduce the murder charge to manslaughter.
2. Can I be charged for first-degree murder if the murder was not planned and deliberate?
Although first-degree murder is categorized as murder with intent, murdering a police officer is always charged as first-degree murder. The same goes for murders that occur in the commission of certain offences such as hijacking, sexual assault, kidnapping, and hostage-taking.
3. What’s the difference between manslaughter and self-defense?
If you killed someone in self-defense, this is not considered a crime. Legally, you are allowed to protect yourself if you are attacked. However, to claim self-defense in court, you have to prove that you were in imminent danger and that the force you used was necessary to protect yourself.
4. If I’m charged with aggravated assault and the person later dies, can I then be charged with murder?
If the victim of your assault later dies from their injuries, the Crown Prosecutor may charge you with murder or manslaughter depending on the situation and circumstances.
I’ve Been Charged With Murder/Manslaughter. What Do I Do?
Several of DDSG’s criminal lawyers have extensive experience defending clients charged with murder in Alberta. Contact DDSG Criminal Law today for legal representation and ensure your rights are protected.