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 he knows is likely to cause death is is reckless whether death occurs or not. Murder is in the 1st degree if it is planned or deliberate. Murder is in the 2nd degree in every other case.
Murder of a police officer or a variety of peace or prison officials is always 1st degree regardless of whether it is planned or deliberate. Murder is also in the 1st degree is committed in the commission of certain enumerated serious offences such as sexual assault, hostage taking or kidnapping.
A conviction for murder results in a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. In the case of 1st degree murder the convicted person is not eligible for parole until serving at least 25 years of their life sentence. On a conviction for 2nd degree murder the minimum period of parole ineligibility is 10 years, with the Court having a discretion to increase that period to a maximum of 25 years.
A lesser offence called manslaughter is available where the act does not amount to murder, or where there is no specific intention to kill or cause serious bodily harm likely to cause death. Examples of where murder will be reduced to manslaughter are cases where drunkeness or provocation are involved. There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter, but the maximum sentence available is life imprisonment (with no minimum parole ineligibility).
Several of DDSG’s criminal lawyers have extensive experience defending clients charged with murder. Our firm has also handles a large number of murder conviction and sentence appeals, including to the Supreme Court of Canada.