Murder / Culpable Homicide

Murder is the most serious crime a person can be charged with in this country. The amount of proof regarding the “planning” and “deliberation” of the murder is a key consideration for whether a person will be charged with first degree, second degree or manslaughter.


What is Murder?

Murder / Culpable Homicide Lawyer in Toronto Ontario No criminal offence is as serious as murder. If you or someone you know is facing a Murder charge, Caramanna, Friedberg LLP has the experience, resources and track record to take on the case.

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.

  1. First Degree Murder

    These murders are typically deliberate and premeditated. However, they need not always be and can involve murders during the course of "crimes of domination" such as a sexual assault, kidnapping, taking a hostage, or the killing of a peace officer. A conviction for First Degree Murder carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years. If an individual commits multiple murders, the prosecution can seek consecutive sentences.
  1. Second Degree Murder

    Involves an intentional killing that was not pre-planned and did not occur during the "crimes of domination" described under First Degree Murder. A conviction for Second Degree Murder also carries a mandatory life sentence, but the sentencing judge has the ability to allow parole eligibility as early as 10 years into the sentence.
  1. Manslaughter

    This refers to a killing as a result of a criminal act, where there was no specific intention to cause death. It is considered a lesser, but included offence of First or Second Degree Murder. When an intentional killing occurred in circumstances where the Accused was provoked or severely intoxicated, a defence of Provocation or Intoxication may be argued. Given the current state of the law, however, Murder cases are not often reduced to Manslaughter as a result of Provocation or Intoxication.


The most serious crime requires the most serious representation. If you are being investigated or have been charged with Murder, Caramanna, Friedberg LLP provides comprehensive, detailed and zealous advocacy. If you or someone you know is facing these charges, contact us 24/7 for a consultation at (416) 924-5969.

Frequently Asked Questions

Murder is defined as the intentional and unjustified killing of another human being. The amount of proof regarding the planning and deliberation of the murder is a key consideration for whether a person will be charged with first degree, second degree or manslaughter.

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  • Factual Innocence:If the Crown is unable to prove the essential elements of the particular offence beyond a reasonable doubt, they will have failed to discharge their burden, and the accused will be acquitted.
  • Self-Defence: One's actions may be justified in certain circumstances, such as where one has to protect himself or someone else. In order to successfully argue self-defence, one must be able to demonstrate that:
    • there were reasonable grounds believe that he or others were at risk of acts of force or the threat of force;
    • the accused's actions were committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or someone else; and
    • the act committed was reasonable in the circumstances.
  • Non-Mental Disorder Automatism: Automatism can be raised as a defence in rare circumstances. Automatism deals with unconscious and involuntary behaviour. Examples of causes of non-mental disorder automatism include: sleep disorders, a blow to the head, or the involuntarily consumption of an illegal substance.
  • Mental Disorder Automatism: If someone is found not criminally responsible as a result of mental disorder, they are still guilty of the act, but will have lacked the mental intention required.
  • Provocation: There is also a partial defence of Provocation. When an intentional killing occurred in circumstances where the Accused was provoked or severely intoxicated, a defence of Provocation or Intoxication may be argued. Given the current state of the law, however, Murder cases are not often reduced to Manslaughter as a result of Provocation or Intoxication.
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Under section 219(1) of the Criminal Code, one is criminally negligent when he or she shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons in the act of doing anything, or in omitting to do anything that is his or her legal duty to do so.

One whose criminally negligent act or omittance causes death is liable for culpable homicide. Under section 222(5)(b), a person commits culpable homicide when he or she causes the death of a human being by criminal negligence.

Under section 220 of the Criminal Code, the maximum punishment in a criminal negligence causing death case is life imprisonment. If a firearm was used, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of four years imprisonment. View More

One commits homicide when he or she causes, either directly or indirectly, someone's death. Culpable homicide requires some form of intent. However, the intent does not have to be to cause death. One still has the requisite intent where, for example, he commits an illegal act which then caused the death of an individual.

Under section 222(5) of the Criminal Code, a person commits culpable homicide when he causes the death of a human being,

  • by means of an unlawful act;
  • by criminal negligence;
  • by causing the victim, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes their death; or
  • by wilfully frightening the victim, in the case of a child or sick person
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These murders are typically deliberate and premeditated. However, they need not always be and can involve murders during the course of crimes of domination such as a sexual assault, kidnapping, taking a hostage, or the killing of a peace officer.

A conviction for First Degree Murder carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

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Manslaughter refers to a killing as a result of a criminal act, where there was no specific intention to cause death. It is considered a lesser, but included offence of First or Second Degree Murder.

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Second degree murder involves an intentional killing that was not pre-planned and did not occur during the crimes of domination described under First Degree Murder.

A conviction for Second Degree Murder also carries a mandatory life sentence, but the sentencing judge has the ability to set parole eligibility between 10 and 25 years.

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