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Sprake Song & Konye: Experienced Representation for Serious Charges

Murder and Manslaughter are the most serious allegations a person can face in Canada.  Thus, the choice you make in your legal representation is a serious one that deserves careful consideration. Homicide offences such as first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter can potentially land you in jail for the rest of your life.

Learn more about homicide offences below, and call Sprake Song & Konye immediately if you or someone you love has been charged for murder or is facing allegations of murder.

What is Homicide?

Culpable Homicide is murder where the accused causes the death of another person because he or she means to do so, or means to cause bodily harm that he or she knows is likely to cause death and is reckless as to whether death ensures or not. The Criminal Code of Canada allows for varying degrees of responsibility under this broad term, so culpable homicide has been divided into three classifications: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter.

First-Degree Murder

This is the most serious homicide offence, as first-degree murder is defined as a murder that is planned (conceived in advance) and deliberate (intended and purposeful).

To qualify as planned and deliberate, the plan need not be elaborate, and the deliberation need not be lengthy. What matters is the accused planned – and deliberately carried out a plan successfully – to murder someone. When a plan is unsuccessful, it may constitute attempted murder, or (if others are involved) conspiracy to commit murder.

There are some circumstances when murder may be charged as first-degree without having been planned or deliberate. The following circumstances constitute first-degree murder:

  • Murder of a police officer (when the accused has knowledge that the victim was an officer)
  • Murder committed during the course of certain offences:
    • Forcible Confinement
    • Hijacking
    • Hostage Taking
    • Intimidation
    • Sexual Assault
    • Sexual Assault with a Weapon
    • Aggravated Sexual Assault
    • Terrorism
    • Any offence committed on behalf of a criminal organization

Second-Degree Murder

This type of offence is essentially a catch-all for intentional murders that don’t fit the requirements of first-degree murder.


Murder is defined as the intentional killing of another person, while manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person.  Culpable homicide that is not murder or infanticide is manslaughter.  Unlawful Act Manslaughter and Criminal Negligence Causing Death are the most common forms of manslaughter.

Unlawful Act Manslaughter is an illegal act which leads to a person’s death.  Instead of intending to cause death, a person will have objectively foreseen the risk of bodily harm which was neither trivial nor transitory, in the context of a dangerous act.  For example, a dangerous assault which leads to another person’s death may constitute unlawful act manslaughter, since the offender didn’t intend to kill the victim but was committing an assault, an illegal act.

Criminal Negligence Causing Death occurs when an individual’s act or lack of action, qualifying as a “marked departure” from the behaviour society would expect of a reasonable person, results in someone’s death. It does not require that death was a foreseeable consequence of the offender’s action or lack of action.

Criminal Negligence doesn’t require proof of intention or deliberation, but rather an indifference to the safety and lives of others through reckless behavior. For instance, a parent who fails to care for their child, resulting in the child’s death, could be charged with Criminal Negligence Causing Death. In contrast, the law doesn’t impose this responsibility on individuals when a stranger is in distress.


Infanticide in another distinct offence in this area of law. It occurs when a female, by willful act or omission, causes the death of her newly-born child if at the time of the offence she is not fully recovered from the effects of giving birth to the child. The usual example of this is when a new mother is suffering from Post-Partum Depression.

Sentencing for Murder and Manslaughter

All homicide offences carry heavy consequences, though the more blameworthy offences attract more punitive sentences.

First-Degree Murder carries an automatic sentence of life imprisonment. Those convicted may be eligible for parole only after a minimum period of 25 years.

Second-Degree Murder carries an automatic sentence of life imprisonment. Those convicted may be eligible for parole after a minimum period of 10 years. The judge may, however, order that you serve longer than 10 years before being eligible for parole depending on the details of the case.

Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, though most cases do not end with this sentence. Manslaughter involving a firearm carries a minimum sentence of four years’ imprisonment, while other cases are left to the judge’s discretion.

Reducing Your Charges

There are some cases where murder charges may result in convictions for the lesser and included offence of manslaughter:

Provocation: The murder was committed in the midst of a heated altercation wherein an individual loses some power of self-control.

Drunkenness: The murder was committed while under the influence of a mind-altering substance which negated the accused’s ability to form the intent to cause death.

Sprake Song & Konye: Your Best Defence

An allegation of murder is of the utmost gravity, and choosing the right legal representation is pivotal.

Trusting an experienced criminal lawyer can help you get the best possible results in the devastating and difficult situation of being charged with a homicide.

Are you or someone you care about facing homicide charges? We are motivated and driven to get our clients the best possible results.
There’s so much at stake- Contact us today.