Murder vs. Manslaughter Charges

When someone dies at the hands of another person, the tragedy brings with it anger, confusion and typically, criminal charges. Several factors are considered in determining whether the accused is charged with murder or manslaughter.

Canadian law distinguishes between justifiable, accidental and culpable homicide. A death is deemed a culpable homicide, generally if there is blame to be assigned.


First-degree murder:

When there is a deliberate or planned act that results in the death of another person. An example of first-degree murder is an assassination such as a mob hit. There are also scenarios that automatically come under a first-degree murder charge, such as killing a police officer. 

Those convicted of first-degree murder all receive the same sentence: life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 25 years.

Second-degree murder:

When the act that results in death is not planned but happened in the heat of passion or sudden anger. It may even be clear that the defendant wanted to cause harm to the victim, but there was not an intent to kill. For example, during a robbery, the victim is killed but it was not part of the original intent of the perpetrator. All those convicted of secod-degree murder will receive a sentence of life imprisonment. Parole eligibility date will be within a range of 10 to 25 years at the discretion of the judge.

Third-degree murder or Manslaughter

Often, third-degree murder is referred to as manslaughter. This type of murder can be designated as a time when a murder was committed but there was no plan or even an intent to harm.

Definition: An act that results in the homicide of the victim without intent, although there may be intent to cause harm. A classic example is someone punching someone else in the face and that person dies of his/her injuries.There are two broad categories of manslaughter:

Unlawful act - an act that unintentionally leads to the death of another person. For example, injecting drugs into another person (with the victim’s consent) or carelessly firing a gun into a crowd and hitting a bystander.

Criminal negligence - A reckless act that results in the death of another person. For example, driving recklessly and killing a pedestrian.

Manslaughter has no minimum sentence and the maximum is life in prison.

Murder or Manslaughter Criminal Defence Lawyer in Toronto

If you or someone you know is facing a murder or manslaughter charge, it is important to seek the services of an experienced criminal defence lawyer. Rishma Gupta practices exclusively in the area of criminal defense law. Contact Rishma today at 416-844-8467 or