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Murder and Manslaughter

What is the Difference between First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter?

First Degree Murder

Generally, for someone to be found guilty of  first-degree murder, the Crown attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual intended to kill the victim and that the death was “planned and deliberate.”  One could also be found guilty of first-degree murder if one intended to cause bodily harm to a person, knew that death would likely result and were reckless as to whether death took place.  Hiring someone else to commit murder is also considered first-degree murder.

Certain types of murder will be considered to be first-degree murder even where there is no proof of planning or deliberation.  These include the murder of a police officer or prison guard, a murder carried out in association with a criminal organization or if a murder was committed in the course of carrying out another crime such as sexual assault or kidnapping.

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder is any murder that is not first degree murder.  In other words, it is an intentional killing (or causing of bodily harm, knowing it will likely result in death) where planning and deliberation cannot be proven.


For manslaughter, it need not be proven that the accused intended to cause death.  It only needs to be proven that a reasonable person in the accused’s position would realize that death was likely to occur and that the person was reckless as to whether it occurred.

An accused can be found guilty of manslaughter for causing death through:

  • an unlawful act,
  • criminal negligence,
  • threatening or lying to the deceased in a way that leads them to do something that leads to their death, or
  • willfully frightening a child or sick person so as to cause death.

What is the Potential Sentence if you are Convicted of Murder, Manslaughter or Attempted Murder?


The sentence for first and second degree murder is life imprisonment.  For first degree murder, one is not eligible for parole until 25 years of the sentence has been served.  For second degree murder, one must serve at least 10 years before becoming eligible for parole.

The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment.  There is no minimum sentence, unless a firearm is used during the offence, in which case the minimum sentence is four years.

The maximum sentence for attempted murder is life imprisonment.  There are also minimum sentences that must be imposed if certain circumstances exist.  These sentences range from 4 to 7 years, depending upon the situation.

How can DUVADIE Defend Against your Murder and Manslaughter Charges?


With an offence of this severity, DUVADIE Law’s foremost goal is an acquittal.  We will launch a diligent challenge of the Crown’s evidence; bring forward all evidence possible of raising a reasonable doubt; and raise each and every defence available.

Where a complete acquittal is not possible, we will fight to have the charge reduced to a lesser charge. For example, a murder charge can be reduced to manslaughter if the accused committed the act in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation.

Other defences that could lead to an acquittal or a reduced charge include:

  • self-defence
  • defence of another person
  • intoxication
  • lack of mental capacity (also know as “not criminally responsible” or “NCR” or “insanity”)

If you are facing a murder or manslaughter charge, please call DUVADIE Law at 613-422-1155 or Toll-Free at 1-855-422-1155 to set up your free 30 minute consultation. 

Page last updated Feb 23, 2023 @ 09:17

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