Murder Charges And Homicide Laws In Canada

October 20, 2022


TRIGGER WARNING – The content that follows contains references to physically violent topics that may be triggering for some readers.

Even the most impoverished and conservative nations condemn efforts to end someone’s life and consider them to be barbaric. Of all the possible crimes in the world, murder or homicide is the worst. Once taken, this gift of salvation can never be replaced, regained, or even atoned in any way.

Even if the killer pays huge lump sums of money to those left behind, the person who lost their life gains nothing. For this reason, murder stands as a lone grave sin, severely punishable by every scripture or law. Thus, every civilized or even third-world community expresses their disfavour for such an offence and takes measures to curtail homicide in one way or the other.

If we talk about Canada in particular, laws pertaining to murder and manslaughter are quite onerous and somewhat stringent. Rightly so, murder is not something anyone in their right mind will take lightly. In this regard, the Canadian Criminal Code leaves no room for anyone who purposefully takes another man’s life to escape the penalties. When it comes to the severity of the punishments, a conviction for homicide can leave you behind bars for life.

Sadly, some people use this legal rigour as a means to frame innocent people. Likewise, there are circumstances when one unintentionally commits a murder in an attempt to defend themselves. If you are trapped in similar circumstances, request legal counsel from a reputed and experienced homicide defence lawyer in Edmonton.

Just because the law is strict on murder cases, does not mean it will turn a blind eye and not afford the accused a chance to present a defence.

To help you plan your defence, this blog provides a concise yet fairly thorough look into murder charges and the laws surrounding them.

Homicide As Defined In The Criminal Code

Unlike popular perception, the concept of murder is not as narrow as simply shooting, poisoning, or stabbing someone intentionally. In fact, murder is just a part of a more extensive topic known as ‘homicide.’

According to Section 222 (1), an individual commits homicide if they directly or indirectly cause the death of another person. Evidently, the definition of homicide does not account for intent. Thus, even though people use murder, manslaughter, and homicide interchangeably, the terms have different legal definitions.

As a result, the responsibility lies with your criminal defence lawyer to help you understand exactly what type of homicide charges you are facing.

Read Also: What Is A Criminal Lawyer’s Responsibility To The Client?

In Canada, there were about 788 victims of homicide in 2021. Now the question is, how many of these homicides were culpable and non-culpable? The latter are the two main categories of homicide as per the Code. Let us discuss each:

Culpable Homicide

As the name suggests, this category addresses the homicides that are punishable by law. The interplay between mens rea (guilty mind) and actus reus (physical component of the crime). In turn, this interplay results in three subcategories of culpable homicide.

As per Section 222(5), A person commits culpable homicide when he causes the death of a human being,

(a) by means of an unlawful act;

(b) by criminal negligence;

(c) by causing that human being, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes his death; or

(d) by wilfully frightening that human being, in the case of a child or sick person.


Murder is the first category of culpable homicide. In this case, the accused has an intention (mens rea) to cause the death of another person or commit a dangerous act knowing that it might cause another person’s death. This category is quite vast and can further be divided into first and second-degree murder. The latter depends upon the extent of planning and scope of deliberation.


In this case, an unlawful act or criminal negligence results in the death of another person, but there isn’t an intention to kill. Simply put, if person A does something dangerous but does not intend to kill person B, but person B dies, the homicide is called manslaughter and not murder.

Evidently, the distinction between murder and manslaughter is hazy and might confuse an average individual. However, what is clear is that defending murder or manslaughter charges requires the help of a professional criminal defence lawyer.


Lastly, this category of homicide deals with cases whereby a mother kills her newly-born child as a result of postnatal stress and lactation.

About Daryl Royer

From murder to internet crime and everything in between, Mr. Royer boasts immense experience in every area of criminal defence. Learn more about Mr. Royer and his expertise.

Need a defence against murder charges? Contact Daryl Royers now.

Get A Free Consultation, Contact Daryl Royer Today

Get A Free Consultation Contact Us