Every homicide is a tragedy in the community and the source of unimaginable grief for the family and loved ones of the deceased. These tragic situations can be caused by accident, negligence, recklessness, or by the individual’s intentional actions. The law seeks to distinguish between these causes by examining the intent of the person who committed the offence. In order to determine whether or not a person died during the commission of an offence the authorities will scrutinize the willful actions of the person responsible.
Homicides are often featured in the news, and in Toronto, they are tracked and numbered sequentially each year. These cases are sometimes remarkably straightforward, and at other times incredibly complex. There is a lot pressure on detectives investigating the case and on crown attorneys who prosecute them. Occasionally, this pressure leads investigators to connect dots that are not there or prosecutors to twist facts to fit their theory rather than letting the facts and evidence frame the theory. If you are charged with murder, keep in mind that an experienced criminal defence lawyer can investigate the facts and piece through the evidence to ensure the most favourable outcome for you.
Is it murder?
In criminal law, there is a distinction between homicide and murder. A homicide is committed when a person causes the death of another person either directly or indirectly. Some acts of homicide are legally justified such as acts done in self-defence. These are called non-culpable homicide. Non-culpable homicide is not a criminal offence.
On the other hand, culpable homicide can be murder or manslaughter or infanticide. Culpable homicide is murder where the person intentionally causes death or where a person means to cause bodily harm and knows that it is likely to cause death and is reckless whether death ensues or not.The intent behind the act that caused death will determine whether it is culpable or non-culpable homicide, and if culpable, whether it is murder or manslaughter.
Homicide and related offences are found in Part VIII of the Criminal Code titled “Offences Against the Person”. There are several homicide and murder related charges in the Criminal Code including: First Degree or Second Degree Murder; Manslaughter; Attempt Murder; Accessory After the Fact; Infanticide; and, Criminal Negligence Causing Death.
First degree murder
First degree murder is one of the most serious Criminal Code offences. Upon conviction, it carries an automatic life sentence with parole ineligibility for 25 years. Not only must it be proven that the accused intended to kill the victim, there must be at least one of the following elements: the murder was planned and deliberate; the murder was for hire; the victim of the murder was a police officer, a jail guard, or a law enforcement person; the victim was killed while committing another offence such as sexual assault, criminal harassment or kidnapping among other enumerated offences; or, the murder was committed for a criminal organization.
If you are charged with first degree murder you must go into court with a lawyer who is experienced in criminal defence and is 100% on your side. It goes without saying that the consequences of a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years is high and should not be handled lightly.
Second degree murder
Second degree murder can be summarized as murder with intent or murder that is reckless. Murder with intent is when the accused intended to cause the death of the victim. Murder that is reckless is when the accused intended to cause bodily harm to the victim while at the same time knowing that the bodily harm was likely to cause death, and the accused was reckless about whether death ensued or not. The penalty for second degree murder is an automatic life sentence with a parole ineligibility period between 10 to 25 years.
Manslaughter is culpable homicide where the accused did not intend to commit murder. The most common example is when a person is engaged in an unlawful act that is objectively dangerous and likely to injure another person that resulted in death. In this scenario, the intent to commit the unlawful act is present but the intent to kill is missing.
Another example of manslaughter is when a person is aiding and abetting another person in a dangerous act that leads to death. If the person would have foreseen the risk of harm to another as a result of carrying out the common intention they are guilty of manslaughter even if they did not foresee the probability of murder. Murder can be reduced to manslaughter where there is provocation, and in some cases, intoxication.
A conviction for manslaughter is liable to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment with no mandatory minimum sentence unless a firearm was used in the commission of the offence in which case the minimum sentence is four years imprisonment.
Get a free consultation
If you, or a loved one, is charged with homicide, you should retain a top Toronto homicide lawyer. Deniz Sarikaya has defended, and won, murder cases. He will examine every angle of the case, assess and appraise all defences, and expose any weakness in the case against you.
If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter it is imperative that you hire a lawyer with experience in defending these types of charges. Contact the law office of Deniz Sarikaya for a free consultation at 647-282-5777.