A person can be convicted of murder if s/he deliberately does something to cause the death of another person knowing that his/her actions are likely to cause death.


The maximum penalty for this crime is life in prison. The minimum penalty for murder is also life in prison.


In Canada a person can be charged with either 1st or 2nd degree murder. First degree is generally murder that is committed with “malice aforethought.” This means that is it planned and deliberate. A person can also be found guilty of first degree murder where there is no planning in other circumstances. Here is a list of some of them:

1) When the victim is a person working in a prison or a police or correctional officer working in the course of his/her duties.
2) When it is committed while a person is also committing one of these offences:

Hijacking an aircraft
Sexual assault
Sexual assault with a weapon
Aggravated sexual assault
Kidnapping and forcible confinement
Hostage taking
If a murder does not fall under 1st degree murder, it is 2nd degree murder.

Transferred Intent – What if an Unintended Person is Killed?

The doctrine of “transferred intent” states that if a person intends on killing a specific person, but his/her attempt results in the death of another person, the offender can still be charged because his/her intent to kill can be transferred.

An example of this would be a person who puts a car bomb in a car intended for an enemy, but instead of the car bomb killing the enemy it kills a person who is borrowing the enemy’s car. Despite the fact that the wrong person was killed, the person the planted the bomb can still be found guilty.

What is “Planned and Deliberate” Murder?

A person who takes time to think about a homicide and still commits it with planning can be found guilty of committing a “planned and deliberate” 1st degree murder. This is different from a more rash homicide that is a result of someone losing control of his/her emotions. In order for someone to be convicted a prosecutor must prove that the act was committed with thorough consideration.

What is the Difference between Murder and Manslaughter?

A homicide that does not fall under the category of murder is manslaughter. The main difference between the two is that manslaughter is often a result of a person causing the death of another person by doing something that had a risk of causing the death of another person and doing it despite the risk. People guilty of manslaughter generally do not have the intent to kill. The law also states that a charge of murder can be reduced to manslaughter if the accused person was provoked.

How do I Fight this Charge?

Some defences to this charge are as follows:

1) An identity defence – This is a defence that is available when the prosecution cannot prove who did the killing, or who was present in the crime scene.
2) Alibi – A person can provide evidence that s/he was in another place at the time of the crime.
3) Intoxication defence – In some circumstances evidence of intoxication can be used as a defence to homicide.
4) Mental disorder – Evidence of a mental disorder can be used to defend all charges with certain restrictions.
5) Automatism – This is a defence where a person acts without being in control of his/her body.
6) Provocation – This charge may be reduced to manslaughter if the accused was provoked and suddenly killed another person. The provocation must be severe enough to take away the self-control of an ordinary person.
7) Self-Defense – A person can lawfully use reasonable force to defend his/her self.

Get in Touch

The mandatory sentence for murder in Canada is life in Prison. Lakin Afolabi has defended the most serious offences including murder. Contact him now if you are facing charges.

Lakin Afolabi LPC blog material is screened for authenticity as of the date of posting and accurately reflects the law to the best of our knowledge. Because the nature of the legal landscape is ever-changing we do not guarantee the future accuracy or completeness of this blog material past the date of posting. This material is not a replacement for advice received from our team of legal professionals. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk.