Homicide is involves the death of an individual and the related charges are categorized depending on the level of intention and planning.

1st Degree Murder

Is a homicide that involves a specific intention to cause death of another individual or to intend to cause bodily harm to another and either knows that their actions are likely to cause death or they are reckless to the fact that their actions are likely to cause death. Because there is a specific intent required for 1st degree murder intoxication is a possible defence, however this defence will not usually absolve the individual of responsibility and may reduce the charge to 2nd degree murder or manslaughter. In simple terms 1st degree murder is a murder that is planned and deliberate.

2nd Degree Murder

By definition, all murder that is not 1st degree murder is 2nd degree murder.


Manslaughter is culpable homicide that is not murder or infanticide. In order to prove the offence of manslaughter the crown must prove that a person committed an unlawful act that lead to another person's death, that the act was not an accident, and the act was one that a reasonable person would foresee would cause a risk of non-trivial and non-trifling harm.


Involves the causing of death of a newborn child by the child's mother if at the time of the act the mother had not fully recovered from the effects of giving birth to the child and by reason thereof her mind was then disturbed.

Criminal Negligence Causing Death

Involves deaths caused by an act while not unlawful was negligent in the criminal sense. The test for criminal negligence causing death is closely related to the test fro manslaughter.


The maximum sentencing for homicide offences is life in prison.

These charges are all very involved and require complex defences. It is vitally important that anyone charged with any of the above offences to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible.

Examples from actual cases

R . v. Youth - Manslaughter

Client charged with Manslaughter following altercation at a house party. Through the course of a three week jury trial I was able to illicit evidence that almost all of the underage partygoers were intoxicated, that the majority of those at the party engaged in taunting and teasing of my client. In cross-examination on e of the deceased friends confirmed that he had thought that the incident was an accident. Following over one and a half hours of crown submissions and an hour and fifteen minutes of defence submission the jury deliberated for less than 3 hours and returned a Not Guilty verdict. See link below for newspaper coverage.

Link to Newspaper article verdict

Link to Newspaper article submissions

R v. L - Attempt Murder, Theft Over $5,000, Dangerous Driving, etc

 Client was charged with Attempt Murder, Theft Over $5,000, Possession of Stolen Property, Dangerous Driving, Driving While Prohibited. Through negotiation with crown counsel and as a result of cross-examination of crown witnesses at Preliminary Inquiry charges were reduced to Possession of Stolen Property, Dangerous Driving and Driving While Prohibited.

R. v. Mc - Murder

Client charged with murder of neighbour. Police arrived on scene to find client with blood on his hands and neighbour deceased with apparent trauma to his head. Through negotiation with Crown counsel client was released on bail allowing him to return to live with his family while the matter worked it's way through court. As the matter went forward I was able to show weaknesses in the case against my client. As a result of continuing work through negotiation, research and investigation the charges against the client were dropped in their entirety by the Crown following the release of the autopsy report.

Link to Newspaper story



  DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended as legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer.


Copyright 2009 Brendan Neil

Providing Criminal representation in south central Ontario including; Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and surrounding areas for all Criminal Code and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Offences

Brendan Neil, Criminal Trial Lawyer, Homicide

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