Practice Areas: Murder, Manslaughter and Homicide

These terms are often used interchangeably, but there are clear distinctions between them, and a breakdown of these categories may be helpful:

Homicide is the overarching term for taking the life of another person. It is the most serious criminal offence in Canada, and can carry the most serious penalties. Homicide itself is broken down into several categories:

  • First-degree muder is the planned and deliberate death of a person, where the murder was intentional. Murder that occurs during another serious criminal act, including sexual assault or kidnapping, can also be charged as first-degree murder.
  • Second-degree murder is where the death of the other person was deliberate, but was not pre-planned.
  • Manslaughter covers deaths that were caused by another individual, but were not intentional. This can include unlawful act manslaughter, such as if the homicide occurred during an assault, or criminal negligence


For any of the above charges, the penalties for a finding of guilt are severe, up to and including life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

A homicide charge is the most serious criminal charge in Canada, but how sentencing is handed down can depend on having the right lawyer in your corner.

Skilled counsel will thoroughly assess the evidence, its accuracy, and whether it was obtained legally. Your rights remain intact even while the police are conducting searches and interviews, and your lawyer will review every step of the police procedure that led to your charge to find any improper steps. They will also review the circumstances with a fine-toothed comb to see if there are any defences available, such as provocation, that may reduce any penalties.