Murder Defence Lawyer Ottawa • Murder Defence Lawyer Ontario • Murder Defence Lawyer Toronto

What is Murder?

The offence of murder has three subdivisions: first degree involving premeditation, second degree without premeditation, and manslaughter which involves a lessened intent to kill, but actions which were likely to cause death. 

What are the Penalties for Murder in Canada?

If convicted of the offence of murder, you risk not only jail but no parole for 25 years (1st degree) or 10 years (2nd degree), plus being on parole for life! It’s only manslaughter that has no minimum penalty. As a result, an effective defence strategy can be push down any act which allegedly caused a death as low down as possible on the culpability scale, preferably at least to second degree murder, and ideally to manslaughter or to criminal negligence causing death, should a full acquittal not be possible.

How to Defend Against a Charge of Murder: Top 3 Trial Strategies 

1. Accident

All criminal offences require prove of "intent" (technically known as mens rea) in order to lead to a conviction. Even criminal negligence causing death requires that you intended to commit the actions leading to the death or serious injury. While a court cannot look into your mind to see what you actually intended, it will infer intent from the surrounding circumstances. Thus pointing a gun at another person that you know is loaded and pulling the trigger would tend to support intent to kill, absent evidence to the contrary.

But accidents happen all the time. You might still be civilly liable for an accident, but that is a world away from criminal liability because you won't be facing the stigma and possible imprisonment that a criminal conviction entails. So most alleged offences against a person might be defeated at trial through argument of accident (other than for criminal negligence causing death).

2. It wasn't me

Identification can be a live issue in many cases of alleged murder. There may be no eye witnesses, and even where witnesses do exist they may have only had a momentary glance at a face they later identify as you. Studies have proven time and time again the frailty of human memory when it comes to identification of those accused of crimes. Introducing evidence that someone else may have committed the crime could by itself raise a reasonable doubt about your guilt.

3. It never happened

The results of what is claimed to be murder could in fact have been caused by an accident or suicide. The criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a very heavy burden for the prosecution to discharge. While forensic evidence initially may seem quite powerful at court, skillful cross-examination of prosecutions experts, combined with calling contrary defence experts may again raise a reasonable doubt about whether a death really was caused by the action of anyone other than the deceased.

Why Hire the Firm to Defend You on a Murder or Manslaughter Charge?

The firm’s Managing Lawyer has extensive experience both prosecuting and defending the most complex of cases at trial and on appeal as high as the Supreme Court of Canada. As the author of The Investigator’s Legal Handbook series of books, he’s trained police officers throughout Canada. The firm can develop for you an effective nuanced defence strategy that challenges the range of testimonial and scientific evidence that might be arrayed against you.