What is the penalty for Murder?


The sentence for Murder is life in prison.  Many people mistakenly believe that life means 25 years.  Life means life.  Someone convicted of Second Degree Murder is eligible for parole after 10 and 25 years.  In the case of First Degree Murder parole eligibility is after 25 years.  The maximum sentence for Manslaughter is life in prison but there is no mandatory minimum sentence.  The same holds true for Attempted Murder. 


What does Second Degree Murder mean?


Culpable murder occurs when a person causes the death of a human being when they either meant to cause the death, OR where they meant to cause bodily harm that they knew was likely to cause death and were reckless to whether or not death would occur.  In that case the person is guilty of at least Second Degree Murder (see the definition of First Degree Murder below).


A person may be guilty of murder either as a principal (primary actor) or as a party (secondary actor).  A party or secondary actor to murder is someone who helped or encouraged the primary actor to commit the murder, or someone who decided to commit a criminal offence knowing that the primary actor would likely murder someone.  


In every murder case involving the “principal” or “primary actor” the Crown has to prove the essential elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt.  The essential elements of murder are that: (a) death occurred; (b) the defendant caused the death; (c) the defendant intended to cause death or was reckless as to whether or not death would occur; and (d) the defendant is the person who committed the murder. 


In every murder case involving the secondary actor providing help or encouragement the Crown must prove that: (a) a murder occurred; (b) the defendant knew that a murder was going to occur; (c) that the defendant helped or encouraged the murder to occur; and (d) that the defendant intended to help or encourage the murder to occur. 


When the Crown alleges that the secondary actor is guilty of murder because a murder occurred in the course of another criminal offence, the Crown must prove that: (a) a murder occurred; (b) the defendant knowingly and willing engaged in a criminal offence; and (c) the defendant knew that death (murder) was a likely result of committing the initial criminal offence.


What does First Degree Murder mean?


A murder is first degree murder where it is planned and deliberate, a contracted murder, a murder of a police officer, a murder during hijacking, sexual assault or kidnapping, criminal harassment, terrorist activity or while using explosives in association with a criminal organization.  All murder that is not First Degree Murder is Second Degree Murder.


What is Attempted Murder?


Attempted Murder occurs where a person commits an act that constitutes and “attempt” in law, and where the person intents to cause death (murder).  “Attempt” in law means an act or omission that goes beyond mere preparation.  The mental component for Attempted Murder is actually higher than Second Degree Murder.  The Crown must prove that the defendant actually intended to cause death.  Recklessness as to whether death will ensue is not enough to establish Attempted murder, unlike Second Degree Murder.


What is Manslaughter?


There are several definitions of Manslaughter.  Generally and simply, Manslaughter occurs where a person intentionally commits an unlawful act that causes death BUT did not mean to cause death or seriously bodily harm that they knew was likely to cause death.  Manslaughter is an included offence of both First and Second Degree Murder.  That means that in every First Degree Murder or Second Degree Murder prosecution the defendant could be found “not guilty” of the offence as charged but “guilty” of Manslaughter.


What are the defences to First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Attempted Murder, and Manslaughter?


In a prosecution for First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Attempted Murder or Manslaughter the Crown must prove each essential element beyond a reasonable doubt.  Failure to do so will result in a verdict of “not guilty”.  In that sense it is a defence to undermine the Crown’s proof relating to an essential element of First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Attempted murder, or Manslaughter.


There are also several defences or excuses for First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Attempted murder, and Manslaughter.  They include: self defence, defence of another person, duress, necessity, mental disorder, provocation, entrapment, and non-insane automatism. 


What are the chances of bail in a First Degree Murder or Second Degree Murder case?


In cases of First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder a defendant must apply for bail in the Superior Court of Justice.  Unlike other criminal offences, there is no right to a bail hearing in First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder cases.  A defendant does have a right to a bail hearing in an Attempted Murder or Manslaughter proceeding. The chances of obtaining bail in a First Degree Murder or Second Degree Murder case depend on the strength of the Crown’s case, the proposed sureties, and background of the defendant.   


Can First Degree Murder or Second Degree Murder trials be done with a judge instead of a jury?


There is no right to a jury trial for First Degree Murder or Second Degree Murder, unless the Crown consents.  In rare cases the Crown will consent.  A defendant in an Attempted Murder or Manslaughter trial does have the right to a trial by judge alone if they chose. 

  1. THE LAW OF MURDER IN CANADA


The legal principles relating to Murder are complicated and subtle.  Below you will find a brief description of some of the basic principles, which are applicable in a Murder case.  The summary is not intended to be a substitute for a legal opinion based on a thorough review of the relevant evidence relating to a Murder charge. 


The successful defence of a Murder charge requires hundreds of hours of preparation and careful thought.  Contact (416) 410-4814 gorham@criminaltriallawyers.ca to book a consultation with Nathan Gorham, an Toronto lawyer with significant experience in the defence of Murder charges.

  1. TORONTO | MURDER | LAWYER

  2. First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter, Attempted Murder


Nathan Gorham is a criminal lawyer in Toronto who defends First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter, and Attempted Murder charges.  He practices in Toronto, Brampton, Newmarket, and Whitby. He is one of the founding partners at R.O.R.R.G.A. LLP, which is the largest firm of criminal lawyers in Toronto.  He has appeared at all levels of criminal court including the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.  


The Criminal Code of Canada makes it an offence to commit Murder or Attempted Murder.  Murder is classified as either First Degree Murder or Second Degree Murder.  Manslaughter is a lesser and included offence of Murder.  The sentence for murder is life in prison.  In the case of First Degree Murder an offender is eligible for parole after 25 years.  In the case of Second Degree Murder parole ineligibility is set by the judge between 10 and 25 years. The maximum possible sentence for Manslaughter and Attempted Murder is life in prison, but there is no minimum sentence.  There are several defences to Murder, Manslaughter and Attempted Murder.   For example, self defence is a defence to Murder, Manslaughter, and Attempted Murder.  Provocation, on the other hand, is a defence to Murder that reduces it to manslaughter but cannot lead to a complete acquittal.  If you have been charged with First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter or Attempted Murder, call 416.410.4814 to book a consultation.

  1. EXPERIENCE

Below you will find some of Nathan Gorham’s experience defending First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter and Attempted Murder charges.   Please note that names are abbreviated to protect the privacy of former clients.  Mr. Gorham was lead counsel in each Murder case listed below. 


R. v. G.

  1. G. was charged with Second Degree Murder. The Crown alleged that G. had a disagreement with the deceased because he was dealing drugs on G’s turf.  F. told the deceased that he wanted to speak with him, and asked him to come around the corner of the townhouse complex.  When the deceased followed G. around the corner he was shot by either G. or B. After negotiation with the Crown, the charge was WITHDRAWN.


R. v. M.

  1. M. was charged with Attempted murder, Aggravated Assault, and Robbery.  The Crown alleged that he and a group of friends Attempted to Murder the victim by repeatedly hitting him in the face with a baseball bat because he had sold their friend a phone that did not work.  M. testified at trial that he was present when his friends struck the victim in the face with the baseball bat but he did not know it was going to happen and did not want any part in it.  Although 5 of M.’s friends testified for the Crown that he was part of the plan and pushed the victim down during the attack, the defence was able to undermine their credibility during cross examination. The preliminary inquiry judge DISCHARGED M. of Attempted Murder.  The jury found him “NOT GUILTY” of Aggravated Assault and Robbery but guilty of the lesser included offences of theft and assault.


R. v. Q.

  1. Q. was charged with Attempted murder.  The Crown alleged that he shot a bouncer on the patio of a night club.  The bouncer identified him as the shooter because he had known him for about 10 years.  Another bouncer who was standing close to the shooting picked Q. out of a photo line-up as leaving the place of the shooting and getting into a purple Acura parked in front of the patio.  A third witness testified that he saw a man put a small semi-automatic handgun in his pants, step off of the patio and get into a purple Acura.  Q testified that he was standing on the patio when he heard the bouncer arguing with another man about a drug debt.  He watched as that man pulled out a handgun and shot the bouncer.  Another witness was called by the defence who confirmed that the other man shot the bouncer.  After a two week Superior Court trial the jury found Q NOT GUILTY” of Attempted Murder.


R. v. K. and N.

  1. Both men were charged with Attempted murder. They were alleged to attacked the victim in a rooming house and cut his neck from ear to ear.  K. and N. testified that they were in their room smoking a joint when the victim burst through the door and tried to rob them with an exacto knife.  During the struggle he was accidentally cut on the neck with the knife.  The jury found both men “NOT GUILTY” of Attempted murder.


R. v. B.

  1. B. was charged with Manslaughter. During a physical fight the Crown alleged that B. picked up two knives and chased the deceased into traffic where he was struck and killed by a van.  Two eye witnesses claimed to see him chasing after the deceased with knives. B testified that the deceased pull out knives during the fight but he was able to disarm him.  At that point the deceased turn and ran towards the road yelling that he was going for his gun.  B. ran after him to see where he was going and watched while he ran across the road without seeing the oncoming van.  The jury found B. “NOT GUILTY” of manslaughter.



R. v. C.

  1. C. was charged with Second Degree Murder.  The deceased selling marijuana.  A and P made a plan pose and drug purchasers and then rob him.  A testified for the Crown that he asked C to if he could borrow his gun and V said they couldn’t only use his gun if he came along and was given a cut of the profit.  A testified that during the robbery V pulled out the gun and shot the deceased.  One of V’s friends testified that he saw V with the murder weapon, that V went with A to do the robbery, and that V confessed to him that he shot the deceased.  V’s girlfriend testified that he asked her to take the car with A and P and then came back with marijuana about 45 minutes later. The jury came back twice to report to the judge that they were split and could not reach a verdict.  After being twice told to continue deliberating, and after 6 days of deliberation they found C. “GUILTY” of second degree murder.


R. v. D.

  1. D. was charged with two counts of First Degree Murder.  Three men made a plan to rob a drug dealer.  One man knocked on the door and asked to buy drugs and then the other two men pushed into the apartment with their faces masked.  One of them had a gun.  The other one had a knife.  By the end of the robbery two men were shot and killed.  The first robber testified for that police that his cousin was one of the masked men.  Further, the knife was found behind the apartment building with a bandana that had D.’s D.N.A.  The jury found D. “GUILTY” of two counts of first degree murder.

NATHAN GORHAM 
TORONTO DEFENCE LAWYER


  1. CONTACT


tel: 416.410.4814

fax: 416.598.3384

office: 416.598.1811

36 Lombard Street, Suite 100

Toronto, ON, M5C 2X3

gorham@criminaltriallawyers.ca

DEFENCES

The following defences may be available to First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter, and/or Attempted Murder:
Self defence
Necessity
Duress
Accident
Lack of Intent
Not Criminally Responsible

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DEFENCES

The following defences may be available to First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter, and/or Attempted Murder:
Self defence
Necessity
Duress
Accident
Lack of Intent
Not Criminally Responsible

MAIN PAGE   -   RECENT SUCCESSES   -   FEES   -   CONSULTATIONS   -   LEGAL RESOURCES   -   ABOUT MR. GORHAM

TORONTO MURDER LAWYER   -   TORONTO DRINKING AND DRIVING LAWYER   -   TORONTO DOMESTIC ASSAULT LAWYER   - TORONTO SEXUAL ASSAULT LAWYER   -   TORONTO THEFT LAWYER  -   TORONTO DRUG LAWYER   -   TORONTO FIREARM LAWYER   -   TORONTO APPEAL LAWYER
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Toronto Criminal Lawyer, Nathan Gorham, defending a charge of Attempted Murder.  Mr. Gorham is experienced defending First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Attempted Murder, Manslaughter, and Accessory to Murder.